Monday, March 09, 2009

Followup on Garner and scientific plagiarism

Relevant to the recent IPBiz post titled
Scientific plagiarism
on work by Harold Garner on plagiarism in science articles, one IPBiz reader raised a different issue, more about Garner himself.

As background on this, recall that, although IPBiz takes a strong stance against plagiarism (repeatedly ridiculing the Harvard Business Review [HBR] text "plagiarize with pride"), IPBiz has always said that publishing false things does more damage to society than publishing true things, without giving credit to the original author. Both are bad, but circulating falsities does more damage.

For example:

Coulter plagiarism? : As a general proposition, society is harmed a lot more by the passing off of false information as true, such as happened in the matter of Hwang Woo-Suk in the embryonic stem cell area, than it is by misattribution of source (of true information). Plagiarism is not a good thing, but peddling falsities is worse.

Dr. Strangelove: still cause for worry
Propagating bad information is worse than plagiarizing truthful information.

Adam Jaffe checking out turnitin, but will he correct Innovation and Its Discontents?
: As IPBiz has pointed out many times, saying wrong things is worse than improperly taking credit for right things.

Plagiarism in the journal Proteomics
: The people who "reviewed" journals don't pick up on a lot. As IPBiz has noted, publishing WRONG things is far worse for the public than not properly crediting the source of right things (tho both are bad).

With that background, note text on Harold Garner at

Skip received his BS in Nuclear Engineering (minor in computer science) at the University of Missouri - Rolla in 1976. Skip received a Ph.D. in plasma/high temperature matter physics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1982. He also holds an honorary professional engineering degree. Skip worked for 12 years at General Atomics in La Jolla, California, where he conducted experimental and theoretical research for the Department of Energy at international fusion research facilities, principally in Japan (5 years) and the Soviet Union. In the last 6 years at General Atomics, he was a founding member of The Institute for Development and Application of Advanced Technologies, an internal think tank group, where he developed artificial intelligence/expert systems, new particle accelerators, high temperature superconductors, stealth technologies and biology software and instrumentation. Skip currently holds the P. O’B. Montgomery, M.D., Distinguished Chair, is a Professor of Biochemistry and Internal Medicine, is a member of the McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development (Human Genetics Center) and a founding member of the Division of Tranlational Research (DTR). Our research is in three areas: 1) applied computational biology, 2) advanced instrumentation development and 3) genetics, genomics and proteomics research that capitalizes on our software findings and instrumentation capabilities. Additional information and our on-line computational resources can be found on the www at [bolding added]

One IPBiz reader commented on this text:

[Removed as of 7:15am on March 10]

In explanation, Dr. Garner phoned at 6:45 am on March 10, 2009, awaking me from a sound sleep, and informed me that he took issue with the comments by the IPBiz reader. Although I explained to him that I had nothing with which to take notes, he proceeded to work through many items. As best that I understand, he stated

--> he was a founding member of The Institute for Development and Application of Advanced Technologies,

--> he did develop artificial intelligence/expert systems, new particle accelerators, high temperature superconductors, stealth technologies and biology software and instrumentation.

--> the biological instrumentation (a cuvette for UV/vis) was commercialized (by one "Helix Company" in conjunction with Beckmann Instuments.

--> He was working with the Salk Labs when he went to Texas

While the IPBiz commenter had made a point about commercialization of instruments (not about patenting), IPBiz notes that Dr. Garner received patents in the area of biology instrumentation. The presence of patents does not prove the existence of commercialization. Separately, there is no evidence that Dr. Garner received any patents in the area of superconductors or in the area of accelerators. There is no patent issued to Garner with the word "stealth." Of course, the word "develop" covers a range of meaning.

Some patents of Dr. Garner in the area of biology instrumentation include-->

** US 4,991,958
(first claim: An adaptor for holding a micropipette in a spectrophotometer having a source of collimated light and a detector which comprises:

a base member formed with a first hole and a conical well distanced from said first hole, said conical well being aligned with said first hole and cooperating therewith to hold said micropipette;

a directing lens for linearly focusing the collimated light from said light source along the axis of said micropipette; and

a receiving lens to recollimate the light passed through said micropipette for measurement by said detector. )

**US 5,092,674
(first claim: An adaptor for holding a micropipette in a spectrophotometer having a source of collimated light and a detector, comprising:

a first layer and a second layer;

a metal base member adapted to hold said micropipette, said base member being positioned between and attached to said first and second layers;

a heater wire in direct contact with said base member for heating said base member holding said micropipette; and

means for monitoring the temperature of said base member. )

**5,094,531 (with Peranich; Larry S)
(first claim: A device for converting a spectrophotometer having a source for generating a beam of collimated light for illuminating a sample material and a detector for determining the light absorption characteristics of the material into a fluorometer having a detector for determining the fluorescence of the material which comprises:

a barrier for blocking light in said beam which has passed through said material from being incident on said detector of said spectrophotometer;

means for positioning said detector of said fluorometer to receive light which is fluorescently emitted from said material; and

means for communicatively engaging said detector of said fluorometer and said detector of said spectrophotometer. )

**US 5,104,218 (Micropipette adaptor for spectrofluorimeters )

**US 5,166,743 (Assembly for converting a spectrophotometer to a fluorometer)

**US 5,241,363 ( Micropipette adaptor with temperature control for PCR amplification)

**Of Helix-->

Helix appears to have been a division of General Atomics [GA] formed in July 1990. A past issue of IEEExplore notes:

Glen Shephard is currently General Manager
of the Helix Division of General Atomics. He-
lix designs and manufactures analytical instru-
mentation, software and spectroscopy
accessories for the molecular biology market-
place. Pnor to his current position, Glen has
held various technical and management posi-
tions at General Atomics including Director of
Information Systems. He received his B.S. in
Computer Science from the University of Florida in 1973 and
M.S. in Electrical Engineering from San Diego State in 1979.

Dr. Garner agreed to provide me with written documentation of all points with which he took issue with the IPBiz commenter. He stated that this documentation was copyrighted, and therefore I would have to agree not to post it on the blog. As of 8am on March 10, Dr. Garner has not sent anything to me. Dr. Garner is free to post a comment to this entry on IPBiz. [UPDATE: Dr. Garner did send material, which I can't post. The initial IPBiz reader/commenter also sent material, which I am not posting. There is a relevant comment below, which I herewith note but make no comments upon.]

**Also on Dr. Garner -->

From ScienceDirect:
Harold R. (Skip) Garner , Can informatics keep pace with molecular biology?, Chemometrics and Intelligent Laboratory Systems
Volume 26, Issue 2, November 1994, Pages 69-77.

Can informatics keep pace with molecular biology?
Harold R. (Skip) Garner
McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development, University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, TX 75235, USA

Received 6 April 1994;
accepted 28 June 1994. ;
Available online 9 September 2003.

A host of new enabling technologies allows the molecular biologist to process many more samples and generate more data than was previously possible. These technologies include automated sequencing, biological robots, rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based screening, fluorescence in situ hybridization, etc. Informatics research is underway to develop algorithms, software and hardware to attack the mounting data produced by pharmaceuticals firms, animal paternity testing, the Human Genome Project (HGP) and others. The Human Genome Project is developing advanced technology, methods and computational tools for the collection, archival, analysis and visualization of a vast amount of data associated with genome maps and sequences. This program will be a litmus test to determine if technology can keep pace with molecular biology. The trend is towards linking all the basic diagnostic tools to computer networks or laboratory instrument management systems to attain high throughput and high data quality.
Genetic Analysis: Biomolecular Engineering
Volume 9, Issues 5-6, October-December 1992, Pages 134-139
High-throughput DNA preparation system
Harold R. Garner , a, Barbara Armstronga and Daniel A. Kramarskya
aDevelopment of Advanced Technology, General Atomics, San Diego, California, USA
A system demonstrating the feasibility of high-throughput, centrifugation-based DNA separations and purifications has been constructed and tested. Samples are currently processed at a rate of 96 in approximately 2–3 h. The device implements an automation-optimized alakaline lysis protocol for the rapid extraction of plasmid or cosmid DNA from 1-ml bacteria cultures. The conditions for optimal culturing in deep-well (96 × 1 ml) microwell plates have been developed, and all sample manipulations are done within these plates. The use of microwell plates was essential to obtain high throughput and make manipulations following the DNA preparation (prep) easier because they can then be manipulated using a variety of commercially available robots. The entire prep system is constructed above a Beckman GPR centrifuge and operated under Macintosh IIcx control. This device has systems for fluid handling, microwell-plate manipulations, and centrifuge rotor alignment.

Address correspondence to Dr. H.R. Garner, Institute for Development of Advanced Technology, General Atomics, PO Box 85608, San Diego, CA 92186, USA.

On resume fraud in the Trump empire==>

Resume of Trump's E.J. Ridings questioned

On resume fraud in academics-->

Plagiarism in academics, I'm shocked!

**Returning to the initial theme of plagiarism in scientific journals, it will not be difficult to find examples of plagiarism, most specifically of self-plagiarism (aka multiple publication), in scientific journals. This is "gambling in Casablanca."


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9:32 PM  
Blogger Tigerpaw said...

I worked at General Atomics during the time Skip Garner was there, and I do not believe his resume is inflated with respect to the items you question. The director of the Institute at GA was Tihiro Ohkawa, a very distinguished scientist and a winner of the APS Maxwell Award for Plasma Physics. Ohkawa took some of the best and brightest at GA with him into the Institute, which was his last venture at GA before his retirement from the company (but not from active scientific work). Skip was among these. The vast variety of things he worked on reflected some of Ohkawa's many interests. One of the exercises he would set for the fusion scientists he directed in the 1970s was to keep a journal in which one developed six innovations before breakfast each morning. He gave an award for the best journal turned in after six weeks. The stealth technologies on which Skip worked were related to an insight Ohkawa had, one which derived from biology. Ohkawa knew that people don't get sunburns on their scalps because of the optical characteristics of their hair, which both absorbs and re-reflects sunlight. He reasoned that an object such as an orbiting satellite would be difficult to track if it were covered with "hair"--his suggestion was thin graphite wires, like a porcupine, all over the outside of the satellite. Skip was working on some variant of this notion. Ohkawa had his group submit patent applications as soon as some version of a notion had been built; it is not clear to me--and you could certainly search it much better than I could--whether any applications were submitted on this topic. I've had only the briefest contact with Skip since he went to Texas, but I knew him to be a hell of an innovator then (I was the science writer for the fusion folks), and it wouldn't surprise me at all if everything in the resume is but a muted version of his actual trajectory.

My name is Merry Maisel, and I worked in the GA fusion group from 1979 through 1985. I then became a science writer for the San Diego Supercomputer Center, which was started by GA with funding from the National Science Foundation, and which is now a unit of UC San Diego. I have since retired.

12:56 PM  

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