I recently noted the case of scientific conduct of one Scott J. Brodie, DVM, Ph.D. (ORI Notice). The incomparable writedit has a few thoughts on the matter as well. I, of course, originally just got smart about the mention of PowerPoint presentations.
With the extensive list of NIH grants and papers that were involved in the Finding of Scientific Misconduct, however, I got to thinking. And pulling on the threads a little bit.
First a PubMed search for Brodie, S.J. identifies 48 publications. The ten earliest stretch from 1958 to 1966 then there is a 20 year gap, so I’m going to assume the most recent 38 are from the subject of this misconduct case.
Only one of them (Brodie, Journal of Leukocyte Biology 68:351-359, 2000) has a retraction link on the PubMed listing. And that link points to the wrong retraction, this is the right one. This is the fourth paper listed in the ORI Notice as containing falsified figures/data.
May 10, 2010
A recent notice (NOT-OD-10-095) of scientific misconduct from ORI has a curious twist I’ve not seen before.
Scott J. Brodie, DVM, Ph.D., University of Washington: Based on the findings in an investigation report by the University of Washington (UW) and additional analysis conducted by ORI in its oversight review,
ORI found that Scott J. Brodie, DVM, Ph.D., former Research Assistant Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine, and Director of the UW Retrovirology Pathogenesis Laboratory, UW, committed misconduct in science (scientific misconduct) in research supported by or reported in the following U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) grant applications:
1 P01 HD40540-01 (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHD], National Institutes of Health [NIH])
5 P01 HD40540-02 (NICHD, NIH)
1 P01 AI057005-01 (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases [NIAID], NIH)
1 R01 DE014149-01 (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research [NIDCR], NIH)
2 U01 AI41535-05 (NIAID, NIH)
1 R01 HL072631-01 (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [NHLBI], NIH)
1 R01 (U01) AI054334-01 (NIAID, NIH)
1 R01 DE014827-01 (NIDCR, NIH)
1 R01 AI051954-01 (NIAID, NIH).
Specifically, ORI made fifteen findings of misconduct in science based on evidence that Dr. Brodie knowingly and intentionally fabricated and falsified data reported in nine PHS grant applications and progress reports and several published papers, manuscripts, and PowerPoint presentations. The fifteen findings are as follows:
1. Respondent knowingly and intentionally falsified a figure that was presented in manuscripts submitted to the Journal of Experimental Medicine and the Journal of Virology and in several PowerPoint presentations that purported to represent rectal mucosal leukocytes in some instances and lymph nodes in other instances.
2. Respondent knowingly and intentionally falsified portions of a three-paneled figure included in several manuscript submissions, PowerPoint presentations, and grant applications.
3. Respondent knowingly and intentionally falsified a figure included as Figure 1N in American Journal of Pathology 54:1453-1464, 1999, three NIH grant applications, and several PowerPoint presentations.
What the hell are those doing in there?
Don’t get me wrong, data faking is data faking. I’m not down with that at all. But given the length of the accusation findings in the Notice (there were 15 total listed) throwing in the extra bit about PowerPoint presentations is odd.
“Respondent knowingly and intentionally falsified a figure included in several manuscript submissions, grant applications, PowerPoint presentations, and described in email exchanges with collaborators, conversations in the hallway at meetings and private conversations with his graduate students”
May 10, 2010
But reality is setting in. The 2-year grants will run out in 2011, and when that happens it could cause a nasty shock. Barring a new windfall–and none is in sight–NIH’s budget will drop sharply next year. Much of the work recently begun will be left short of cash. The result could be the lowest grant funding rates in NIH history, and the academic job market will suddenly dry up–especially for young researchers.
Here’s the graph they provide which depicts the NIH budget in recent years.
May 10, 2010
Although my most recent book, The Poisoner’s Handbook, is about murder and the invention of forensic toxicology in the early 20th century, my earlier works have focused on primate research, the science of affection, biology of gender differences, and even a 19th century scientific quest to prove that we live on after death. Does this variety of interests suggest a short attention span? Well, maybe. But it’s more that I’m fascinated by the intersection of science and society – how each changes the other – and by the very human story of science itself. All my books seek to explore that terrain in different ways. The last three focus on moments in the history of science as a way of looking at ideas that have changed the way we think.
This blog is about such moments – past and present – that illuminate the way we think about our world. It may focus on research from the past. It may be about current investigations. It may concern tales from my books, from those already published to works in progress. I welcome all comments, suggestions, and blog ideas.
Did I mention she wrote The Poisoner’s Handbook?
May 7, 2010
A recent notice in the NIH Guide (NOT-OD-10-089 Enhancing Peer Review: Expectation for Service on NIH Peer Review and Advisory Groups) uses a very finely crafted term:
With this new* expectation for service, the NIH thanks the many thousands of individuals who have served, or who have yet to serve, the NIH through our peer review system and other NIH Advisory Groups.
Expectation. You are expected to help with the review of grants if you are serving as the PI on a grant award from the NIH.
Candid Engineer has reached a critical turning point in the gradual maturation of a scientist from bench jockey to Principal Investigator.
I don’t know if I ever really realized that the day would come when I wouldn’t understand the details of experiments being done in my name. That at some point, my interns would be doing experiments that I can’t even pronounce, that they’d be teaching one another, without passing the information through me. That one would come to me and say, “I’ve been thinking about it, and I’m almost positive that it would be better to smash the Mango peel before adding it to the blender”. And that I’d look at him, and think “I have no fucking clue what he’s talking about because I don’t know how to operate the blender”, but somehow smile and say, “I trust you, you know what is best experimentally”
That day had better arrive or your are going to be in for a world of hurt as a lab head trying to survive and get some science accomplished.
May 6, 2010
I’ve been having a discussion on this topic in another venue.
It boils down to what I see as traditional scientific career counselling to the effect that there is something wrong or inadvisable about staying in the same geographical location or University when a scientist move across the training stages. From undergrad to grad, grad to postdoc or postdoc to faculty.
For the purposes of this poll I would like you to reflect experiences that are first hand. Things that have been said directly to you, either personally or in a group mentoring/career advice session. Check as many as apply. (If you want anyone to see your “other” responses, post it in the comments too. For some reason the freebie PollDaddy doesn’t permit anyone other than me to see those)
Is your career advancement tied to article metrics? What else are administrators looking at? Take our poll http://bit.ly/b9Hib9 Please RT!
I feel confident that my readership would like to have its viewpoint included.
The weirdest thing I noticed about it is that they have options for “Assistant Professor” and “Professor” but no “Associate Professor” on the job title question. Just sloppy? or does Britland academia lack that step?
Actually I noticed that they fail to mention any IRB oversight as well. Since they state they intend to publish the results of the survey this seems an error.
The world wide web can be a random thing at times and so it is hard to make much out of a tiny pinhole of a window. Still, something really unique in my experience is the unbelievably sustained drumbeat of Google search hits which land on my post of Feb 17, 2010 entitled:
Most of the time one of my blog posts enjoys traffic for a day or two and thereafter rapidly subsides into obscurity. I’ve never had, until now, a post that just keeps ticking away with a steady stream of daily hits from the Google like this one.
I’ve just looked at the past thousand or so hits that arrived at the blog via search word. Half of them are for this post on synthetic marijuana. This is atypical, as usually we see a much broader range of search terms landing on a variety of prior posts.
Where the search terms are elaborated, the major interests seem to be in side effects (generically), whether it is bad for you, how to make synthetic marijuana and whether a person can be tested for prior use of these items.
Anyway, like I said this is barely even a pinhole view. It would be an error to overinterpret. But it sure does represent a divergence from our usual experiences here at the blog.
Update: Abel Pharmboy reports he’s seeing the same thing on his post: What’s the buzz?: Synthetic marijuana, K2, Spice, JWH-018
When recently made aware of a situation along the lines of what Isis described in a recent post:
You see, I travel to a couple of scientific meetings a year and it seems like, for the last couple of years, I have been touched, or groped, or hit on at every meeting. Experimental Biology was no different, except that this time it came with an added twist. After the offending groping had occurred
I had the following smug reaction.
“Damn, that shit doesn’t go on at my meetings! WTF is wrong with those [Society of -ology] douchehounds anyway? “
but after reading Isis’ post, the comments following and thinking about it a little more….how the fuck would I know? It may very well be going on and I just don’t know about it.
Maybe just like some other Society meetings, the women all tell each other to watch out for grabby ol’ Professor Richard Swanger at the social events at my meetings.
UPDATE: I just saw this topic-related post from Damn Good Technician.
Some academic departments have internal sources of funding to keep the research programs of their faculty limping along if the PI experiences a gap in extramural funding. This is great. It can be a bit of an issue, however, trying to decide who deserves the (most) money.
One way to look at that is as an investment strategy. Your mini-state Department of -ology might be smartest to invest the internal funds in that laboratory that has a chance of regaining extramural funds in short order.
Odyssey has a few thoughts in Bridges to Nowhere:
Many, including myself, would like to see “actively” and “recent” quantified. The current popular suggestion is that recipients need to have submitted at least two proposals in the last twelve months. I don’t think that’s enough. I would make it at least three in the last six months. I’m not necessarily talking about NIH R01-level proposals here. Pretty much anything that would help keep a lab going should count. I don’t see this as too onerous a burden for someone with a viable research program.
Go read and comment.
The font geeks are still battling it out and a recent comment on that thread got me thinking about readability. Even with the considerable limitations of Microsoft Word and my own skills with it, I’ve been able to insert figures more or less where I want them in my grant applications for years. Over a decade.
Most of the grants that I review seem to be able to manage that as well. To place and format the figures within the document text so as to, presumably, ease the job of the reviewer in apprehending the points being made. The point is to facilitate easy reference to the illustrative figure at the appropriate place in the text.
Yet manuscript review is still stuck in the dark ages. Most journal submission procedures I am familiar with still require the figures to be separate documents from the text. The figures are then appended to the back of the file when the online submission engine creates the final pdf.
Why? Why do we do this? Why not allow the authors to format the manuscript in a pdf with the figures inserted as the authors feel best? If necessary high-resolution figures could be required to be appended and the publisher could even require a parallel figure-free copy of the manuscript text for their own typesetting purposes.
“I am not a victim. It was my decision to dope. I can assure you, I have never told by a boss to dope, but I have also never experienced a rider being asked why he suddenly became so fast,”
BikeMonkey Guest PostThe latest pro-cycling cheater is one Thomas Frei, recently of the BMC team. He was caught using EPO, unceremoniously dropped from his team and spoke to the press. His comments are refreshingly honest.
“Of course I would have gone on doping. The money tempts you, it is the same for everyone,” said Frei in an interview with Swiss website NZZ.ch.
Ahh, the fight for glory, right?
As for himself, he said that he started his pro career clean. “Then came the hard stage races, and I learned that infusions were used for recovery. Everything was legal, but I still didn’t want any of it. But at some point it started [for me], because everybody does it. The doctor gives you the first shot, and then it isn’t long until you give yourself the first illegal shot.”
There’s the rub. It ain’t physiologically possible to do that job, even just the job of domestique, on pasta. They all know that. We all know that. The circumstances are ripe for doping just to survive. Just to have a paycheck. Just to have a team slot for the next season.
There couldn’t possibly be a lesson for science careers in here anywhere.
The authorship position on a scientific manuscript is occasionally a matter of acrimonious debate within laboratories. My readership is diverse and whenever we discuss the issue it is made clear that there are a lot of variant field-specific practices. All well and good. My continued point is that the authorship position is at root a communication. No one tradition is “right” or “wrong” or, as some actually contend, “ethical/unethical” as a matter of ultimate truth. What is important is that the expected audience knows how to read the author line and conclude the desired thing* about relative contributions to the work.
I was kicked over the edge on this by reading a comment on a blog I hadn’t seen before called Infactorium. The author AnyEdge observes in this post:
I’m fourth author on this, although realistically I should be second, but the two authors at 2nd and 3rd did some good work, and deserve recognition and will be thrilled and this will likely be the only publication of their careers because they don’t have a job that expects (or really even rewards) publication. So I feel magnanimous about that, because it’ll be a paper for me and that’s good.