Helene Hill's Blog
Have I been and am I being bullied?
1. After the first Campus Committee on Research Integrity meets in 2001, I am relieved of my administrative appointment. Howell is named head of the Division of Radiation Research and is appointed my supervisor. He calls me into his office and tells me he does not want to have anything more to do with me.
2. At about that time, my Chairman, Dr Stephen Baker, in an unprecedented and demeaning move, sends email to all the members of the department that copies a letter sent to Howell stating the above changes in the department administration.
3. Howell in retaliation changes the locks to the Division laboratories and reassigns the keys, thereby locking me out of the laboratory that contains shared equipment (this is later countermanded by the administration).
4.) I am assigned to share a small laboratory with Dr Azzam. At the time, I have a small amount of private funding and am doing my own research. From time to time, Azzam removes my equipment from the laboratory and puts it into storage in a place that is never revealed nor made accessible to me. Eventually, I am left with 2 book boxes of assorted electrophoresis equipment and some pipet tips (no pipettors), down from earlier times: a 900 sq ft office and laboratory suite, students, a post-doc and a technician. What was taken away from me? Microscopes: phase contrast, fluorescence, inverted, upright, dissecting; electrophoresis apparatus: horizontal, vertical, pulse-field, iso-electric focusing, pumps, concentrators, power supply, trans-illuminator, pipettors, tips, etc, etc.
5.) For a time, I work with Azzam. He learns that I have reported to the ORI. He is very angry. He approaches and berates me, uses threatening language. We go our separate ways.
5.) Eventually, the Division moves to the new Cancer Center building. I am left behind in my small office. I find a place to work in a near-by lab in the Pediatrics Department where I do PCR to quantify DNA damage to mitochondria. I am never again invited to Radiation Research Division meetings and I am never introduced to any new members of the Division. I am, effectively, shunned.
6.) Time passes. The qui tam case is lost. Our attempts to publish are thwarted. I find I can pinpoint in the discovery materials the experimental results represented in some of the graphs in the 8 publications co-authored by Bishayee and Howell. I send a letter (qv) on July 10, 2013 to the editor of Micron regarding the experiments that back up the data reported in Figure 2 of that paper (qv). Copies to the editorial board and others, as appropriate (qv). I receive a letter (qv) from Dean Johnson, the Dean of our medical school, telling me “to cease and desist” or I will be dismissed. I turn to the AAUP, our faculty union, for help. I respond to the Dean (qv). I am told that the AAUP will support me if I am fired as a result of publishing a “peer-reviewed” paper. We will keep trying.
7.) I have my annual evaluation with Dr Baker, my chairman, in September. He tells me he was not shown the letter that I received from the Dean. Why not??
8.) I do not “cease and desist”.
I am working on publishing the Raw Data. It is quite a chore as I have to link each file separately. The links are in 2 forms -- created in the US Attorney's office by whoever copied the notebooks. Some of the links go directly to the relevant page (colonies or Coulters) and the link is only one page long. Other links go to the beginning of the experiment or even to the beginning of the whole notebook. In this case, you have to paginate through to get to the desired page. Some experiments have only raw hand-written data, others have that and spreadsheet results, as well.
Dr Pitt and I are working on revising our paper. I asked the Secretariat of the the American Society for Photobiology to send an email blast to the Society asking if anyone could provide us with colony count results in triplicate. So far we have had 2 responses, one of which resulted in some very useful data for controls: no more than the expected averages appearing in the triples. It is very gratifying to know there are scientists out there who are willing to help. Several years ago, we got Coulter data from two investigators that helped us establish that it was not the Coulter Counter that was flawed. Believe me, we appreciate all the support we can get.
Several people wanted to know if the PI had seen the statistical data. Well, of course I have no way of knowing what he did or did not look at. I do know that Dr Pitt's report was provided to the defense and should have been given to the PI for review. I also know that before he submitted the grant application he knew that I was suspicious that the data that went in to his figure 7 was not true and the results depicted there did not agree with my results performing the same experiment. He also knew in April, 1999 when he testified before the first Campus Committee on Research Integrity that neither he nor a second post-doctoral fellow had been able to repeat 5 of the so-called 100% experiments and 8 of the so-called 50% experiments. Eventually, there were 22 failed attempts to repeat the tritiated thymidine experiments reported in the 2 publications in Radiation Research (which Radiation Research has declined to retract). My lawyer when testifying before the Appeals Court emphasized that the PI had concealed this information from the Committee and from his department chairman.
7/18/12 Just gave a talk at the VAMC entitled Importance of Open Access to Research Data: A Case in Point. It was attended by graduate students, faculty, post-docs and staff. There was, over all, amazement that someone could get away with producing so much suspicious data and that the authorities did such a poor job of policing the research. The talk is posted on the website under the Publications tab.