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Nobel Winner’s Contribution Questioned

A coauthor of the key paper that led to one of this year’s Nobel Prizes for Physiology or Medicine claims the recipient wasn’t involved in the research.

By | December 19, 2011

image: Nobel Winner’s Contribution Questioned Bruno Lemaitre (left) and Jules Hoffmann (right) EPFL (Lemaitre), Wikipedia (Hoffmann)

Bruno Lemaitre (left) and Jules Hoffmann (right)EPFL (LEMAITRE), WIKIPEDIA (HOFFMAN)

A scientist is accusing French immunologist Jules Hoffmann, who was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine along with Bruce Beutler for the discovery in Drosophila that the Toll gene regulates the immune response against bacteria and fungi, of not doing the research that led to the prize. The accusation comes from none other than the first author of the 1996 Cell paper where the finding was reported, Bruno Lemaitre.

Lemaitre, who worked as a research associate in Hoffmann’s lab at the at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Strasbourg, France, from 1992 to 1998, claims that for most of the 1990s, he was the only researcher working on Toll and that Hoffmann did not express interest and was for the most part not aware of his research.

“Jules never provided any ideas for my project, being very far from the realities of experimental bench work…[and] was not very supportive of the genetics approach I had undertaken,” Lemaitre wrote in a story outlining his take on the work the led to the Nobel. “Subsequently, he has never been able to fully recognize my contribution, yet somehow it is he who is now collecting the honours for my work.” He published the story in a website he created to voice his frustrations on the subject.

Although Hoffmann refuses to address Lemaitre’s accusations on account that it “would not be elegant,” he told ScienceInsider last week that he “cannot feel any guilt at all," and that Lemaitre and others involved in the work received their due credit in the Nobel lecture he gave recently in Stockholm.

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Comments

Avatar of: Diogo

Diogo

Posts: 1457

December 19, 2011

Really???
Thats is not the first time it happens and it wont be the last! In academy structure, some people work hard and other just receive the glories as in Lemaitre's example!

Avatar of: mlerman

mlerman

Posts: 4

December 19, 2011

It's a trivial story, goes back in time up to antiquity. Similarly, the Nobel was given to Drs H. Varmus and M. Bishop for the discovery of the cellular origin of oncogene named sarc, while another post doc claimed he did the work.
Michael Lerman, Ph.D., M.D.

Avatar of: Victor Calvo

Victor Calvo

Posts: 4

December 19, 2011

This remind me of the Bosse-Einstein paper, which happens over and over because Editorial committees DON'T do their work. Sorry Bruno, it still happens in Napoleonic Universities all over the world.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 19, 2011

Really???
Thats is not the first time it happens and it wont be the last! In academy structure, some people work hard and other just receive the glories as in Lemaitre's example!

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 19, 2011

It's a trivial story, goes back in time up to antiquity. Similarly, the Nobel was given to Drs H. Varmus and M. Bishop for the discovery of the cellular origin of oncogene named sarc, while another post doc claimed he did the work.
Michael Lerman, Ph.D., M.D.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 19, 2011

This remind me of the Bosse-Einstein paper, which happens over and over because Editorial committees DON'T do their work. Sorry Bruno, it still happens in Napoleonic Universities all over the world.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 19, 2011

Really???
Thats is not the first time it happens and it wont be the last! In academy structure, some people work hard and other just receive the glories as in Lemaitre's example!

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 19, 2011

It's a trivial story, goes back in time up to antiquity. Similarly, the Nobel was given to Drs H. Varmus and M. Bishop for the discovery of the cellular origin of oncogene named sarc, while another post doc claimed he did the work.
Michael Lerman, Ph.D., M.D.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 19, 2011

This remind me of the Bosse-Einstein paper, which happens over and over because Editorial committees DON'T do their work. Sorry Bruno, it still happens in Napoleonic Universities all over the world.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 20, 2011

I
agree with previous comments. This is not the first time nor will be the last
for sure. However in most cases I guess we always have to give some credit to
the laboratory director, who most of times is aware (and part of) the
discoveries. However, History usually is not fair with people who actually do
the bench work

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 20, 2011

I
agree with previous comments. This is not the first time nor will be the last
for sure. However in most cases I guess we always have to give some credit to
the laboratory director, who most of times is aware (and part of) the
discoveries. However, History usually is not fair with people who actually do
the bench work

Avatar of: Juan Carlos Mayo

Juan Carlos Mayo

Posts: 1

December 20, 2011

I
agree with previous comments. This is not the first time nor will be the last
for sure. However in most cases I guess we always have to give some credit to
the laboratory director, who most of times is aware (and part of) the
discoveries. However, History usually is not fair with people who actually do
the bench work

Avatar of: Raman Parkesh

Raman Parkesh

Posts: 1457

December 21, 2011

This is the problem in science. Science is business. PI who has the money controls everything with the active support of the institute. Most of the time PI have no clue what the project is, how to design experiment and even how to write a good research paper. Everything is done by Postdoc or graduate student and then when finally story is ready PI jumps to take the credit and corresponding authorship. In my opinion, all the authors should be corresponding author and one author should be responsible for dealing with the paper work with the journal. In each and every paper, the contribution of the authors should be clearly stated.

But I don't think this will happen in near future because when postdoc becomes the PI he or she will do the same as PI and this vicious circle will go on. Some day there will be justice and how we do the science and give credit will change. But on the other hand, why should we bother about the Nobel Prize. What is Nobel Prize anyway? Does Nobel Prize have any meaning in modern science. Everyone in the science field is aware of how science works so they are familiar with these situations.  I have stopped worshipping the modern great scientist as I know what the reality is. I think it is high time other also learn to digest this fact and then the problem will disappear.

Raman Parkesh, PhD

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 21, 2011

This is the problem in science. Science is business. PI who has the money controls everything with the active support of the institute. Most of the time PI have no clue what the project is, how to design experiment and even how to write a good research paper. Everything is done by Postdoc or graduate student and then when finally story is ready PI jumps to take the credit and corresponding authorship. In my opinion, all the authors should be corresponding author and one author should be responsible for dealing with the paper work with the journal. In each and every paper, the contribution of the authors should be clearly stated.

But I don't think this will happen in near future because when postdoc becomes the PI he or she will do the same as PI and this vicious circle will go on. Some day there will be justice and how we do the science and give credit will change. But on the other hand, why should we bother about the Nobel Prize. What is Nobel Prize anyway? Does Nobel Prize have any meaning in modern science. Everyone in the science field is aware of how science works so they are familiar with these situations.  I have stopped worshipping the modern great scientist as I know what the reality is. I think it is high time other also learn to digest this fact and then the problem will disappear.

Raman Parkesh, PhD

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 21, 2011

This is the problem in science. Science is business. PI who has the money controls everything with the active support of the institute. Most of the time PI have no clue what the project is, how to design experiment and even how to write a good research paper. Everything is done by Postdoc or graduate student and then when finally story is ready PI jumps to take the credit and corresponding authorship. In my opinion, all the authors should be corresponding author and one author should be responsible for dealing with the paper work with the journal. In each and every paper, the contribution of the authors should be clearly stated.

But I don't think this will happen in near future because when postdoc becomes the PI he or she will do the same as PI and this vicious circle will go on. Some day there will be justice and how we do the science and give credit will change. But on the other hand, why should we bother about the Nobel Prize. What is Nobel Prize anyway? Does Nobel Prize have any meaning in modern science. Everyone in the science field is aware of how science works so they are familiar with these situations.  I have stopped worshipping the modern great scientist as I know what the reality is. I think it is high time other also learn to digest this fact and then the problem will disappear.

Raman Parkesh, PhD

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