Last Sunday, I sent a letter expressing my concerns about Kate Kelland’s recent article to the appropriate person–the Reuters global editor for ethics and standards. After considering the issues, Reuters has decided to add my current academic title to the post and leave everything else as is. I appreciate the first decision and obviously disagree strongly with the second.
I note that the story still refers to me, for some reason, as a “former journalist.” This is false. I am both a currently working journalist and a public health investigator. For some reason, Reuters has determined it is impossible to be both.
I might have more to say about this going forward. For now, I’m posting the letter I sent. (In the actual e-mail, I linked to everything; I didn’t bother to do that here.)
As of this post, I have achieved 57% of my goal, with 542 donations and 15 days left to go. I think that’s pretty good! I’m optimistic about getting reasonably close to the amount I’m trying to raise. Folks at Berkeley certainly notice the success of my crowdfunding. It is an unusual way for academics to support their positions, but from the university’s perspective I’m doing what academics are supposed to do—bring in money.
In 1998, a British doctor named Andrew Wakefield published a paper in the British journal The Lancet. In this paper, Wakefield implied that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine may cause developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The paper received wide publicity, and subsequently, MMR vaccination rates began to decline, triggering the current anti-vaccine movement and the re-emergence of previously controlled diseases.
Last month I wrote to the director of legal services at the University of Bristol seeking information about documents from a study conducted by investigators from the institution. The study, published by BMJ Open in 2011, was called “Unidentified Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is a major cause of school absence: surveillance outcomes from school-based clinics.”
More than a year ago, I had sought consent forms and other documents from Bristol through a freedom of information request. In response, Bristol noted that this was a “pilot clinical service” and “a clinical project” and that the university held none of the study documents. Yet the specialist service for pediatric CFS/ME in Bath, the medical unit that ran the “clinical project,” also informed me that it did not hold the documents and suggested I needed to contact the university.
As I figured, the crowdfunding slowed down dramatically last week after the initial rush, but in the last few days has experienced a bit of a lift. I’ve now topped $42,300 and have reached 44% of the goal. That’s pretty amazing!
Many of the 420 donations are in the $10 to $20 range, but I’ve received one for $2500–the largest so far. I’ve also gotten two $2000 donations and a few for $1000 to $1500. The UK remains ahead in numbers of donors with 171, followed by the US with 76, Norway with 43, Australia with 35, Sweden with 18, Canada with 17 and the Netherlands with 14.
Vincent travels to Microbiotix, Inc, a biopharmaceutical company in Worcester, MA to speak with four members of the company about their discovery and development of small molecule drugs that target serious infectious diseases.
The decision by the US government to allow the resumption of experiments on aerosol transmission of avian influenza viruses has once again raised the hackles of some individuals who feel that the work is too risky. I disagree with their view on this work.
Science reports that ‘Controversial lab studies that modify bird flu viruses in ways that could make them more risky to humans will soon resume after being on hold for more than 4 years’. Denise Grady of the New York Times wrote that “Research that could make flu viruses more dangerous” are set to resume. Note that the experiments done in the Kawaoka and Fouchier laboratories that allow aersol transmission of avian H5N1 viruses among ferrets discussed here previously actually made the viruses much less pathogenic. This fact is ignored in all the discourse about the work. [continue reading…]
The PACE trial and other unacceptable studies from the CBT/GET ideological brigades have had an enormous impact around the world. Luckily, in the US at least, momentum seems to have finally shifted away from this bogus treatment paradigm. The shift, while welcome and long overdue, does not automatically mean more effective treatments are immediately at hand. The field’s obsession with psycho-behavioral models has held back biomedical research for decades, and patients have borne the harms of these misplaced pursuits.
So it’s been a year since the last crowdfunding campaign for Trial By Error–my investigative reporting and public health project. While Trial By Error began 3+ years ago as an in-depth look at the PACE trial, it has expanded to include other research from the GET/CBT ideological brigades and some of the controversies around the illness or cluster of illnesses known variously as ME, CFS, ME/CFS, and CFS/ME.