After being barred from practicing medicine in Britain earlier this week, Andrew Wakefield vowed to continue his research here in the U.S.
The Chicago Tribune reports that he told a “small, cheering crowd” at a rally in Chicago that he will continue to research the link between autism and vaccines.
This worries me, because he was barred from practicing medicine over unethical research practices.
According to the Chicago Tribune:
Wakefield said he plans to start a “virtual university” that will develop collaborations with researchers across the country. His role will be to design research programs and solicit grants to fund studies looking at the causes of autism and other diseases, he said.
I really hope no serious medical researcher will take him up on this. Wakefield was cited for ethics violations by the British Medical Council, and later barred from practicing medicine in Britain.
Not because his research was shoddy. Not because he has spent the past 10 years drumming up anti-vaccine furor based on incorrect and probably faked data showing a purported link between autism and the MMR vaccine. Not even because he was secretly being paid by anti-vaccine lawyers hoping to make a killing in a class-action suit, or had failed to disclose his own personal financial stake in subverting the MMR to make room for a measles-only vaccine he holds the patent on.
Wakefield was barred from practicing medicine because he abused the children he was doing research on. Britain, like the United States, has strict rules about what medical researchers are allowed to ask of their research subjects. Those rules are especially stringent for children.
And Wakefield, in the guise of helping desperate families, violated those rules. He put the autistic children he was experimenting on through far more invasive and rigorous testing than is allowed. This is not a man you want designing your medical research, unless you too wish to lose your right to practice or your position at your university for unethical behavior towards the special-needs children you are studying.