Photoshop Phun At The Baylor College Of Medicine

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The wonders of Photoshop are bountiful -- they let Sooner football fans taunt UT; they allow people to make bold, trenchant analysis of the current socio-political world by showing George Bush in his "Mission Accomplished" flightsuit in unlikely settings; they probably have something to do with lolcats, for all we know.

In addition to all those wonders, it turns out, Photoshop can be used to fake a report "that investigated the role of the germ cell nuclear factor on the expression of pluripotency genes in mouse embryonic stem cells."

At least in Houston.

The Scientist magazine reported today (registration required) that a ruling by an impressive-sounding medical-research board had declared that a Baylor College of Medicine staffer had Photoshopped pictures in three scientific papers in 2005 and 2006.

Peili Gu "sliced and diced lanes from Western blots to insert, delete, or duplicate various bands and lanes in multiple figures," the magazine reported, in a sentence that makes perfect sense to us.

(We're pretty sure it means she put an image of Justin Timberlake looking at Janet Jackson's nipple on an amoeba. We could be wrong.)

Gu's supervisor had this to say: "It's stupid and crazy really. The work is good and we stand by it, it's just Photoshop [manipulations]."

Gu no longer works at Baylor.

We're trying to get a response from Baylor on this; we'll update if we do.

Update: Here's the official statement from Dr. Susan Hamilton, senior vice president and dean of research, Baylor College of Medicine:

Baylor College of Medicine conducted an internal investigation into allegations of scientific misconduct by Dr. Peili Gu, former postdoctoral researcher, after the allegations were brought to the attention of the college's Committee on Scientific Integrity. The results of the internal investigation were reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Research Integrity. The college supports the findings of the ORI. Dr. Gu left Baylor College of Medicine on March 17, 2007.

-- Richard Connelly

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