Scientific Ethics  2(3): 79-85, 2007

OPEN LETTER

http://im1.biz

 

© Truthfinding Cyberpress

FIGHTING AGAINST MISCONDUCT

 

This Outrageous Lie Has Got to Stop!

 

Shi V. Liu

 

Eagle Institute of Molecular Medicine

Apex, NC 27502, USA

 

Corresponding with SVL@logibio.com

 

(Received 2007-07-27; accepted 2007-08-31; published 2007-09-02*)

 

HIGHLIGHT

 

Some scientists had falsely claimed in Science their first discovery of bacterial aging.  More significantly, they have remained defiant against a modest request for them to correct their mistake and return truth to scientific history.  Their behaviors have constituted a clear scientific misconduct and raise serious question on whether they are any true scientists?

 

ABSTRACT

 

After claiming to be allegedly the first to have observed bacterial aging in 2003 in Science (2) Ackermann et al. once again- knowingly or unknowingly- distorted the truth stating that “until recently, aging had only been described in eukaryotes” and they just found the origin of aging “in a wide range of organisms” and realized that “aging might thus be a more fundamental aspect of cellular organisms than assumed so far” (1).  However, the truth is not only more conclusive experimental studies on bacterial life had been published before their 2003 Science paper but also a deep understanding on the origin of biotic aging had been published years ago.  Ackermann et al.’s distortion of scientific history is outrageous.  How long should this misrepresentation be allowed to continue?

 

KEY WORDS

 

Discovery, Deception, Pioneer, Pretender, Bacterial aging, Bacterial life, Citation misconduct, Credit robbery, Shi V. Liu, Martin Ackermann, Urs Jenal, Science, Science in China, Logical Biology

 


Ackermann et al. published a research paper in Science in 2003 (2) in which they claimed of making the first observation on bacterial aging.  However, not only such observations have been reported before in major scientific meetings (9, 26) but also a peer-reviewed experimental research paper had been published in both English and Chinese (28, 29).  As a matter of fact, an invention of method and apparatus for producing age-synchronized cells was applied for a US patent in 2000 and became a world-wide accessible public record before Ackermann et al.’s study for their 2003 Science publication (15).  Coincidently, the method and apparatus used for Ackermann et al.’s Science study had already been fully described in that earlier patent application.

The ignorance, whether intentionally or unintentionally, resulted in a severe distortion of a scientific history.  This distortion has not only made a much later validation of a prior discovery a “ground-break discovery” but also prevented true insight on bacterial/cell life and biotic aging from respectful appreciation.

Thus, starting from Ackermann et al.’s 2003 distortion of a research history in studying bacterial life and aging, the mainstream scientific journals have formed a unified opinion that there was no prior study on bacterial aging.  These journals not only forgot how many times that they had rejected repeated submissions of some solid studies on bacterial aging and earlier origin of biotic aging they even rejected to publish any short coverage on publications on bacterial aging only because they were published in journals that they despise.

The cheating therefore continued in the mainstream scientific journals.

In 2005 Stewart et al. published a paper in PLoS Biology claiming the first observation of aging in a symmetric bacterium (32).  However, compared with the 1999 Science in China publication (28, 29) and the 2004 Logical Biology publications (18, 30, 31), Stewart et al.’s publication is at most an imperfect repetition (22).  Following Ackermann et al.’s footstep Stewart et al. also cheated on the history of research in this area by totally ignoring the key prior publications.  They even insisted on that mistake by refusing to make any correction on their deception after that ignorance was pointed out (19).

In 2006 Watve et al. published a paper in PNAS (33).  In that modeling study on bacterial aging, Watve did not mention any of the true pioneering publications on bacterial aging despite the fact that he knew very well of these publications because he was even personally helped by author of those publications (6).  It tuned out that his modeling study was also scientifically wrong (10).

Now Ackermann et al. just added another new cheating to the previous one.

In a publication appeared in Aging Cell (1) Ackermann et al. repeated their lie that “Until recently, aging has only been described in eukaryotes” and two recent studies [referring only their 2003 and Stewart et al’s 2005 publications] reported aging in bacteria”.  They also stated that “it was assumed that aging evolved after the origin of eukaryotes”.  They claimed that “Our analysis of the evolutionary consequences of phenotypic damage complements these studies [on genetic damage] and provides a new perspective on the evolutionary origin of aging”.

However, if people compare my earlier publications on bacterial life and biotic aging (28, 29) (18, 30, 31) and also on the evolution of biotic aging (3, 11-14, 20, 23-25, 27), it is very clear that Ackermann et al. study on bacterial aging and the origin of aging in prokaryote presented no new discovery.

Let me listed just some selected titles of my previous presentations and publications on bacterial aging and the origin of biotic aging.

 

Table 1. Liu’s study on bacterial life and origin of biotic aging (see table at the end)

 

From above list- which is still far from being comprehensive- I wish people will see that it is not true that the discovery on bacterial aging was not made until 2003 when Ackermann et al. made their first publication in Science.  In addition, the identification of an earlier origin of biotic aging in prokaryotes was already made before Ackermann et al.  2007 modeling study published in Aging Cell.

How could Ackermann et al. not see those earlier publications when some of them were actually published in some mainstream journals?  How could Ackermann et al. not even hear of any thing about the earlier studies on bacterial aging when these studies were already presented in several international scientific meetings?  Ackermann et al.’s publications were peer-reviewed by the experts in their field.   How could those “world-class” experts even do not know the whole world of their research field?   Ackermann et al.’s publications appeared in some respected journals.  Were the editors or the board members of these journals all lacking a knowledge that some prior publications on these very same topic exist?  Science actually rejected a key submission entitled “Toward a New Understanding of Bacterial Life” in 1997 and has rejected many subsequent related submissions (21).

It is amazing how such an outrageous misrepresentation can be sustained in the top scientific journals for so long time despite the fact that repeated efforts have been made to expose this downright lie (4-8, 16, 17, 19).  Those journals had their right to reject some breakthrough discoveries when they lacked the insight for appreciating those discoveries in the early stage of a scientific development (21).  However, who give them the right to ignore the pioneering publications when their conclusions were proved to be very correct and to glorify only those later observations as the “discoveries”?

The lie has got to cease and instead the credit has to be given to a true pioneer!

 

References

 

1.     Ackermann, M., L. Chao, C. T. Bergstrom, and M. Doebeli. 2007. On the evolutionary origin of aging. Aging Cell 6:235-44.

2.     Ackermann, M., S. C. Stearns, and U. Jenal. 2003. Senescence in a bacterium with asymmetric division. Science 300:1920.

3.     Liu, S. V. 2006. Asymmetry under symmetry. Pioneer 1:29-30.

4.     Liu, S. V. 2005. Bacterial aging study: The pioneering works. Science of Aging Knowledge Environment (SAGE KE) http://sageke.sciencemag.org/cgi/forum-display/short/sageke_el;307.

5.     Liu, S. V. 2005. Barking at the wrong tree. Logical Biology 5:73-75.

6.     Liu, S. V. 2006. Cheating researchers played a cheating game. Sci. Ethics 1:108-110.

7.     Liu, S. V. 2006. Cheating should perish from scientific literature Logical Biology 6:90-92.

8.     Liu, S. V. 2007. Cleaning the house: Expelling a Trojan horse from the LB editorial board. Logical Biology 7:3-4.

9.     Liu, S. V. 1997. Presented at the 97th General Meeting of American Society for Microbiology, Miami Beach, FL, May 4-8.

10.   Liu, S. V. 2006. A deadly wrong immortalization model for bacteria and life beyond. Logical Biology 6:84-87.

11.   Liu, S. V. 2006. Eccentric microbes or eccentric microbiologists? − Recapturing a 15-year-long fight against dogma. Pioneer 1:33-48.

12.   Liu, S. V. 2006. Evolution: An integrated theory - Criticisms on Darwinism -Fifteen years ago. Pioneer 1:10-28.

13.   Liu, S. V. 2005. A high time to unify biology under common life principles. Logical Biology 5:66-69.

14.   Liu, S. V. 2005. An illogical and unscientific argument against Liu's bacterial/cell life model and its implication for cell synchronization. Logical Biology 5:335-349.

15.   Liu, S. V. 2004. Method and apparatus for producing age-synchronized cells.  US patent US6767734B.

16.   Liu, S. V. 2006. The misconduct of “top” journals in exposing scientific misconduct. Sci. Ethics 1:17-19.

17.   Liu, S. V. 2007. PNAS: A permanent niche for aggressive sin. Sci. Ethics 2:7-20.

18.   Liu, S. V. 2004. Prokaryotic aging: Breaking through the “cell cycle” limitation. Logical Biology 4:1-6.

19.   Liu, S. V. 2005. A public robbery of science in the public library of science. Logical Biology 5:76-78.

20.   Liu, S. V. 2006. Rectify the distorted microscopic view on life: an open letter to microbiologists. Microbe 1:1.

21.   Liu, S. V. 2005. A revelation of top journals’ rejections on novel discoveries. Logical Biology 5:254-271.

22.   Liu, S. V. 2005. Right direction but backward movement: A new finding or a flawed repetition in bacterial aging study? Logical Biology 5:38-47.

23.   Liu, S. V. 2005. Searching for the deep root and fundamental mechanism of biotic aging. Logical Biology 5:89-91.

24.   Liu, S. V. 2005. Single-cell microbiology needs visions. ASM News 71:157-158.

25.   Liu, S. V. 2005. Stop reinforcing misinformation in microbiology. Logical Biology 5:289-293.

26.   Liu, S. V. 1998. Presented at the 150th American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting, Philadelphia,PA, February 12-17.

27.   Liu, S. V. 2006. Presented at the 3rd International Conference on Functional Genomics of Ageing Palermo, Sicily, Italy, March 29th – April 1st

28.  Liu, S. V. 1999. Tracking bacterial growth in liquid media and a new bacterial life model. Science in China (Series C: Life Science) (English) 42:644-654.

29.   Liu, S. V. 1999. Tracking bacterial growth in liquid media and a new bacterial life model. Science in China (Series C: Life Science) (Chinese) 29:571-579.

30.   Liu, S. V., and J. J. Zhang. 2004. Age synchronization of Caulobacter crescentus and implications for prokaryotic aging study. Logical Biology 4:7-15.

31.   Liu, S. V., and J. J. Zhang. 2004. Crossband in Caulobacter’s stalk is a cell reproduction remnant and bacterial age indicator. Logical Biology 4:16-27.

32.   Stewart, E. J., R. Madden, G. Paul, and F. Taddei. 2005. Aging and death in an organism that reproduces by morphologically symmetric division. PLoS Biol 3:295-300.

33.   Watve, M., S. Parab, P. Jogdand, and S. Keni. 2006. Aging may be a conditional strategic choice and not an inevitable outcome for bacteria. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 103:14831-5.

 

 

* The publication here is the same as sent to Ackermann et al. except for the added highlight and keywords.

 



Table 1. Selected presentations and publications of Liu’s study on bacterial life and origin of biotic aging

 

Year

Title

Presented or Published

1997

Understanding microbial life cycle and cell cycle

 

Invited seminar given at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institute of Health(NIH)

1997

Continuous observation of individual development and family formation of Escherichia coli and a proposal of universal bacterial life model

Poster presented at the 97th General Meeting of ASM (American Society for Microbiology) *1

1998

Toward a new understanding of microbial life

 

Poster presented at the 150th American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting

1998

Living as cells: A microbial experience

Invited seminar given at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institute of Health(NIH)

1999

Tracking bacterial growth in liquid media and a new bacterial life model

Science in China 42: 644-654

1999

The validation of microbial "resuscitation"

ASM News 65:185

2000

What is bacterial life?

Logical Biology 1: 5-16

2000

Logical fallacies and methodological mistakes in microbiology - An overview

Logical Biology 1: 25-31

2000

Revisiting the concept of microbial resuscitation

ASM News 66:123

2000

Debating controversies can enhance creativity

Nature 403: 592 *2

2000

Method and apparatus for producing age-synchronized cells

US patent US6767734B applied in 2000 and granted in 2004 *3

2004

Prokaryotic aging: Breaking through the “cell cycle” limitation

Logical Biology 4: 1-6

2004

Age synchronization of Caulobacter crescentus and implications for prokaryotic aging study

Logical Biology 4: 7-15

2004

Crossband in Caulobacter’s stalk is a cell reproduction remnant and bacterial age indicator

Logical Biology 4: 16-27

2004

Age synchronization: Retrospectives and perspectives

Logical Biology 4: 88-101

2005

Debating cell-synchronization methodologies: further points and alternative answers

Trends in Biotechnol. 23: 9-10

2005

Single-cell microbiology needs visions

ASM News 71: 157-158

2005

Right direction but backward movement: A new finding or a flawed repetition in bacterial aging study?

Logical Biology 5: 38-47*4

2005

Linking DNA aging with cell aging and combining genetics with epigenetics

Logical Biology 5: 51-55

2005

Understanding the limit of the Hayflick Limit

Logical Biology 5: 58-65

2005

A high time to unify biology under common life principles

Logical Biology 5: 66-69

2005

Searching for the deep root and fundamental mechanism of biotic aging

Logical Biology 5: 89-91

2005

A Theoretical framework for understanding biotic aging from molecule to organism in multicellular life

Logical Biology 5: 109-116

2005

Stop reinforcing misinformation in microbiology

Logical Biology 5: 289-293 *5

2005

An illogical and unscientific argument against Liu's bacterial/cell life model and its implication for cell synchronization

Logical Biology 5: 335-349 *6

2005

Bacterial aging study: The pioneering works

 

SAGE KE (http://sageke.sciencemag.org/cgi/forum-display/short/sageke_el:307)

2006

Rectify the distorted microscopic view on life: an open letter to microbiologists

Microbe 1: 1

2006

Stewart, Nystrom, and Cooper: please behave as a corresponding author

Sci. Ethics 1: 59-63

2006

Bacterial age

Pioneer 1: 8-9

2006

Evolution: An integrated theory - Criticisms on Darwinism -Fifteen years ago

Pioneer 1: 10-28

2006

Asymmetry under symmetry

Pioneer 1: 29-30

2006

Eccentric microbes or eccentric microbiologists? − Recapturing a 15-year-long fight against dogma

Pioneer 1: 33-48

2006

An emperor with no clothes

Pioneer 1: 59-61

2006

Towards a deep understanding of the fundamental and universal mechanism of biotic aging

3rd International Conference on Functional Genomics of Ageing

2006

Put the immortality concept to death

Logical Biology 6: 52-53

2006

Revisit semi-conservative DNA replication and immortal DNA strand hypothesis

Logical Biology 6: 54-61

2006

Cell division versus cell reproduction: No evidence for cell "division"

Logical Biology 6: 62-64

2006

A deadly wrong immortalization model for bacteria and life beyond

Logical Biology 6: 84-87 *7

2006

Cell does not cycle and cannot be divided

Logical Biology 6: 103-105

2007

I am the mother, you stupid! - A correct perspective and a benign wish

Logical Biology 7: 29-33

2007

Aging mechanism fully described but not accepted

Top Watch 2: 6-7

 

*1 Urs Jenal, a co-author of the 2003 Science publication by Ackermann et al. attended this meeting and was in the same session that this poster was presented.

*2 This Nature Correspondence announced the starting of an open-access and open-review scientific journal, Logical Biology, to the world and specifically mentioned discussing the nature of bacterial life as a topic for debating controversy to enhance creativity.

*3 The US Patent and Trademark Office publishes all applications within a year of the filing of the applications.  These publications are freely accessible to the whole world.

*4  This is a scientific criticism on the mistakes contained in the 2005 Stewart et al.’s PLoS Biology publication.

*5 This is a scientific criticism on the mistaken view expressed by Nystrom in his Feature article in ASM News.

*6 This is a rebuttal on Cooper’s Comment on my cell life theory.  Cooper’s Comment was already accepted for publication in Trends in Biotechnology.  However, the journal decided not to publish that Comment after receiving my rebuttal.

*7  This is a scientific criticism on Watve’s 2006 PNAS publication.

 

Notes added in publication:

 

1.       Summary of earlier emails with Martin Ackermann and Lin Chao.

Ackermann and Chao replied my initial inquries on their recent publication in Cell Aging.  Ackermann also told me that he did not get any hint of my earlier study on bacterial aging from Urs Jenal who was his co-mentor for PhD.

 

2.       Key point of phone conversation with Urs Jenal.

Urs Jenal did not reply my repeated email asking his participation in the 1997 ASM General Meeting in which my poster on bacterial aging was in the same session of his presentation.  However, upon calling him, he admitted his presence in that meeting but denied any knowledge of my study.  He also initially refused my request to make correction on citation mistake in their Science publication but asked me to send him related publications I have.

 

3.       The first formal letter sent to Ackermann at al. asking them for correcting citation oversight.

 

August 17, 2007

 

From: Shi V. Liu

To: Martin Ackermann, Urs Jenal, Stephen C. Stearns, Lin Chao, Carl T. Bergstrom, Michael Doebeli

 

Subject: Correcting a major citation failure in your publications

 

Dear Scientists,

 

I was very upset to see the continued distortion of the history in bacterial aging study.  Therefore I wrote a manuscript entitled "This outrageous lie has got to stop!" (See attached pdf).   However, I did not publish it right away because I wish to give some better exits for you so that you can continue on making your discovery in this very important research area.

 

I have contacted Martin and Lin about their recent Aging Cell paper, mainly for understanding some technical questions and why it was not published in a "top" journal. I really appreciate their quick and honest responses which are very helpful for me to understand their scientific positions as well as their likely role in the citation mistakes existing in their publications.

 

Martin was right in his guess that I am "obviously well informed about the topic and seem very interested".  However, I was a little disappointed that he quickly turned down the possibility of collaborating with a true pioneer in bacterial aging study.

 

I called Urs after not seeing his reply to my two emails asking his presence in the 1997 ASM General Meeting.   The exact reason for me to ask about a meeting which took place ten years ago is because I was wondering how Urs could not know my work in studying bacterial aging considering the fact that I presented a poster on that topic in that meeting which was attended by him (according to the abstract book).   Urs stated that he was there but he did not know my poster presentation.

 

Now, I wish you do yourselves a great favor and also make a solid contribution to science.   You should write to the respective journals where you have published your work on bacterial aging a rectification stating that you have overlooked my previous publications in that area.   I believe that this will not only return some truth to the scientific community but also save you from any potential disgrace and legal consequence.

 

I said that the article that I mentioned in the beginning of this letter was written immediately after I read the Aging Cell paper and before I contacted any of you.  I hope that I will not need to publish that article as a part of the efforts to enforce the corrections to be made as to the true story of bacterial aging research and the return of some credit deserved by a true pioneer.

 

True pioneers often have bold dreams.   As such, I am dreaming that my frank appeal to all of you can win the hearts of some true scientists and thus a united force can be formed to fight against some dogmatic views in science and transform a correct, albeit still marginalized view on bacterial/cell life into common wisdom in biology.

 

Please remember:  united we will win divided we may lose in fighting against a multi-centuries-old dogma.   It will be helpful not to reject any insight offered by a true pioneer.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

 

Shi V. Liu MD PhD

Director, Eagle Institute of Molecular Medicine

Editor, Logical Biology, Scientific Ethics, Top Watch, Pioneer, International Medicine

President, Truthfinding Cyberpress

Staff Scientist, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)*

 

* The mentioning of this affiliation is just for a truthful revelation of my positions and does not mean any endorsement by and entitlement to US EPA of my previous discoveries.

 

SVL8EPA@gmail.com

919-272-5146

 

 

PS

 

The following articles are attached:

1.       My article denouncing a continued lie (to be used just for introducing some background information for now or forever?)

2.       The abstract for my presentation at the 1997 ASM general meeting.

3.       The abstract for my presentation at the 1998 AAAS annual meeting.

4.       The 1999 Science in China publication (English version).

5.       The US patent applied in 2000, continued in 2002 and granted in 2004.

 

More publications can be given upon respectful request.

 

 

4.       The second letter to Ackermann at al. warning them of the serious consequence of doing nothing to correct their mistake.

 

August 24, 2007

 

Dear Scientists,

 

I sent you an email and some attached documents last week but so far I have not received any response from anyone of you.

 

I just wish to remind you that your missing of conducting a due responsibility – correcting your citation mistake and distortion of history – will change the nature of your previous "oversight" mistake into a genuine intentional misconduct.

 

I will give you one more week to do something that is correct and thus will save you from major embarrassment and severe consequence.   If I still do not receive any reply from you that indicates your genuine interest in making a true correction by next Friday August 31, 2007, I will make you past and current behaviors public and start a moral and legal justification course.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

 

Shi V. Liu MD PhD

Director, Eagle Institute of Molecular Medicine

Editor, Logical Biology, Scientific Ethics, Top Watch, Pioneer, International Medicine

President, Truthfinding Cyberpress

Staff Scientist, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)*

 

* The mentioning of this affiliation is just for a truthful revelation of my positions and does not mean any endorsement by and entitlement to US EPA of my previous discoveries.

 

SVL8EPA@gmail.com

919-272-5146