PQC: Why did THEY want these two Trailblazing COVID-19 doctors dead? To steal their works? Or to slow down and delay the “cure”? Or to close the lid on an even bigger secret than just the mere “vaccines?” … Think hard Folks! My government dictionary does not have the word “coincidence” at all! Remember, Money is not their concern, since THEY can print as much money as they want from the thin air!
A New Pandemic? Two Trailblazing COVID-19 Researchers Dead in a Month
May 17, 2020 © Photo: REUTERS/Leah Millis
Academia does not really have a reputation for being riddled with violence and sudden unexplained deaths. Yet at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, two young pioneering researchers from the same obscure field of study met with mysterious ends.
Outside of academic circles, Dr. James Taylor and Dr. Bing Liu were relative unknowns. Inside of the scientific community, however, the two had achieved something like rock-star status. And now, within a period of 30 days, both young men are dead at a time when their talents are needed most.
James Taylor, 1979-2020
Let’s first consider the life and work of James Taylor, who passed away on April 2 at the age of 40. Anyone hoping to learn details about the cause of death of this remarkable man will be disappointed; to date, no information has been made available to the public.
“The cause of James’ death is not yet known, and given how overwhelmed the medical profession is in Baltimore, we may never know,” stated the website of Galaxy Project, using the coronavirus as an excuse for not being able to dig deeper into the death of a colleague. “Given how quickly this overtook him it is very unlikely to have been COVID-19.”
Until any additional information is forthcoming with regards to the cause of death, it seems reasonable to ask whether Taylor was involved in any projects or activities that may have made him a potential target of foul play. A cursory look at his Twitter page indicates there were some impassioned discussions just prior to his premature passing that warrant consideration. Before jumping into those discussions, however, a few words about his professional background are necessary.
According to his obituary on the Johns Hopkins University website, Taylor was “a trailblazer in computational biology and genomics research,” who made a significant contribution as a “scientist, teacher, and colleague.”
Taylor’s breakout moment in the scientific community, however, came with the creation of Galaxy, a cloud-based system that has been described as “the first comprehensive data analysis resource in Life Sciences.” According to its website, Galaxy provides an open platform that aims to make computational biology accessible to scientists, mostly those who are involved in genomics research, a major field of study when it comes to the development of drugs and vaccines.
And it is on this particular point that Taylor became engaged in debate just days before his death. On March 19, the researcher asked a seemingly innocuous question on his Twitter page: “Can we talk about genomic data sharing for #covid19 #SARSCoV2 research?”
— James Taylor (@jxtx) March 19, 2020
Judging by the feedback, the question proved to be a loaded one. Taylor’s question revealed the frustration being felt by other research groups, like NCBI and Nextstrain, which were attempting to retrieve the genomic characteristics of Covid-19 but were running into hurdles. Taylor’s colleagues, Anton Nekrutenko and Sergei Kosakovsky Pond, expressed similar concerns regarding those roadblocks one month earlier in a paper entitled, ‘No more business as usual: agile and effective responses to emerging pathogen threats require open data and open analytics.’
“The current state of much of the Wuhan pneumonia virus (COVID-19) research shows a regrettable lack of data sharing and considerable analytical obfuscation,” Nekrutenko and Kosakovsky Pond wrote. “This impedes global research cooperation, which is essential for tackling public health emergencies, and requires unimpeded access to data, analysis tools, and computational infrastructure.”
Here is proof of something that many people have long suspected about the world of academia: it is ruthless and self-serving just as much as any profit-seeking corporation. Not only are academics fiercely protective of their work, which is perfectly understandable, they are also not blind to the potential for financial gain that comes from their labors. But I digress.
— Björn Grüning (@bjoerngruening) March 26, 2020
Judging by his social media activity, it seems that James Taylor’s main beef was with GISAID, a German-based platform that stands for Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data. This private and public organization, which also partners with the governments of Singapore and the United States, has acquired much of the genome data for many diseases, including that of Covid-19, information that would be critical in the development of drugs and vaccines.
In a follow-up tweet, Taylor complained that GISAID “has much more data…but onerous restrictions on data use and sharing, in particular does not allow sharing any sequence data.” This was followed by the comment that GISAID’s restrictions on using its data are “a real impediment to rapid, collaborative data analysis including our efforts to make transparent, reusable and reproducible analysis pipelines for outbreak analysis.”
At the same time Taylor was chastising GISAID for supposedly not sharing its sequence data on Covid-19, GISAID was boasting on its website about its transparency. So where is the truth? Judging by the comments on James Taylor’s Twitter feed, it would seem GISAID was not completely forthcoming with its data.
Dave O’Connor, for example, a virologist at the University of Washington (Madison), remarked on Taylor’s Twitter thread, “I doubt if many people, if any, people who contributed data to GISAID did so with the intention of it being siloed.”
Dr. Melissa A. Wilson, a prominent evolutionary and computational biologist from Arizona State University, also expressed dismay at the failure to share critical genome data that could assist in helping researchers discover a cure for Covid-19.
In her tweet, dated March 23, Wilson directed a question to Taylor, asking: “Where are we storing data so it is accessible?”
US needs this kind of effort. ASU + other institutions have tests, but:
Can collect answers here: https://t.co/P7eAAMNyFd
Will happily amplify other efforts. https://t.co/lfdhACLVw9
— Melissa A. Wilson (@sexchrlab) March 23, 2020
At this point the reader may be asking, ‘Ok, so what. What significance is there to a group of researchers having trouble getting access to the genome structure of the coronavirus?’ The problem is that it could mean the difference between being able to develop a vaccine for the disease and not.
Here it should be mentioned that on October 18, 2019, Johns Hopkins University, together with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, hosted Event 201, a high-level exercise that imagined how the public and private sector would coordinate in the event of a pandemic. The event so closely mirrored the outbreak of Covid-19 just two months later that Johns Hopkins released a statement denying that it had made a “prediction” about the pandemic.
Moreover, on the question of producing vaccines to fight against Covid-19, Johns Hopkins appears to be an ardent supporter.
“I would imagine we are going to get a massive vaccination program going in place,” revealed Andrew Pekosz, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Professor, in an interview with Bloomberg. “The vaccines that are currently in the lead…are ones that are going to be given by injection.
“It looks like vaccines are going to be the game changer here…”
The question that must be asked is whether James Taylor was somehow working at cross-purposes to other organizations that are, for example, in the race to develop a vaccine against Covid-19. Or, alternatively, did the 40-year-old renowned researcher die a natural death at the very moment the quest for a vaccine against the coronavirus had become the central focus for researchers, pharmaceutical companies and his very alma mater?
Dr. Bing Liu, 1982-2020
On May 2, Liu, a 37-year-old assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (UPSM), was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds at his townhouse in an upscale suburban neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Another victim, identified as Hao Gu, was found dead in his car near Liu’s home with what police say was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Just four days after the double murder, Ross Township Police said they believe the apparent murder-suicide was the result of a “lengthy dispute regarding an intimate partner.”
“We have found zero evidence that this tragic event has anything to do with employment at the University of Pittsburgh, any work being conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and the current health crisis affecting the United States and the world,” said Detective Sgt. Brian Kohlhepp.
What makes this case particularly compelling is that, according to a homage page on the UPSM website, “Bing was on the verge of making very significant findings toward understanding the cellular mechanisms that underlie SARS-CoV-2 infection and the cellular basis of the following complications.”
The other remarkable detail is how closely aligned Bing Liu and James Taylor’s academic resumes were. Both academics were involved in the obscure field of computational systems biology, as well as machine-learning techniques to better predict the behavior of biological species.
The lives of the two academics crossed paths due to their mutual affiliation with the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University, also located in Pittsburgh. There, Liu worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the department of computer science, while Taylor delivered seminars there on his Galaxy program. If by chance Taylor was unfamiliar with Liu’s prolific body of academic work that would probably have changed after Liu’s purportedly breakthrough research on the Covid-19 was released. That magical moment was not to be, of course, due to Liu’s premature and very tragic death.
With regards to the purported murder-suicide, the details are sketchy. First, the mainstream media is portraying the murder as the result of a “lengthy dispute regarding an intimate partner.” Yet local media reported that Liu and his wife had no children and mostly kept to themselves. Of course that doesn’t mean that the two men were not competing for the affections of some other woman. However, with the married Liu on the verge of making a major breakthrough on the coronavirus front, it would seem that he would have very little time for any ‘extracurricular activities.’
In any case, it remains unclear how the two men knew each other, while a possible motive for the murder also remains a mystery, the Post-Gazette reported. Neighbors did not report hearing any gunshots at the time of the killings.
Finally, there are problems with the choice of murder weapon, in this case a firearm. Since both Liu and his alleged killer were not U.S. citizens, this opens up the question as to how Hao Gu was able to acquire a firearm. It is illegal – although certainly not impossible – for non-citizens to purchase firearms in the United States.
So what we are left with, at a time when the world is desperately searching for a way to combat Covid-19, is the legacy of two trailblazing researchers who were both working towards ways of better understanding the disease. Although we may never know the true story behind each man’s untimely death, the likelihood of two renowned researchers – with almost identical professional backgrounds – dying a month apart at a time when both were making headway against the pandemic must certainly rank far less than the chances of someone actually succumbing to Covid-19. The deaths of Bing Liu and James Taylor deserve far greater scrutiny by the mainstream media.
US: Researcher on brink of COVID-19 discovery shot dead
Dr Bing Liu was shot dead at his home; his assailant later killed himself Web Desk May 06, 2020 19:21 IST Dr Bing Liu, Research Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh | University of Pittsburgh website
A University of Pittsburgh researcher who was allegedly on the brink of a key finding in his study of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was found dead in an apparent murder-suicide, with his attacker found dead in a car near the crime scene.
Professor Bing Liu, 37, was a research assistant professor who had a bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in Computer Science from the National University of Singapore. He was found dead with gunshot wounds to his head, neck and torso, at his home in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The shooter was found in a car nearby, having apparently killed himself after the crime.
His department posted, “Bing was on the verge of making very significant findings toward understanding the cellular mechanisms that underlie SARS-CoV-2 infection and the cellular basis of the following complications. We will make an effort to complete what he started in an effort to pay homage to his scientific excellence.”
According to the Post Gazette, Ross police did not offer a possible motive for the killing and said that there was no signs of anything being stolen from the professor’s house—but said that the two men knew each other. CNN reported Detective Sgt. Brian Kohlhepp said that there was “zero indication that there was targeting due to his (Liu) being Chinese.”
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the shooter as Hao Gu, 46, also from Pittsburgh.
Professor Liu’s bio on his research page at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine website describes his research summary as “Computational modeling and analysis of the dynamics of biological systems; development of high-performance computing, formal verification, and machine learning techniques for systems biology.”
The University of Pittsburgh also released a statement on Liu’s death. “The University of Pittsburgh is deeply saddened by the tragic death of Bing Liu, a prolific researcher and admired colleague at Pitt. The University extends our deepest sympathies to Liu’s family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time.”
As of Wednesday, the US has over 1.2 million cases of the novel coronavirus and over 72,000 deaths.
Computational Biologist James Taylor Dies
The Johns Hopkins University professor was a co-developer of the Galaxy platform, an open-source bioinformatics tool used in labs around the world.
Apr 7, 2020
ABOVE: © WILL KIRK/JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY, © ISTOCK.COM, ESKEMAR
James Taylor, a computational biologist at Johns Hopkins University who developed a popular open-source bioinformatics platform, died April 2 at the age of 40.
Taylor is known for his work with the Galaxy Project, an open-source tool originally designed to help process data for genomicists.
Taylor earned a computer science degree in 2000 from the University of Vermont, and afterward received his PhD in the field from Penn State University in 2006, during which he helped develop the Galaxy Project. He worked as an associate professor at Emory University for five years, according to a memoriam from Johns Hopkins University. During this time, he continued his work with Galaxy, broadening it to a global scale and writing many papers about the platform that have been cited thousands of times. He left Emory and joined the staff at Johns Hopkins, where he became known for his collaborative spirit.
“He came in 2014, and it was transformational,” Vince Hilser, the chair of the biology department, says in the statement. “He was this catalyst for change, with a huge positive impact.”
Taylor was one of the founders and developers of the Galaxy Project in 2005. The platform allowed scientists to better understand genomic and epigenomic activity across individuals and species without every researcher needing to learn computer programming. Galaxy is now used to analyze bioinformatics data with increased accuracy and reproducibility in many fields, ranging from drug discovery to ecology, and has been used in nearly 9,000 scientific publications, according to its website.
Since the onset of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Taylor used his Twitter accountto speak out on the need for shared genomic data and criticize the lack of proper supplies for those working on the front lines.
Throughout his career he had been involved with the National Institutes of Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute and ENCODE, a member of the National Center for Genome Analysis Scientific Advisory Board, and many others. He also co-chaired the Portal Working Group of the AnVIL Project, another cloud-based bioinformatics tool.
News of his death stunned many in the world of computational biology, spurring friends and colleagues to express their grief on social media and on the Galaxy community hub.
“Such a huge loss. James made huge contributions to open-source, accessibility, and reproducibility. Anyone who runs a bioinformatics tool on the cloud does so thanks to James’s work,” tweeted genomicist Andrew Carroll.
“His life’s pursuit was to understand how genomic information is used in normal development and how changes in the genome can dysregulate this process in disease. Further, through co-leading the Galaxy project and the Anvil project, a major thrust of James’ career has been to support the work of other scientists, especially to empower those with limited resources,” Michael Schatz, an associate professor of computer science and biology at Hopkins, recounts in Taylor’s memoriam.
Hopkins did not have information available about Taylor’s cause of death. He is survived by his wife Meredith Greif, a sociologist who is also a professor at Johns Hopkins.