Wednesday, February 16, 2011

An Assistant Professor with a $450K Annual Salary

A few days ago, an alert netter informed New Threads that a local newspaper in China had reported that a Chinese student gave up his $450K salary in the US and returned to serve his motherland. The newspaper story also introduced the hero, Dr. Mu Qiwen, as the Chief Scientist at the Medical University of South Carolina. However, the netter claimed that he knew the truth, that Dr. Wu Qiwen neither was a Chief Scientist nor has a $450K salary.

Dr. Wu Qiwen himself quickly responded to the charge. He referenced his page in at the South Carolina university which lists him as having two titles, one as "Adjunct Assistant Professor" and another as "Senior Investigator Faculty/Chief Scientist/Radiologist/Mentor in Doctoral and Postdoc Programs". Furthermore, he produced a job offer letter signed by his boss to prove his salary:
January 5, 2011

Dear Dr. Qiwen Mu,
As you know, you are relatively unique in the world in some of your clinical and research training and knowledge. You have worked with Dr. Elliot Stein, who is a world leader in brain imaging and addictions. We were able to recruit you to MUSC where you worked for many years with our groups and learned and developed new techniques with image data analysis and TMS. You are also clinically trained as a neuroradiologist and have passed the required board examinations for licensure.

Based on your unique skills and knowledge, I would like to offer you the following positions - Senior Investigator Faculty (Professorship), Chief Scientist, Radiologist, and Mentor in Doctoral
and Postdoctoral Programs at Brain Stimulation laboratory, Medical University of South Carolina. Your responsibilities would include, but would not be limited to, interleaved TMS-fMRI, perfusion, diffusion, and spectroscopy. You will also be involved in clinical trials as well.
The annual salary for this position would be USD 450K.
Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, please contact me.


Mark S. George, MD
Distinguished University Professor of Psychiatry, Radiology and
Director, Brain Stimulation Laboratory
Founding Director, Center for Advanced Imaging Research (CAIR)
MUSC Director, SC Brain Imaging Center of Excellence
Editor-in-Chief, Brain Stimulation: Basic, Translational and
Clinical Research in Neuromodulation
Dr Mu Qiwen challenged his detractors to contact Dr. Mark George for verification.

Although the evidence appeared convincing, suspicion grew nevertheless, especially from the awkward language used in the offer letter. Multiple inquires were indeed sent to Dr. Mark George's way, to which he replied thusly:

Dear Doctors:

I am confused and am not clear what has happened.

Dr. Mu was indeed a scientist working in our lab at MUSC for many years. He left last year to return to China. He told me that he was offered a position to do research in China involving imaging and TMS. He suggested that we try and continue collaborations, which I encouraged.

While at MUSC he was a very good and hard working scientist with numerous publications. He is trained as a research scientist and as a neuroradiologist. After he announced that he was returning to China, we offered him a continued appointment at MUSC, non-paid, in order to
continue analyzing data and potentially applying for grants.

In December Dr. Mu returned to Charleston and asked me to re-issue an offer letter. If Dr. Mu were available in the US we would indeed like to have him rejoin our faculty. I informed him that I would not be able to make a formal offer as I am not head of my department (psychiatry) and that it would take higher administrative approval and several months to get a fully binding letter. He asked that I sign the letter below which I read. He stated that he needed it signed and soon in order to apply for collaborative grants. I was confused. When I saw the salary level, I was surprised, as it is over twice my salary and I have been here 20 years. However, Dr. Mu is trained as a neuroradiologist, and their clinical salaries are higher than a psychiatrists. He found the salary number as the national average of neuroradiologists. It is not clear if he could serve as a clinical neuroradiologist without taking the US boards and completing a US fellowship.

I have no information about the number of houses or other issues you raise.

I am a bit astonished to be bothered by this exchange and I hope this email clarifies things.



Mark S. George, MD
Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, Radiology and Neurosciences
Medical University of South Carolina
Charleston, SC 29425
So there you have it, Dr. Mu Qiwen had manufactured his own position and salary, making himself a much bigger asset for his motherland.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ministry of Science and Technology Revokes an Award

Almost a year after Xi'an Jiaotong University fired its professor Li Liansheng for fraud after a lengthy and difficult campaign by six elder professors, the Ministry of Science and Technology of China finally reached a decision to revoke an award it had given to Li Liansheng in 2005.

The ministry cited severe plagiarism and inaccurate economic impact data in the application for the reason for its action.