Lawsuit describes fight between U of M cancer researchers

Masonic Cancer Center

The Star Tribune reports  on a feud between two cancer scientists — University of Minnesota assistant professor Martina Bazzaro and her former junior researcher, Olga Issaenko.

Issaenko has filed a federal lawsuit against both her former boss and the U, saying they failed to give her credit for her research contributions.

The story describes a relationship so dysfunctional it led to a restraining order and a retraction in a science journal.

(Update: Issaenko has written me regarding problems she has with the original Star Tribune story. See her letter at the end.)

According to the Star Tribune:

Issaenko’s job was to help run the experiments and analyze the results, under Bazzaro’s supervision.

But within a few months, Issaenko says in her lawsuit, she started expanding and modifying experiments on her own initiative, with “little to no input” from her boss. She claims that Bazzaro refused to provide computer software and other support she needed to conduct the experiments. As a result, Issaenko says, she started borrowing equipment from other labs or working at home on the research, without Bazzaro’s knowledge.

It went downhill from there.

Here’s the [edited] note I received this afternoon from Issaenko:

Dear Mr. Friedrich,

I read your post and I understand that the StarTribune article is confusing and misleading. But it is apparent that with your post it is now not only being [retweeted] but also being re-twisted.

Just a few examples:

(i)The “junior scientist” type of position requires bachelor degree only; I have a PhD degree; over 15 years of professional experience; and my position at that time was a Scientist; (ii) Your  post claims the lawsuit is about the credit for my research whereas it is an Intellectual Property/copyright infringement lawsuit. … (iii) Your post claims my article in Cell Cycle was retracted; whereas it was not.

Thank you for your consideration of my kind offer to correct the misrepresentations with your post as soon as possible.


Olga A Issaenko, PhD