Controversy at ULE due to suspicion of “massive fraud” by a researcher


The controversy hovers over the Vegazana campus due to suspicions of fraud in the work of some researchers from the University of León (ULE). Although there are several teachers who could be involved in the case, doubts have arisen mainly on the figure of Javier Gonzalez Gallegowho would have incurred a series of anomalies in the studies he published for decades in different scientific journals.

Questions about the results obtained in the González-Gallego investigations stem from around 50 anonymous complaints that have been filed throughout this summer in “PubPeer”, a scientific discussion portal that operates internationally. Currently, according to the researcher himself, the specialized journals that have published these studies have contacted González-Gallego to provide the necessary documentation in order to maintain, modify or withdraw the suspicious publications.

The rector’s team is aware of the situation and, for now, is waiting for what the publications will decide. In some of the publications discussed in ‘PubPeer’, the former director of the ULE Institute of Biomedicine (Ibiomed) appears as the main author and in others as a collaborator. As González-Gallego explains to this newspaper, “some studies have been done in León and some have not” and now he is responding to requests for clarification. “From there, the newspapers make decisions and they can say it’s a minor mistake or falsification that may need to be corrected, or the newspaper can decide there’s a serious problem and the story needs to be corrected. be removed. Some of these complaints do not correspond to reality and there has not been any type of manipulation or problem, beyond a somewhat particular interpretation in ‘PubPeer’. In other cases, there are problems of potential errors that can resort to correction and we are in this phase”, recognizes the professor of physiology.

Most suspicions are expressed in numbers or pictures of experiments that presumably would have been modified to achieve certain results. Most of the complaints filed in July and August in ‘PubPeer’ refer to studies in which González-Gallego participated between 2002 and 2021.

Work on melatonin and cancer

These accusations in ‘PubPeer’ are supplemented by an article published in the ‘For Better Science’ portal, which specializes in research ethics. The author, Leonid Schneider, compiles in the text a series of works in which González-Gallego allegedly committed different types of “fraud”. Although he directly points to several other ULE researchers, whom he describes as a “gang of data falsifiers in León”, he recognizes the “leitmotif” of the one who led Ibiomed.

Fifty articles by González-Gallego were denounced in a scientific discussion portal Schneider, a freelance science journalist with more than a decade of experience in biomedical research, specifically attacks González-Gallego’s work on the use of melatonin to fight cancer. As he points out in his paper, this study and others are said to have “superimposed sets of images that are described as being processed differently.” Similarly, there would be repeated patterns in some of Prof. ULE’s work on different liver diseases. “It’s a massive fraud”, values ​​Schneider in declarations to this newspaper.

the owner of “For Better Science” He also clarified his lack of hope that an investigation would be carried out in Spain to clarify what happened. For his part, González-Gallego accuses Schneider of making “rough interpretations” and of falling into “errors” in his article. “Regardless of the anonymous complaints for which the magazines are asking for answers, this article is full of lies and repeats fragments of ‘PubPeer’ or taken out of context of private correspondence between the author and other people”, indicates the suspected researcher. .

The position of the University

The ULE is aware of these events and the presbytery team is currently “on standby” for the unfolding of events. As the Vice-Rector for Research and Transfer explained to this newspaper, Charles Polanco, it was the researchers involved themselves who contacted the academic institution to report the situation. “We are aware of the situation and we are waiting to see if some articles, all or none are maintained. Depending on what happens and the number of publications concerned, we will have to see the situation that is generated”, explains Polanco.

Although the University is appealing for the “benefit of the doubt”, for several weeks a follow-up of the case has been underway. Now the ball is in the court of the magazines that published the investigations of González-Gallego and the rest of the ULE professors who, presumably, would have incurred a series of anomalies in their work. Although the controversy has already been served at the Vegazana Campus, everyone is waiting for what will finally happen to these studies currently in question.

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