Sylvia Bulfone-Paus misconduct story stretches back to at least 1999

I have posted earlier about 12 retractions of papers concerning research done under the supervision of Sylvia Bulfone-Paus, a Director at the Research Center Borstel in Germany. Six of the retracted papers had been identified earlier and the next six are reported in Retraction Watch.

The retractions came after an investigation which confirmed the misconduct but put the blame squarely on two Russian researchers Dr. E. Bulanova and Dr. V. Budagian with comments that Bulfone-Paus bore responsibility as their supervisor but that she herself  had not committed any misconduct. The blogger / whistle blower represented by the Marco Berns / Martin Frost persona had commented that the singling out of Bulanova and Budagian was suspicious and hinted darkly at much earlier wrong-doings (and in fact had specifically mentioned the year 1999).

The latest 6 retracted papers  listed include one from 1999 giving some credence to the Martin Frost allegations:

Bulfone-Paus, S., Bulanova, E., Pohl, T, Budagian, V., Dürkop, H., Rückert, R., Kunzendorf, U., Paus, R., and Krause, H. Death deflected: IL-15 inhibits TNF-α-mediated apoptosis in fibroblasts  by TRAF2 recruitment to the IL-15Rα chain. FASEB J. 13:1575-1585 (1999, cited 118 times)

For this paper Bulfone-Paus was both first author and corresponding author. It would seem that any misconduct here cannot be passed off onto authors nos. 2 and 4.

After the investigation Martin Frost  wrote:

It was confirmed that the Institute Directors have been “snooping” on their workforce.  They have indeed viewed the log files of e-mails of the workers.  This deeply distressing news was compounded when it was revealed that the only person who the management arraigned after the Stasi-like “snooping” exercise was a member of der Betriebsrat (workers council) showing that the confidence essential for the worker – Betriebsrat relationship is now severely compromised.

The two other Directors are now discussing what to do next with Bulfone-Paus.

But as Retraction Watch describes, some damage control is being done by the institute with some assistance from the Editor of the EMBO Journal who includes the following sentence in his retraction notice:

The authors declare that key experiments presented in the majority of these figures were recently reproduced and that the results confirmed the experimental data and the conclusions drawn from them.

Why would the Journal publish a line so blatantly intended to white-wash some of the authors? Or does the editor mean that the retraction of the paper is somehow negated!

On this theme of the behaviour of Journals Martin Frost also wrote:

We have been sent the exchange of e-mails below from Dr. Karin Wiebauer.  They describe Dr. Wiebauer’s efforts to rid the scientific literature of the contamination of the mainpulated Bulfone-Paus papers. ….. One interpretation of the exchange is that the Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Immunology is stonewalling and attempting to bury the scientific miscconduct.

The sad saga goes on….

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One Response to “Sylvia Bulfone-Paus misconduct story stretches back to at least 1999”

  1. Michael Pyshnov Says:

    I like your blog. See mine:
    There is a long road to understanding (and making it public) why fraud in science is being covered up. However, after years of looking at this problem I came to one conclusion – it’s bribes, bribes. No other explanation fits. Of course, it has to be considered that bribes take many forms.

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