Author who squats on domains to fake affiliations and added Wolf Blitzer as a co-author up to a dozen retractions

A putative brain surgeon with a penchant for fabricating his affiliations and co-authors — including Wolf Blitzer of CNN — has lost several more papers to retraction.

As we reported in August, Michael George Zaki Ghali, or someone using that name:

bought two fake web domains for the Karolinska Institutet [KI] to make it look as though he was affiliated with the world-famous medical center and published seven dozen papers in peer reviewed journals owned by Elsevier, IMR Press, Taylor & Francis and Wiley. …  Ghali has twice been ordered to turn over domain names linked to Karolinska the real institute, once in June 2020 and again in November 2020.

At the time, we were aware of seven retractions for Ghali, including the one co-bylined with Blitzer. That number has now grown to at least 12, by our count

One of the new notices comes in Frontiers in Neuroscience, which in July 2020 published a paper by Michael and George Ghali titled “Mechanisms Contributing to the Generation of Mayer Waves.” The article listed eight impressive affiliations of the Ghalis: 

The Karolinska Institutet, in Stockholm, the University of Helsinki, the University of Oslo,the University of California, San Francisco, the Barrow Neurological Institute, in Phoenix, the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, Purdue University, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. 

According to the retraction notice, dated November 1: 

The journal and Chief Editors retract the 10 July 2020 article cited above.

Following publication, the Karolinska Institutet contacted the editorial office stating that the authors have never been affiliated with it, and contrary to the statement in the article did not receive funding for this work. The authors did not respond to the journal’s enquiries and attempt to verify authorship of this article. Therefore the editors no longer have confidence in the integrity of this work.

This retraction was approved by the Chief Editors of Frontiers in Neuroscience and the Chief Executive Editor of Frontiers.

In late October, the European Journal of Neuroscience, a Wiley title, retracted “Midbrain control of breathing and blood pressure: The role of periaqueductal gray matter and mesencephalic collicular neuronal microcircuit oscillators”:  

George Zaki Ghali, M. (2020). Midbrain control of breathing and blood pressure: The role of periaqueductal gray matter and mesencephalic collicular neuronal microcircuit oscillators. European Journal of Neuroscience, 52(8), 3879–3902. The above article, published online on 29 March 2020 in Wiley Online Library (, has been retracted by agreement between the journal’s Editor-in-Chief, John Foxe, the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The retraction has been agreed due to falsely listed affiliation details. The author, Michael George Zaki Ghali, could not be reached to approve or comment on this retraction.

Ghali had claimed posts at the KI, Baylor and UCSF for that article. 

And on September 17 Neural Regeneration Research yanked two papers — one by Ghali and Ghali and one by Ghali, Ghali and, you guessed it, Ghali (Emil Zaki, that is). Here’s the notice for “Nafamostat mesylate attenuates the pathophysiologic sequelae of neurovascular ischemia,” which the journal published in May 2020: 

An investigation by Drexel University and University of California San Francisco has determined that the study was found using fraudulent affiliations. The author, Michael George Zaki Ghali, cannot provide valid evidence to prove the authenticity of his affiliation. As accurately stating the authorship, affiliated institution, ethics approval and the source of funding is core to the integrity of published work, we are therefore retracting the article. The corresponding author listed in this publication has been informed. The authors did not agree with the decision to retract the article.

The corresponding author on that paper? George Ghali. 

Although we don’t know all of the places Michael Ghali really worked, we do know that he did a  brief and problematic stint as a resident at Houston Methodist Hospital, where he published several papers with Gavin Britz, who directs the Neurological Institute there. 

Britz told us that: 

He was a resident for a short time and during that time we did papers together. Since he left, no.

He is a big problem and no longer affiliated with us…

Ghali did not respond to a request for comment.

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2 thoughts on “Author who squats on domains to fake affiliations and added Wolf Blitzer as a co-author up to a dozen retractions”

  1. 8 March 2022:

    “Retraction Note to: β adrenergic receptor modulated signaling in glioma models: promoting β adrenergic receptor‑β arrestin scaffold‑mediated activation of extracellular‑regulated kinase 1/2 may prove to be a panacea in the treatment of intracranial and spinal malignancy and extra‑neuraxial carcinoma”

    George Zaki Ghali & Michael George Zaki Ghal

    1. 12 April 2022:
      “Retraction: Dynamic changes in arterial pressure following high cervical transection in the decerebrate rat”

      May 2022:
      “Retraction: Nafamostat mesylate attenuates the pathophysiologic sequelae of neurovascular ischemia”

      May 2022:
      “Retraction: Spinal genesis of Mayer waves”

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