The 12-million-year-old bones of a previously unknown species named Danuvius guggenmosi challenge the prevailing view about when and where our ancestors first started walking upright.

by CATHERINE OFFORD

Researchers in Germany have discovered the fossilized bones of a previously unknown species of ape that appeared to walk upright, according to a study published yesterday (November 6) in Nature. The bones, which the team dated to nearly 12 million years ago, suggest that bipedalism might have evolved in a common ancestor of humans and other great apes living in Europe, and not in more-recent human ancestors in Africa as many researchers had assumed.

The finding “changes the why, when and where of evolution of bipedality dramatically,” study coauthor Madelaine Böhme, a paleobiologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany, tells Reuters.

There are many theories about the evolution of bipedalism, but many assumed that upright walking appeared in our ancestors about 6 million to 8 million years ago—possibly as an adaptation to a reduction in forest cover occurring in East Africa around the same time.

See “Exploding Stars Probably Didn’t Spur Hominins to Walk Upright”
The new set of bones, unearthed from a clay pit in Bavaria between 2015 and 2018, are around 11.62 million years old and belong to several baboon-size apes, members of a species researchers have named Danuvius guggenmosi. The limbs show an unusual combination of anatomical features indicative of an ability to move both by swinging through trees and by walking upright.

“It was astonishing for us to realise during the process of research how similar certain bones were to humans, as opposed to great apes,” Böhme says in a statement, The Guardian reports.

“Together, the mosaic features of D. guggenmosi arguably provide the best model yet of what a common ancestor of humans and African apes might have looked like,” writes Tracy Kivell, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Kent who was not involved in the work, in an accompanying commentary in Nature. “It offers something for everyone: the forelimbs suited to life in the trees that all living apes, including humans, still have, and lower limbs suited to extended postures like those used by orangutans during bipedalism in the trees.”

The fossils could help researchers study hominid evolution more generally, the authors write in their paper. “With a broad thorax, long lumbar spine and extended hips and knees, as in bipeds, and elongated and fully extended forelimbs, as in all apes (hominoids), Danuvius combines the adaptations of bipeds and suspensory apes, and provides a model for the common ancestor of great apes and humans.”

https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/ape-fossils-shed-new-light-on-evolution-of-bipedalism-66695?utm_campaign=TS_DAILY%20NEWSLETTER_2019&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=79150661&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_EefiY-JAKl-yb1fxj7MqKSJdZEuyl0TTakFZw9e-FBzEMeisoBvJqoPoa27FyCkjRQIrlk-7oAhz3wSnBDjyyfqQk1A&_hsmi=79150661


With pressure to “publish or perish,” some scientists fake their research results. Elisabeth Bik spends her days correcting them.

by Gemma Milne

Elisabeth Bik spends her days trawling scientific papers, life sciences papers in particular, looking for signs of image manipulation. Put another way, she plays a backward game of “spot the difference” (backward because it’s more like “spot the similarity”) to seek out fraudulent work posing as science. She does this for free, week after week, along with other online science misconduct sleuths, in the pursuit of correcting the record upon which the world’s knowledge is based.

She is a self-appointed, image-manipulation detective — the Sherlock Holmes of science fraud.

It started with plagiarism before plagiarism became easy to catch. After reading about its prevalence in scientific papers, Bik, who had a 15-year career as a microbiology researcher, searched Google Scholar and found her own work had been copied. Then she set about finding other instances of this particular fraud. On one such investigation, she found a PhD thesis that not only had plagiarized text, but also an image that was reused throughout. The author had been trying to pass off the same image as a series of distinct results. “[The image] was mirrored, or turned around, but it had a very distinct little smear, which I recognized,” she says.

After reporting the fraudulent thesis to the university, resulting in its retraction, Bik realized she’d stumbled upon a new, strange hobby. “That was something I was good at, recognizing these patterns,” she says, “and so I started doing that more and more.” She soon found herself going through swaths of research papers during her evenings and weekends, and looking forward to getting home from her day job to continue.

It wasn’t long before Bik had amassed a huge collection of fraudulent papers. In 2016, she co-authored a paper revealing the fruits of her labor. Within her manual search of more than 20,000 pieces of biomedical research, 4% contained manipulated images. She reported those 800 papers, and she’s continued searching, sharing, and reporting ever since.

One of the initial 800 papers she reported was by Min-Jean Yin, who led the Pfizer California cancer lab at the time of the paper’s publication. It contained duplicated images of western blots, a common test used to detect specific protein molecules. The images produced from the test are the data, so editing them essentially amounts to chopping and changing results to fit whatever hypothesis the scientist is trying to prove.

After Bik reported the abnormalities both on popular research discussion forum PubPeer as well as on the science misconduct blog For Better Science, Pfizer not only fired Yin but also opened up a larger investigation into her years of work at their lab. This led them to retract many of her published papers focused on cancer therapeutics.


Image from the PubPeer listing questioning of one of Yin’s 2011 papers, with the red box annotating a copied crop. Credit: PubPeer

Bik is prolific on PubPeer and on Twitter, where she posts multicolored annotated graphics that point out how images have been manipulated to nearly 40,000 followers. “I’ve been a very quiet microbiologist until a few years ago when I joined Twitter,” she says with a laugh.

After earning a PhD in the Netherlands, 15 years at Stanford, and a few years in the science startup scene, this year, both Bik and her husband decided to take the leap into working on personal projects instead of for companies. Looking for fraud in research is more than just a fun hobby for Bik. “I’ve found this niche that I feel I can make a difference in,” she says. “I felt it was calling me.”

Bik often picks open-access journals, as they’re easier to flick through, or papers that are requested by other scientists who are tipping her off. “What I’m doing now is going into all the image manipulation cases I’ve already found and finding other papers by the same author, which could be in other journals.”

Living off savings, Bik reckons she has about a year’s leeway to work on her image manipulation sleuthing and hopes to find a way of monetizing her expertise as a science misconduct consultant to journals.

Published work in prestigious academic journals is the main currency of the science world, and career progression, respect, and compensation are often linked to publishing reputation. The most significant journals only publish research with big implications and strong evidence that represents a leap in knowledge, not just an incremental addition. Unfortunately, this can’t always be achieved through grit, hard work, and the right area of research, so some scientists succumb to “publish or perish” pressure by editing their images to show clearer results, re-using images to convey “desirable” scientific claims, or photoshopping their graphs to back up false, but exciting findings.

Other scientists may spend years of time and huge amounts of research funding trying to build upon false science. “My goal is not to have people disciplined; my goal is to correct the science,” Bik explains.

Despite Bik’s work finding these manipulations, she estimates that only 30% of those papers have been corrected or retracted. “By tweeting about it, I hope to accomplish two things,” she explains. “First, put pressure on journals to react, like those viral videos where people are mistreated on airplanes. And second, make them aware that fraud happens, so when they see a paper, they know what to look for.”

Journals are notoriously bad at handling scientific misconduct. Sometimes this failing is understandable: Correcting or retracting a published paper could mean getting in touch with a myriad of authors, who may have since changed universities, never reply, or be unable to produce the original data. It requires time and patience to hunt down either the rationale for an honest mistake or the admission of misconduct, and it reduces the bottom line of these profit-making enterprises.

But sometimes the lack of investigation is unjustified. Journals have been known to reject complaints that aren’t submitted correctly through their complex and out-of-date online systems, or — more worryingly — come from anonymous submissions. Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch, which keeps track of scientific retractions, says: “I would love for scientists, journals, and universities who refuse to take seriously anonymous complaints and allegations about papers to tell me how they feel about the anonymous whistle-blower [who brought forth concerns about President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine].”

Because reputation is paramount in science, anonymity is often required.

Much of the sleuthing is done by active scientists who use pseudonyms for fear of being ousted by their university or ostracized by the affected researchers. One such sleuth is Smut Clyde who, like Bik, spends huge amounts of time finding irregularities, knowing that their anonymous posts may not be accepted by the journals. “There are an awful lot of scientists [committing fraud]. Just picking out one or two doesn’t really make much of a difference — it’s just a drop in the ocean,” they told OneZero. “The best we can hope for is to raise awareness that the ocean is rather full already and ultimately shift the incentives. It’s more long-term than identifying one particular person who is up to no good.”

Bik is well-known and well-respected within the science misconduct community, not only for the prolific nature of her work but also because she writes and reports under her own name. In some ways, then, Bik is a surrogate for so many. She posts and reports publicly, often after being tipped off to papers from those who aren’t able to do it themselves: “Every day I get a new request.”

“I hope more people join me in the image manipulation search, as I feel we need more people doing this. There’s so many papers and I feel we need to clean ship.”
It’s the volunteers, the puzzle aficionados, the ones who do it because they feel they must, that are holding science to account. Conan Doyle’s fictional Sherlock Holmes famously inspired changes in police reporting; maybe one day the tenacity and sharp eyes of Bik and the rest of the image manipulation sleuths might inspire the institutions of science to do the same.

https://onezero.medium.com/this-science-vigilante-calls-out-bogus-results-in-prestigious-journals-eb5a414c7f76

By Steven Reinberg

Loneliness can take a heavy toll on heart patients — including a higher risk of death in the year after hospitalization, researchers found.

“This study confirms what has also been indicated in previous research regarding the serious health consequences of loneliness,” said lead researcher Anne Vinggaard Christensen, of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.

“Loneliness should be considered a serious risk factor in patients with cardiac disease and should be included in risk evaluation of patients,” added Christensen, who is with the hospital’s heart center.

The Danish researchers cautioned, however, that their findings can’t prove that loneliness caused people to die, only that loneliness and the risk of death appear to be connected. But the differences in mortality between those who felt lonely and those who didn’t can’t be explained by their medical condition alone, they said.

Loneliness is a subjective experience, one that is distressing and unpleasant, the researchers noted.

The connection between loneliness and health is complex, Christensen said.

People who are lonely or socially isolated tend to have more unhealthy lifestyles. They smoke more, are less likely to be physically active and don’t take their medication, she said.

“Having a social network helps motivate people to make healthier choices,” Christensen said. “A social network can act as a buffer for stress.”

Also, lonely people have been found to have higher levels of stress hormones and lower immune function, she added.

“These different pathways are interconnected and help us understand why people feeling lonely or socially isolated experience worse health,” Christensen said.

James Maddux is a professor emeritus in the department of psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Reviewing the findings, he took issue with the study’s methodology.

“My major concern about the methodology is that their measure of loneliness is rather weak and is not consistent with most studies about loneliness that I am familiar with,” Maddux said. He explained that the question used to measure loneliness failed to capture loneliness “as a profound sense of isolation and disconnected from others, accompanied by sadness and a longing to be with others. In other words, loneliness is painful.”

Still, even in its flawed state, the new study “adds to the growing research on the perils of social isolation among people in general and among older adults over 60 in particular,” said Maddux. “These results help reaffirm what we’ve learned so far about how unhealthy social isolation can be.”

For the study, Christensen and her colleagues collected data on more than 13,400 heart patients after they left the hospital from 2013 to 2014. Their average age was in the mid-60s.

Participants completed questionnaires on their health, psychological well-being, quality of life and levels of anxiety and depression.

Compared to people who didn’t feel lonely, those who said they were lonely were nearly three times more likely to be anxious and depressed and have a lower quality of life, the researchers found.

A year later, Christensen’s team found that feeling lonely had a significant impact on participants’ health.

Regardless of other factors, lonely women were nearly three times more likely to die than women who weren’t lonely, and lonely men were more than twice as likely to die, the researchers found.

Living alone, however, is not necessarily equal to feeling lonely, and it was linked to a lower risk of depression and anxiety than living with others.

But among men, living alone was tied with a 39% greater risk for poor heart health. This may be because men tend not to have an extensive support network after divorce or death of a spouse, compared with women, the researchers noted.

“Loneliness can have many causes and can occur even if you have people around you,” Christensen said.

For some, it would help to have a family member who remembers to ask how they are doing and is ready to listen, she said.

“For others, help with practical things might be what they need, and for some, the opportunity to talk to other patients who have gone through the same thing is helpful,” Christensen said.

She also stressed that the effects of loneliness are not confined to heart disease. “It’s also [detrimental] for individuals who do not suffer from an illness. Loneliness seems to be damaging to your health no matter what,” Christensen said.

The report was published online Nov. 4 in the journal Heart.

https://consumer.healthday.com/cardiovascular-health-information-20/misc-stroke-related-heart-news-360/risks-mount-for-lonely-hearts-after-cardiac-surgery-751879.html

By Jonathan Lambert

If you’re looking for motivation to take up running, perhaps this will help. A new study finds that people who run as little as once a week have a lower risk of early death compared with people who don’t run at all.

In fact, any amount of running was associated with a 27 percent lower risk of premature death. And researchers found no evidence that running more alters that number significantly, according to a new meta-analysis published November 4 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

“This is good news for the many adults who find it hard to find time for exercise,” says Elaine Murtagh, an exercise physiologist at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland, who was not involved in the study. “Any amount of running is better than none.”

While this conclusion might seem obvious to runners, the science has been fairly mixed, says public health researcher Željko Pedišić of Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. “Some studies found a significant benefit of running, but others did not,” he says.

Also unclear was whether the duration or intensity of running mattered. Researchers who study the effects of running think about the activity in terms of doses, as though it were itself a medicine. Pedišić says that while it might make sense that more running would yield greater health benefits, some studies have sparked debate by suggesting that higher levels of running — more than 250 minutes a week — could actually negate any benefits in terms of mortality.

Pedišić and his colleagues tried to make sense of these conflicting findings by pooling and reanalyzing data from previous studies, an approach known as a meta-analysis. They settled on 14 previously published studies, which collectively asked 232,149 participants about their running habits and then tracked their health over a period of time from 5 ½ to 35 years.

Over the course of each study a total of 25,951 participants died, allowing the researchers to look for statistical associations between running and risk of death.

The researchers found that runners, even those who reported running as infrequently as once a month, had a 27 percent reduced risk of death from any cause compared with non-runners. Each study differed slightly in how they defined a runner, making it difficult to say exactly how little running is necessary for a benefit, though Pedišić says taking just a few strides a week is almost certainly not enough.

Still, the lower risk of early death was more or less the same across all running doses, from running no more than once a week for less than 50 minutes to running every day for a weekly total of 250 minutes. “All these doses of running are significantly associated with lower risk of death,” Pedišić says. “There was no significant difference between frequency, duration or pace,”

“Not finding a trend does not mean that the trend does not exist,” Pedišić cautions. A trend could be too small to be detected within the sample size. Studying the health effects of heavy running can be difficult because there aren’t many people who run that much, he says.

While more evidence is needed to determine if there is an upper limit to how much running is beneficial, this study fits with other research finding health benefits for any level of activity, says Angelique Brellenthin, a kinesiologist at Iowa State University in Ames who was not involved in the study, “Any amount of physical activity that you can fit into your schedule is good for you,” she says.

Running just once a week may help you outpace an early death

By Julie Zaugg and Jared Peng

Authorities in China have approved a drug for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, the first new medicine with the potential to treat the cognitive disorder in 17 years.

The seaweed-based drug, called Oligomannate, can be used for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s, according to a statement from China’s drug safety agency. The approval is conditional however, meaning that while it can go on sale during additional clinical trials, it will be strictly monitored and could be withdrawn should any safety issues arise.

In September, the team behind the new drug, led by Geng Meiyu at the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said they were inspired to look into seaweed due to the relatively low incidence of Alzheimer’s among people who consume it regularly.

In a paper in the journal Cell Research, Geng’s team described how a sugar contained within seaweed suppresses certain bacteria contained in the gut which can cause neural degeneration and inflammation of the brain, leading to Alzheimer’s.

This mechanism was confirmed during a clinical trial carried out by Green Valley, a Shanghai-based pharmaceutical company that will be bringing the new drug to market.

Conducted on 818 patients, the trial found that Oligomannate — which is derived from brown algae — can statistically improve cognitive function among people with Alzheimer’s in as little as four weeks, according to a statement from Green Valley.

“These results advance our understanding of the mechanisms that play a role in Alzheimer’s disease and imply that the gut microbiome is a valid target for the development of therapies,” neurologist Philip Scheltens, who advises Green Valley and heads the Alzheimer Center Amsterdam, said in the statement.

Vincent Mok, who heads the neurology division at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the new drug showed “encouraging results” when compared to acetylcholinesterase inhibitors — the existing treatment for mild to severe Alzheimer’s.

“It is just as effective but it has fewer side effects,” he told CNN. “It will also open up new avenues for Alzheimer’s research, focusing on the gut microbiome.”

Since very little is known about the mechanisms of the new drug, Mok said it should also be probed to see if it could have a protective effect and possibly slow down the progression of the disease in patients who have yet to develop strong symptoms of dementia.

The company said Oligomannate will be available in China “very soon,” and it is currently seeking approval to market it abroad, with plans to launch third-phase clinical trials in the US and Europe in early 2020.

Alzheimer’s disease, which starts with memory loss and escalates to severe brain damage, is believed to cause 60% to 70% of the cases of dementia reported worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Dementia affects an estimated 50 million people worldwide, including 9.5 million people in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Named after Alois Alzheimer, the neuropathologist who discovered the disease in 1906, it has so far confounded researchers and pharmaceutical companies.

In October, US pharmaceutical giant Biogen said it would pursue Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for an experimental treatment called aducanumab, after announcing in March it was canceling a large clinical trial for the drug.

Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer and Eli Lilly have all previously abandoned projects to develop a drug for Alzheimer’s after unsatisfactory clinical data.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/03/health/china-alzheimers-drug-intl-hnk-scli/index.html

Our thinking skills in childhood could offer a glimpse into how our minds might work at the age of 70, according to a study spanning decades.

The research started in 1946, when 502 8-year-olds, who were born in the U.K. in the same week, took tests to measure their thinking and memory skills. The participants took cognitive tests again between the ages of 69 and 71.

The participants also had scans, including a positron emission tomography (PET) scan that detects amyloid-beta plaques in the brain. These sticky collections of protein are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, shows those with the highest test scores in childhood were more likely to have high scores later in life. Kids in the top 25 percent had a greater chance of being in that same quartile at 70.

Educational attainment and socioeconomic status also appeared to make a difference. Those who were college-educated scored around 16 percent better in tests than those who left school before they hit 16. Participants who had a white-collar job were able to remember, on average, 12 details from a short story, versus 11 if they had a manual job. Overall, women did better than men when their memory and thinking speed were tested.

Participants who were found to have amyloid-beta plaques in their brains, meanwhile, scored lower on cognitive tests. In one assessment where participants had to find the missing pieces in five geometric shapes, those with the plaque got 23 out of 32 problems correct, versus 25 for those without the plaques.

Dr. Jonathan M. Schott of University College London commented: “Finding these predictors is important because if we can understand what influences an individual’s cognitive performance in later life, we can determine which aspects might be modifiable by education or lifestyle changes like exercise, diet or sleep, which may, in turn, slow the development of cognitive decline.

“Our study found that small differences in thinking and memory associated with amyloid plaques in the brain are detectable in older adults even at an age when those who are destined to develop dementia are still likely to be many years away from having symptoms.”

Earlier this year, Schott and his team published a separate study in the journal The Lancet Neurology that showed having high blood pressure in a person’s mid-30s was linked to higher levels of blood vessel damage in the brain, as well as shrinkage of the organ.

Professor Tara Spires-Jones from the UK Dementia Research Institute at the University of Edinburgh, who did not work on the new study, told Newsweek the findings add to other studies that suggest our genetics, as well as environmental factors, play a role in how we maintain our thinking skills as we age.

“However, this does not mean that all of your brain power during aging is determined during childhood,” she said. “There is good scientific evidence from this study and many others that keeping your brain and body active are likely to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, even as adults.”

Learning, socializing and exercise can all help, she said.

“One way this works is by building new connections between brain cells, called synapses. Synapses are the building blocks of memory, so building up a robust network of synapses, sometimes called ‘brain reserve’ is thought to be the biology behind the finding that more education is associated with a lower risk of dementia and age-related cognitive decline,” explained Spires-Jones.

Spires-Jones suggested amyloid-beta plaques might be linked with lower tests scores in the study because they build up and damage the connections between brain cells, called synapses, impairing brain function.

“Amyloid plaques are also widely thought to initiate a toxic cascade that leads to dementia in Alzheimer’s disease, including the build-up and spread of another pathology called ‘tangles,'” she said.

She said the study was “very strong” but limited because observational studies can’t explain the links that emerge, and the participants were all white so the results might not relate to other populations.

“It will be important in future work to try and understand the biological underpinnings for the associations between childhood intelligence and better cognitive ability during aging,” she said.

https://www.newsweek.com/dementia-aging-study-brains-tests-1468657


Dr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe first encountered Ebola in 1976, before it had been identified. Since then, from his post at the Congo National Institute for Biomedical Research, he has led the global search for a cure.

by EYDER PERALTA

Dr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe says his story starts in 1973. He had just gotten his Ph.D. at the Rega Institute in Belgium. He could have stayed in Europe, but he decided to return to Congo, or what was then known as Zaire, which had only recently attained independence from Belgium.

If he had stayed in Belgium, he says, he would have been doing routine lab work. But in Congo, he would be responsible for the “health of my people.”

“But when I arrived here the conditions of work were not good,” he says. “I had no lab; I had no mice for the experimentation, so it was very difficult to work here.”

Being a microbiologist without mice or a lab was useless, so he took a job as a field epidemiologist. In 1976, he was called to an outbreak of a mysterious disease in central Congo.

Lots of people had died of something that presented like yellow fever, typhoid or malaria. Muyembe arrived to a nearly empty hospital. He says people thought the infection was coming from the hospital, and he found only a mother and her baby.

“I thought that it was malaria or something like this,” he says. “But in the night the baby died, so the hospital was completely empty.”

By morning, as the people of Yambuku heard Muyembe had been sent by the central government in Kinshasa, they started lining up at the hospital hoping he had medicine for them.

“I started to make physical exam,” he says. “But at that time we had no gloves in the whole hospital.”

And, of course, he had to draw blood, but when he removed the syringes, the puncture would gush blood.

“It was the first time for me to see this phenomenon,” he says. “And also my fingers were soiled with blood.”

Muyembe says he washed his hands, but it was really luck that kept him from contracting an infection. He knew immediately this was something he’d never seen before. Some of the Belgian nuns in the village had been vaccinated against yellow fever and typhoid, but this disease was different. It was killing people fast. When he took liver samples with a long needle, the same thing would happen — blood would continue to gush.

He persuaded one of the nuns who had the disease to fly with him to Kinshasa. He took blood samples before she died and sent them to Belgium, where they had an electron microscope to try to identify the culprit. Scientists there and in the United States saw this was a new virus that caused hemorrhagic fever.

They named it Ebola, after a river near the village.

The discovery, says Muyembe, was thanks to a “consortium of research.”

But Google “Who discovered Ebola?” and you get a bunch of names — all of them white Western males. Dr. Jean Jacques Muyembe has been written out of history.

“Yes, but it is …” he pauses. He takes a breath and laughs, looking for the right way to respond.

“Yes. It is not correct,” he says. “It is not correct.”

The man who gets the bulk of the credit for discovering Ebola is Dr. Peter Piot. At the time, he was a young microbiologist at the Institute for Tropical Medicine in Belgium. He was the one to receive the blood samples sent by Muyembe.

He describes his experience in No Time to Lose, a book about his professional life, including his vast work on HIV.

But Ebola was his big break. In the book, he describes how vials of blood had arrived in melting ice, some of them broken.

He describes how the World Health Organization ordered them to give up the samples, to send them to England and eventually the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, which was one of the only labs equipped to handle a deadly virus like Ebola.

He describes how angry that made him and Dr. Stefaan Pattyn, the man running the lab at the time, who died in 2008.

“[Pattyn] claimed that we needed a few more days to ready it for transport,” Piot wrote. “So we kept a few tubes of VERO cells, as well as some of the newborn mice, which were dying. Perhaps it was a stubborn rebellion against the whole Belgian history of constantly being forced to grovel to a greater power. That material was just too valuable, too glorious to let it go.”

Almost simultaneously, scientists at the CDC and Piot looked at the samples under an electron microscope and saw a snakelike filament — huge in comparison to other viruses and very similar to the Marburg virus. The CDC, which kept the world’s reference lab for hemorrhagic viruses, confirmed this was something new. This was Ebola.

The Congo National Institute for Biomedical Research sits in the middle of Kinshasa.

There are ragged couches along the corridors and goats feeding in the courtyard. But this is where the bulk of the science is being done on the second largest Ebola outbreak in history.

Tucked in corners around the building, there are high-tech labs. Scientists in full biohazard suits run Ebola samples through sophisticated machines that spit out DNA sequences. On the bulletin boards outside the offices, scientists have pinned papers published in international journals about the science done right here.

Workers are constantly dragging in boxes of brand-new scientific gear. On this day, almost all of them are stamped with the American flag.

It’s no secret there is resentment among scientists here about what many believe is a marginalization of their work by the West.

Joel Lamika, who runs an Ebola smartphone app at the institute, says many foreign governments want to stamp their flags on the work Congolese have done.

“They want to claim like it’s theirs,” he says. “But it is theft.”

Lamika says perhaps one good thing that has come out of this latest Ebola outbreak is that it is giving the world a chance to rewrite history.

Muyembe, he says, is a national hero. His picture is on a huge banner in front of this institute. During previous Ebola outbreaks, and especially the huge one in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people, the the scientific community used Muyembe as an example of someone who had gotten it right. Under his leadership, Congo had managed to quickly quell nine previous outbreaks.

Maybe this outbreak, he says, will give the world an opportunity to know who Muyembe is.

“It’s time for the world to learn that Ebola was discovered by a Congolese,” he said. “By Dr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe.”

Today, Peter Piot is the director of the prestigious London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He’s friends with Muyembe and expresses nothing but admiration for not only his scientific prowess, but the way he has managed public health emergencies.

But in his book, he mentions Muyembe only in passing, as a bright scientist constantly pressuring Piot for more resources.

When asked if he feels responsible for writing Muyembe out of history, Piot pauses.

“I think that’s a fair comment,” he says. “But my book was not an attempt to write the history of Ebola, but more my personal experience.”

Piot says at the time of that first Ebola outbreak, African scientists were simply excluded. White scientists — with a colonial mentality — parachuted in, took samples, wrote papers that were published in the West and took all of the credit.

But things are changing, he says. Muyembe, for example, is finally starting to get his due. He was recently given a patent for pioneering the first treatment for Ebola and he has received several international awards, including the Royal Society Africa Prize and, just this year, the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize.

“That reflects, I think, the [change in] power relations in global health and science in general,” he said.

During this outbreak, Muyembe has also made a decision many thought unthinkable even a few years ago. He decided that all of the blood samples collected during this Ebola epidemic will stay in Congo. Anyone who wants to study this outbreak will have to come to his institute.

American scientists, who have led the way in studying Ebola, have privately expressed frustrations. But Piot says the decision was obviously made because of how African scientists have been treated. Western scientists, he says, should get over it.

“We have to wake up to two things,” he says. “One, the world has changed. And two, it’s a matter of fairness.”

Muyembe keeps his office ice cold, and when he talks, he nervously drums a pen against his notebook. He’s terribly serious about his work, but he also offers an easy smile as he remembers his work.

The thing that makes him glow is talking about the treatment he developed.

“It is the most important achievement of my life,” he says.

In 1995, during another outbreak, he wondered whether antibodies developed by Ebola survivors could be siphoned from their blood and used to treat new cases. So he injected Ebola patients with the blood of survivors, taking inspiration from a practice used before sophisticated advances in vaccine-making.

“We did eight patients and seven survived,” he says.

The medical establishment wrote him off. He didn’t have a control group, they told him. But Muyembe knew that in this village, Ebola was killing 81% of people. Just this year, however, that science became the foundation of what is now proven to be the first effective treatment against Ebola, saving about 70% of patients.

“But if this idea was accepted by scientists, we [could have] saved a lot of people, a lot of lives,” he says.

You can tell Muyembe is hurt by all this. Ever since he returned to Congo, he has fought for recognition for his country. His whole life, he has dreamed that big science could come out of his home country.

Just as he announced that samples would not leave Congo, he also got a commitment from Japan to build a state-of-the-art research facility right here. Soon, the goats in the courtyard will be gone, replaced by a facility just as good as those in Belgium or in the United States.

At 77, Muyembe says he doesn’t regret coming back to Congo. And, unlike when he returned in 1973, now he has equipment.

“Now I have mice here,” he says, laughing. “I have mice. I have subculture. Now, everything is here.”

His biggest legacy, he says, won’t be that he helped to discover Ebola or a cure for it. It’ll be that if another young Congolese scientist finds himself with an interesting blood sample, he’ll be able to investigate it right here in Congo.

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/11/04/774863495/this-congolese-doctor-discovered-ebola-but-never-got-credit-for-it-until-now?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=c9c91341f8-briefing-dy-am-20191105&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-c9c91341f8-44039353