Posts Tagged ‘Abnormal Science’

Update on Matsubara

March 13, 2012

In December I posted about the suspicious goings on at Kyoto Prefectural University:

A Japanese investigative website ( has found 12 published articles where manipulation of images is very likely. The suspicious images in the papers published by the Matsubara lab are carefully deconstructed by Abnormal Science in an ongoing series of posts: herehere and here.

Today Retraction Watch reports that the efforts of M3 (now discontinued) and Abnormal Science have not gone unnoticed:

The American Heart Association, which publishes a number of journals, has issued an Expression of Concern about five papers in three of their publications, following allegations of image manipulation. All of the papers include Hiroaki Matsubara, of Kyoto Prefectural University, as a co-author.

The notice begins:

It has come to the attention of the American Heart Association (AHA), in a public manner, that there are questions concerning a number of figures in several AHA journals’ articles…

The “public manner” was three posts last year on the Abnormal Science blog… alleging that images were manipulated in the manuscripts, and that histology slides were reused.

The notice continues:

After reviewing these concerns, we have asked the institution, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, to investigate the allegations. Until we learn the outcome, we feel it is best to post this Expression of Concern to alert our readers that concerns about these articles have been raised.

Prominent Indian-American researcher being investigated at the University of Texas

February 25, 2012

Joerg Zwirner has been following this for some time at his AbnormalScience blog.  Retraction Watch also posted about this. But it has now reached the ORI and even the main-stream media.

Dr. Bharat B. Aggarwal Yet another case of a Person of Indian Origin (PIO), Dr. Bharat B Aggarwal of the MD Anderson Cancer Center, being suspected of massive scientific misconduct this time at the University of Texas. Apparently 65 papers are being reviewed for the manipulation of images.

Deccan Herald:

A prominent Indian-American researcher at (the) University of Texas is under scanner for alleged falsification and fabrication in various publications regarding cancer fighting properties of plants.

Investigations of misconduct at Singapore need to be seen to be impartial

November 7, 2011

The saga of potential misconduct at the National University of Singapore continues to escalate with further questionable papers regularly being identified by “whistleblowers” to Abnormal Science (Joerg Zwirner).

But the investigations initiated by the University are not totally above criticism especially as Prof. Barry Haliwell the Vice President at the University and responsible for these investigations is himself facing allegations of self-plagiarism and is a co-author on some of the questionable papers. There is an urgent need for some outside participation in the investigations to ensure independence and impartiality. My current perception is that the objective of the investigation will over-ridingly be to save the reputation of the University (any by extension of the government of Singapore) and that the investigation committee will be heavily blinkered. Since the government has effectively been trying to short-cut its way to a scientific reputation by “buying in” researchers, there is little chance that the investigations – as they are set up now – will not be contaminated by government meddling.

As Abnormal Science comments:

A more stringent management of quality and integrity issues in experimental (medical ) research needs to take center stage at NUS. Vice president Prof. Halliwell  is in charge of the Office of Research and Technology at NUS,  and therefore responsible for driving the University’s research agenda. Unfortunately, he also appears to handle issues related to science integrity at NUS himself. This constellation constitutes an inacceptable accumulation of responsibilities and should be banned since it carries the potential for conflict of interest. Prof. Halliwell, you might want to take a leave of absence from your position as vice president until these issues (including the allegation of self-plagiarism) have been resolved.

More dodgy papers for National University of Singapore to investigate

October 24, 2011

Update: 31st October 2011: Further dodgy papers are given in the next instalment from Abnormal Science.

Japanese Retraction Watch has also been on the case.


Abnormal Science ( Joerg Zwirner) has 3 more examples of papers with some questionable images. This time the papers are from the Department of Physiology, National University of Singapore with 2 papers published in Blood and one in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The three papers tagged are:

1. Pervaiz S, Seyed MA, Hirpara JL, Clément MV, Loh KW.
Purified photoproducts of merocyanine 540 trigger cytochrome C release and caspase 8-dependent apoptosis in human leukemia and melanoma cells.
Blood. 1999 Jun 15;93(12):4096-108.
Department of Physiology, National University of Singapore; and the Oncology Research Institute, NUMI, Singapore

2. Hirpara JL, Seyed MA, Loh KW, Dong H, Kini RM, Pervaiz S.
Induction of mitochondrial permeability transition and cytochrome C release in the absence of caspase activation is insufficient for effective apoptosis in human leukemia cells.
Blood. 2000 Mar 1;95(5):1773-80.
Department of Physiology, National University of Singapore, Singapore.

3. Hirpara JL, Clément MV, Pervaiz S.
Intracellular acidification triggered by mitochondrial-derived hydrogen peroxide is an effector mechanism for drug-induced apoptosis in tumor cells.
J Biol Chem. 2001 Jan 5;276(1):514-21.
Department of Physiology, National University of Singapore, Singapore

The two names common to all 3 papers are JL Hirpara and research supervisor Professor Shazib Pervaiz.

The NUS investigation committee has its work cut out with all the questionable papers they need to check out (See here and here).

As Abnormal Science puts it:

Their inquiry commissions might soon run out of unbiased members. NUS should consider to accept assistance from abroad to clean up the mess.

And it seems to be truly a mess covering a number of departments which indicates a prevailing culture and not just some isolated incident of wrongdoing.

Academic Pandora’s box in Singapore well and truly open as more allegations of misconduct surface

October 20, 2011

Skeletons seem to be tumbling out of the Singapore academic closet thick and fast as one allegation follows hot on the heels of the last. Previous revelations are here, and here.

1. Abnormal Science reports that another whistleblower has appeared and has pointed out image irregularities (image manipulations?) in two more publications, both from  the Department of Pharmacology, National University of Singapore. Abnormal Science.

2. From the Straits Times (h/t as pointed out by an Abnormal Science reader) it is reported that a famous cancer scientist in Singapore is having his work challenged. If Prof. Yoshiaki Ito’s work is found to be flawed then some 200 other publications based on his results would be thrown into doubt.

The Times article is behind a pay wall but Asia News Net  carries the article (more…)

Further shenanigans at Singapore’s Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*)

October 15, 2011

Singapore was recently rocked by the Melendez affair where a much vaunted scientist was found to have manipulated data and 70 of his scientific papers are now under investigation. An excellent summary of the situation is here at Retraction Watch. Alirio Melendez who is currently employed by the University of Liverpool has been suspended pending the results of the investigation. In the strait-laced Singapore society which is utterly convinced about its own excellence in all things, this has come as a rude shock and shattered the complacent view of the academic world that “misconduct does not happen here”. There is now some concern that the reputation of the academic world in Singapore may be seriously tarnished.

But the misconduct may be rather more widespread than they would like to think. The “rotten” core was revealed by an “anonymous whistleblower” but it may be just the opening of the lid of a Pandora’s box.

Joerg Zwirner, an immunologist and associate professor at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen reports further cases of misconduct at Abnormal Science. He reports – courtesy of the whistleblower again – on 3 further papers where image manipulation is apparent. This time the common author is Kong-Peng Lam, of  the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Immunology, Biomedical Sciences Institutes, Singapore Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

Singapore and scientific misconduct: No end in sight

The three papers where image manipulation is apparent are:

1. Ng CH, Xu S, Lam KP.
Dok-3 plays a nonredundant role in negative regulation of B-cell activation.
Blood. 2007; 110: 259-66.

2. Tan JE, Wong SC, Gan SK, Xu S, Lam KP.
The adaptor protein BLNK is required for b cell antigen receptor-induced activation of nuclear factor-kappa B and cell cycle entry and survival of B lymphocytes.
J Biol Chem. 2001; 276:20055-63.

3. Wong SC, Chew WK, Tan JE, Melendez AJ, Francis F, Lam KP.
Peritoneal CD5+ B-1 cells have signaling properties similar to tolerant B cells.
J Biol Chem. 2002; 277: 30707-15.

Prof. KP Lam’s profile at A* is here. He has Minnesota, Columbia and Stanford behind him and a long list of publications in major journals.

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