Sunday, March 28, 2010

More Papers Retracted from Acta Crystallographica Section E

The little Jinggangshan University was already famous for committing massive fraud in the journal Acta Crystallographica Section E. A few months ago, the journal retracted more than 70 papers from the school and the school responded by firing two members of its faculty responsible for the deed.

The story did not end there. On March 18, the same journal announced another whole-sale retraction of 39 articles. Fang Zhouzi reports that of the 39 articles, 37 were produced entirely by authors in mainland China. The other two included both Pakistani and Chinese authors.

23 of the 39 articles have authors from Jinggangshan University, with 20 of them having Jinggangshan faculty as either first or corresponding author. This time, it also involves faculty with higher ranks, including full professor, associated dean, and dean.

A spokesman for the school claims that this most recent scandal is "different in nature" from the last one and denies that forgery was involved.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Xi'an Jiaotong University Fires Professor for Fraud

According to China Youth Daily, Xi'an Jiaotong University has made the decision to fire Professor Li Liansheng (李连生) for committing forgery.

Two years ago, on March 28, 2008, six elder professors from that school published an open letter on New Threads. The letter states that Li Liansheng's work, which was then just awarded a first-class prize by the national Ministry of Education, was a complete forgery. The six professors provided detailed description of their evidences and opinions. They also signed the letter with their real names.

A year after that, Li Liansheng sued three of the six professors in court. The six professors pooled their retirement funds to help the legal defense.

Their case suddenly turned in November, 2009, when Li Liansheng abruptly withdrew the lawsuit. On March 20, CCTV openly reported the case, which apparently spawn an immediate reaction from the school. Li Liansheng was stripped of his professorship and had his employment contract terminated.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

ORI Declines to Investigate Claims against Xiao Procedure

The Office of Research Integrity of Department of Health and Human Services responded to the open letter concerning Xiao Procedure. It declines to investigate citing lack of jurisdiction and absence of specific allegations. Here is the response letter in its entirely, dated March 15, 2010:

The Division of Investigative Oversight (DIO) of the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has received your letter of March 1, 2010, and additional documentation describing concerns over a controversial procedure first described by Dr. Chuan-Guo Xiao to treat neurologenic bladder in subjects with spinal cord injury (SCI) or spina bifida. The material you provide raises concerns about the extent and quality of long-term followup of the many subjects that Dr. Xiao and his colleagues have operated on in China and suggests that the high success rate that he and others have claimed of this procedure (the "Xiao Procedure") has been overstated. This material also notes that Dr. Xiao, while working at New York University prior to his return to China, and others at the William Beaumont Hospital Research Institute, have received funds from the National Institutes of Health to conduct clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of similar nerve re-routing procedures in children with spina bifida.

After reviewing your concerns, DIO has determined that this office cannot assist you. There are several reasons for this determination. Nearly all of the patients who have received this surgical procedure are in China and ORI does not have jurisdictional authority to intervene.[footnote] The procedure as practiced in the United States has to some extent been funded by PHS funds at NYU and the Beaumont Hospital Research Institute. However, these grant applications clearly identify the procedure as experimental and high risk, and as safety and efficacy trials. The preliminary results of the pilot studies described in the applications are described as providing some benefit for otherwise extremely compromised patients, and the risks and benefits are adequately described. Long term follow-up results will have an impact, when available, on determining the viability of the procedure for more patients.

More important for this office is the absence of specific allegations of possible research misconduct in NIH funded research that are suitably specific to claims that could be shown to be significant and intentional falsification or fabrications of data that could be ascribed to specific individuals. Broad claims that the procedure has been shown to not work in China are not sufficient to establish that appropriate care has been taken in NIH funded research to ensure appropriate care of subjects, and that the risks and possible benefits have been appropriately explained to patients. I also wish to point out that it seems likely that the conflicting opinions on the efficacy of this procedure may, at least in part, be due to honest differences of opinion in what constitutes therapeutic success.

Thank you for raising your concerns with ORI. However, as noted, we are unable to assist you at this time.

John E. Dahlberg, Ph.D.
Division of Investigation Oversight
Office of Research Integrity

[footnote] For ORI to have jurisdiction, allegations must meet the definition of research misconduct at 42 C.F.R. 93.103 and the questioned research must be supported by funds from Public Health Services agencies such as the National Institutes of Health.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Daily Kos Reviews History of Xiao Procedure

Daily Kos recently published a run-down on the history of Xiao Procedure with the alarming title "What unregulated medicine looks like".

Drawing directly from media sources in Chinese, notably the Science News reports previously carried on this blog, the article's author xgz recounted the case and asked "Do we want that kind of health care in the US?"