Science & Chill

Episode 24: Image Duplication, Scientific Integrity, and the Microbiome with Dr. Elisabeth Bik

January 24, 2021

In this episode of the Science & Chill podcast, I speak with Dr. Elisabeth Bik.

Dr. Bik is a microbiome scientist and science integrity advocate. She received her PhD from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Her scientific work has included time at the Dutch National Institute for Health and the Stanford University School of Medicine. She is the creator of Microbiome Digest, a blog where she posts almost daily papers published in the area of the microbiome. She has also held roles as a science editor and scientific and editorial director at uBiome, and director of science at Astarte medical.

Currently, Dr. Bik is devoting her work to being a full-time Microbiome and Science Integrity consultant. Her work has been featured in major news publications including Nature, the New York Times, the Washington post, Le Monde, The Scientist, and more. She often shares her detective work on social media with the hashtag #ImageForensics, and she has nearly 85,000 Twitter followers.

In this episode, we talk about the microbiome -- what what the microbiome is, the functions of the microbiome in human physiology, how the microbiome might be responsible for obesity and other modern-day diseases, and how diet, lifestyle, and our environment influence the microbiome. 

The majority of our conversation surrounds her main role as a "science integrity consultant." Dr. Bik regards herself as a "scientific sleuth" in the area of image duplication, where she uses her own two eyes to spot potentially fraudulent or duplicated imaged within scientific papers. Her investigations have led to published papers and the reporting of her findings to major scientific journals, resulting in the correction and/or retraction of several papers.

The work Dr. Bik does is important and I believe, somewhat underappreciated. What she's doing really is impactful and integral to upholding the integrity of science and keeping the "checks and balances" of scientific publishing in tact.

I hope you enjoy this episode!


Relevant links

- Microbiome Digest blog

- Science Integrity Digest blog

- Short blog post by Dr. Bik on the microbiome

- Follow Dr. Bik on Twitter (@MicrobiomDigest)

- Dr. Bik's 2016 paper: The Prevalence of Inappropriate Image Duplication in Biomedical Research Publications

- Nature article on Dr. Bik's work

- The Scientist article on Dr. Bik: "Eye for Manipulation: A Profile of Elisabeth Bik"

- Support Dr. Bik on Patreon


Podcast links

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- Follow me on Twitter (@B_holmer) and (@ScienceChill)


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