Tag Archives: Translational Neurodegeneration

BioMedCentral Admitted to Scientific Fraud, Cover-Up of Vaccine-Autism Link By Pulling Brian Hooker’s Reanalysis

Maria Kowalczuk, “Research Integrity Manager” for Springer Nature – overseer of BMC

In the below 2016 email to Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)’s Iraxte Puebla, Dr. Maria Kowalczuk revealed that her publisher BioMedCentral committed scientific misconduct. In particular, she stated they deleted Dr. Brian Hooker’s MMR-autism reanalysis because his results implicated vaccines in causing autism. She also fabricated non-existent conflict of interest policies that he “broke.” And finally, she lied that his paper was subjected to post-publication “peer review” when it was summarily retracted after they demanded he conduct multiple studies!

Despite all that, Committee on Publication Ethics would later state that BioMedCentral “acted appropriately.” COPE’s chair is an adviser of the “research integrity” committee that Kowalczuk oversees.

Dear Iratxe,

Thank you for bringing this second complaint to our attention. We have reviewed our handling of this case and related correspondence again and we are of the view that BioMed Central has adhered to COPE Code of Conduct and COPE guidelines. As this complaint has not been brought by the author himself we are limited in what information can be divulged to a third party.

With regard to the specific questions from COPE, we provide a summary of our handling of the case below:

  • The article was received on April 17th 2014 and  published on August 27th 2014 in the journal Translational Neurodegeneration.

The article reanalysed CDC data and claimed to show a positive association between MMR vaccination and the risk of autism in Afro-American boys.

  • A reader flagged that there were undeclared competing interests related to the article: the author, Dr Hooker, was on the Board of Directors for Focus Autism which supports the belief that MMR vaccine causes autism.  We were concerned enough about the allegations and the content to remove it from the public domain immediately because of the potential harm to public health, and posted this message in its place as a temporary measure:

This article has been removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions. The journal and publisher believe that its continued availability may not be in the public interest. Definitive editorial action will be pending further investigation.

The author was informed of this plan before we removed the article.

  • Our investigation concluded that the author did have an undeclared competing interest. We also found that the peer reviewers were also likely to have undeclared competing interests.
  • On August 29th, we removed the above notice,  reinstated the article and published this expression of concern:

The Publisher of this article [1] has serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions because of possible undeclared competing interests of the author and peer reviewers. The matter is undergoing investigation. In the meantime, readers are advised to treat the reported conclusions of this study with caution.

Further action will be taken, if appropriate, once our investigation is complete.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4150057/

The author was informed before we posted this Expression of Concern.

  • We obtained a further, independent expert peer review of the article because we were concerned about the original peer reviewers’ potential competing interests. That further peer reviewer reported concerns about the statistical methods used. We decided to retract the ­­­­­article with this notice on 3rd October 2014:

The Editor and Publisher regretfully retract the article [1] as there were undeclared competing interests on the part of the author which compromised the peer review process. Furthermore, post-publication peer review raised concerns about the validity of the methods and statistical analysis, therefore the Editors no longer have confidence in the soundness of the findings. We apologise to all affected parties for the inconvenience caused.

http://translationalneurodegeneration.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/2047-9158-3-22

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4128611/

The author was given an opportunity to respond to all the concerns raised and was informed before we retracted the article.

Our actions were in accordance with the COPE guidelines.

 

We provide a point by point response to Mr Crosby’s specific points below:

“Publishers should work with journal editors to:

  • Set journal policies appropriately and aim to meet those policies, particularly with respect to:
    – Editorial independence

All the actions were taken in consultation with and with the explicit agreement of the Editor-in-Chief of Translational Neurodegeneration. Editorial independence was not undermined at any stage.

– Research ethics, including confidentiality, consent, and the special requirements for human and animal research

None of the above were raised as issues in the course of the investigation.
– Authorship

No authorship issues were raised in the course of the investigation.
– Transparency and integrity (for example, conflicts of interest, research funding, reporting standards

We took action to ensure integrity of the published record in light of the concerns regarding conflicts of interest and the methods and statistical analysis that came to light after publication of the article. We acted in a transparent way throughout the process.


– Peer review and the role of the editorial team beyond that of the journal editor

External post publication peer review, that involved the editor, was conducted when concerns were raised about the article.
– Appeals and complaints

  • Communicate journal policies (for example, to authors, readers, peer reviewers)
    • Review journal policies periodically, particularly with respect to new recommendations from the COPE
    • Code of Conduct for Editors and the COPE Best Practice Guidelines
    • Maintain the integrity of the academic record”

BioMed Central policies comply with COPE recommendations and are accessible on our website. We regularly review issues that might affect our polices (sometimes in collaboration with COPE) and update our policies as necessary. Our Editors are required to follow our Code of Conduct for Editors and COPE Best Practice Guidelines. BioMed Central has a team dedicated to dealing with research integrity issues and maintaining the integrity of the scientific record.

Please do let us know if you need any further information or clarification.

With best wishes,

Maria

 

Maria Kowalczuk, PhD 
Biology Editor,

Research Integrity Group 

BioMed Central

Floor 6, 236 Gray’s Inn Road
London, WC1X 8HB

+44 20 3192 2000 (tel)               

+44 20 3192 2010 (fax)

E-mail: Maria.Kowalczuk@biomedcentral.com

Brian Hooker Rewards Wakefield For Betraying Whistleblower

shinygoldstar

By Jake Crosby

Andrew Wakefield betrayed the trust of autism parent Dr. Brian Hooker and CDC whistleblower Dr. William Thompson by revealing his identity without his permission, eliminating any chance of widespread media coverage while giving his name away to CDC. Yet in spite of this, Dr. Hooker has apparently allowed Wakefield to be named with him in a formal complaint filed to CDC’s Office of Research Integrity. The complaint is based on the information Dr. Thompson disclosed.

Autism Investigated was first made aware of this debacle on Facebook, where a woman named Candyce Estave asked:

“I learned on Twitter that more news coming on Wednesday, this coming week, about ‪#‎CDCwhistleblower‬??? Anyone care to confirm? Brian Hooker?”

Sure enough, Brian Hooker confirmed in the comments:

“A complaint will be filed against the CDC in the Office of Research Integrity. The complaint is based on the whistleblower information”

Contributor and PR Coordinator for “Team TMR” Michelle Taff Schneider then elaborated:

“A formal complaint has been submitted to the Office of Research Integrity on behalf of Dr. Andrew Wakefield and Dr. Brian Hooker, detailing many of the events and evidence related to the fraudulent DeStefano paper. There is truly a mountain of disturbing, damning proof. The complaint will be made public on Age of Autism this week.”

Then confirming where she heard the news, Michelle Taff Schneider wrote: “Andy spoke of it publicly today at his Autism Education Summit lecture.”

Trying to get confirmation from Dr. Hooker, I wrote:

Brian, is it true you’re rewarding Wakefield for betraying the whistleblower? Please confirm.”

I called Brian Hooker and left a voice message, then got the following text from him about Wakefield:

“He has been cooperating recently regarding the media around the wb”

This is in spite of the fact that Wakefield has been continuously releasing videos with snippets of the whistleblower’s voice from when Brian Hooker recorded him without permission, including one most recently from a few days ago.

The attachment of Wakefield’s name to Dr. Thompson’s whistle-blowing will continue to be a major boost for those looking to discredit the story. A CDC-tied writer for ABC News has already lumped together Wakefield and Hooker by portraying them as dishonest researchers with retracted papers after the publisher BioMed Central and its journal Translational Neurodegeneration wrongly retracted Hooker’s reanalysis of CDC’s MMR study. TIME’s science editor and self-styled “Science Cop” Jeffrey Kluger – who has cozy vaccine ties to Salk’s son among others – posted a 2-minute video that “debunked” the whistleblower and ended with a photo-shopped mugshot of Wakefield.

Rather than enabling Wakefield to further mar the whistleblower story, Dr. Hooker should have condemned Wakefield for releasing the whistleblower’s identity months ago. A condemnation is all the more necessary now with Wakefield raising money for his own documentary to further hijack the whistleblower saga, but Dr. Hooker is now doing the polar opposite.

Should the whistleblower’s case against CDC fail, Brian Hooker’s latest fateful decision to include Wakefield’s name on his complaint may well be the cause.

Jake Crosby is editor of Autism Investigated. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy and a 2013 graduate of The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services with a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. He currently attends the University of Texas School of Public Health where he is studying for a Ph.D. in Epidemiology.

BioMed Central Breaks Policy by Retracting Brian Hooker’s Study

retraction guidelines

By Jake Crosby

Above is a summary of the reasons that justify a possible paper retraction, according to Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)’s retraction guidelines that are also used by BioMed Central (BMC). However, none of the above reasons were even mentioned in BMC journal Translational Neurodegeneration’s below justification for retracting Dr. Brian Hooker’s study, “Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young african american boys: a reanalysis of CDC data”:hookerretraction

 

Clear evidence of unreliability, duplication, plagiarism and unethical research are all valid considerations for retracting a paper, but “concerns” are not according to the very retraction guidelines BMC says it follows. Such considerations do not include “undeclared competing interests” either. Although alerting readers to such non-disclosures may serve as a purpose of a retraction according to COPE, they are not justification for a retraction.

BMC’s retraction of Dr. Hooker’s paper is only the latest of policy breaches by the publisher after it deleted his article from its website in breach of policy on the permanency of articles. Citing a then-pending investigation, BMC refused to comment on that violation when contacted by Autism Investigated. Now with the paper retracted in breach of yet more policies supposedly followed by BMC, the publisher has even more explaining to do.

Jake Crosby is editor of Autism Investigated. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy and a 2013 graduate of The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services with a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. He currently attends the University of Texas School of Public Health where he is studying for a Ph.D. in Epidemiology.

BioMed Central Breached Its Policies By Deleting Brian Hooker’s Study

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By Jake Crosby

Below is the excuse the publisher BioMed Central gave for deleting Dr. Brian Hooker’s study from the medical journal Translational Neurodegeneration:

takedown
But whatever “possible undeclared competing interests” may have been outstanding, they clearly did not warrant taking down the article according to BioMed Central’s own policy for removing articles below. In particular, note the section boxed in red and how it clearly does not apply to Dr. Hooker’s paper at all:
 biomedcentralremoval

There is nothing “unlawful” about “possible undeclared competing interests,” and the excuse for removing Dr. Hooker’s study makes no mention of “threatened legal claims.” BioMed Central breached its own “Permanency of articles” policy by deleting his study, amounting to scientific censorship and casting serious doubt on the objectivity of the publisher’s ongoing investigation of the paper. Moreover, the statement from the CDC whistleblower who coauthored the original study Dr. Hooker reanalyzed the data from lends credence to the validity of his conclusions.

Expanding on these concerns, I wrote the following in email to BioMed Central with the subject title, “Pulling Dr. Hooker’s paper violates your policies”:

Dear BioMed Central,

I am an epidemiologist, graduate student and editor of an autism news website. I am writing because I understand you have removed an article from one of your journals titled “Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young african american boys: a reanalysis of CDC data,” by Dr. Brian Hooker out of concern for the validity of its conclusions because of “possible undeclared competing interests of the author and peer reviewers.” I should say I know Dr. Hooker personally and consider him a colleague and friend, though I am making this inquiry entirely on my own behalf and not on his or anybody else’s.

I have three questions for you concerning your take-down of his paper:

1.) What possible competing interests are there among the author and peer reviewers that have not already been declared and are so serious that they would warrant the deletion of Dr. Hooker’s paper?

2.) Shouldn’t the below admission from a coauthor of the original CDC study from which Dr. Hooker reanalyzed the data be an encouraging indication of his paper’s validity?

“I regret my co-authors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data was collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.”

http://www.morganverkamp.com/august-27-2014-press-release-statement-of-william-w-thompson-ph-d-regarding-the-2004-article-examining-the-possibility-of-a-relationship-between-mmr-vaccine-and-autism/

3.) According to BioMed Central’s “Permanency of articles” policy, even articles that are retracted remain in the public domain: “…the original article remains in the public domain and the subsequent correction or retraction will be widely indexed.”

This paper is not even retracted, despite an erroneous report from TIME Magazine. Yet Dr. Hooker’s paper has already been removed against your publisher’s policy which states:

“The preservation of scientific research is a cornerstone of science and as such we will use our best efforts to ensure that material published by BioMed Central is preserved and remains available for access.”

This is further backed up by the following statement, which very specifically lays out what reasons would justify the deletion of material from the public domain:

“However in the exceptional event that material is considered to infringe certain rights or is defamatory we may have no option but to remove that material from our site and those sites on which we have deposited the material in question.

BioMed Central therefore reserves the right to cease to make available articles that it has been advised are potentially defamatory or that infringe any intellectual property right, or are otherwise unlawful.”

Clearly, the questions about paper’s validity and any subsequent “public interest” did not warrant its deletion. There was nothing potentially defamatory, copyright-infringing or otherwise unlawful about Dr. Hooker’s paper. Regardless of whether non-declaration of possible competing interests by the author or peer reviewers is true, there is nothing that would be “unlawful” about it.

BioMed Central clearly lays out how it handles the removal of such material:

“Where this occurs the article will remain indexed. However in place of the article or header the following will appear:

“BioMed Central regrets that this article is no longer available to avoid threatened legal claims”.”

http://www.biomedcentral.com/about/permanency

This does not apply to Dr. Hooker’s paper at all, and no such statement was made in place of his paper. It is therefore clear that you pulled his paper in breach of your own stated policies.

How can readers trust the objectivity of any subsequent editorial investigation since your reason for pulling the paper is contradicted by your own permanency policy in the first place? That reason hypocritically calls into question the objectivity of the author and peer reviewers, yet your investigation is not being conducted in an objective manner.

Sincerely,

Jake Crosby, MPH
Editor, Autism Investigated
www.autisminvestigated.com

BioMed Central sent me this reply:

Dear Jake,

Thank you for your message. We are not providing further comment until the investigation is concluded.
I will keep your email and let you know when that is.

Best wishes,

Anna

Anna Perman
Media Officer

I then responded:

Dear Anna,

Will you at least explain why his paper should stay down when deleting it in the first place clearly goes against your permanency policy?

Jake

Receiving an automatic reply, I sent a similar email to another BioMed Central employee only to receive an automatic reply from that person as well. As the study remains deleted, the publisher’s subsequent “investigation” of it is clearly anything but objective.

BioMed Central should abide by its own policies, and restore Dr. Hooker’s study to the public domain of Translational Neurodegeneration immediately.

Jake Crosby is editor of Autism Investigated. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy and a 2013 graduate of The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services with a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. He currently attends the University of Texas School of Public Health where he is studying for a Ph.D. in Epidemiology.

CDC WHISTLEBLOWER REVEALS YET MORE RESEARCH FRAUD

Whistleblower

A STUDY BY FOCUS AUTISM FOUNDATION FINDS: CDC WHISTLEBLOWER REVEALS WIDESPREAD MANIPULATION OF SCIENTIFIC DATA AND TOP-DOWN PRESSURE ON CDC SCIENTISTS TO SUPPORT THE FRAUDULENT APPLICATION OF GOVERNMENT POLICIES ON VACCINE SAFETY

Whistleblower Says CDC Knew in 2003 of Higher Autism Rate Among African-American Boys Receiving MMR Shot Earlier Than 36 Months

WATCHUNG, NJ–(Marketwired – August 18, 2014) – A top research scientist working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) played a key role in helping Dr. Brian Hooker of the Focus Autism Foundation uncover data manipulation by the CDC that obscured a higher incidence of autism in African-American boys. The whistleblower came to the attention of Hooker, a PhD in biochemical engineering, after he had made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for original data on the DeStefano et al MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and autism study.

Dr. Hooker’s study, published August 8 in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Translational Neurodegenerationshows that African-American boys receiving their first MMR vaccine before 36 months of age are 3.4 times more likely to develop autism vs. after 36 months.

According to Dr. Hooker, the CDC whistleblower informant — who wishes to remain anonymous — guided him to evidence that a statistically significant relationship between the age the MMR vaccine was first given and autism incidence in African-American boys was hidden by CDC researchers. After data were gathered on 2,583 children living in Atlanta, Georgia who were born between 1986 and 1993, CDC researchers excluded children that did not have a valid State of Georgia birth certificate — reducing the sample size being studied by 41%. Hooker explains that by introducing this arbitrary criteria into the analysis, the cohort size was sharply reduced, eliminating the statistical power of the findings and negating the strong MMR-autism link in African American boys.

Dr. Hooker has worked closely with the CDC whistleblower, and he viewed highly sensitive documents related to the study via Congressional request from U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The CDC documents from Congress and discussions that Hooker had with the whistleblower reveal widespread manipulation of scientific data and top-down pressure on CDC scientists to support fraudulent application of government policies on vaccine safety. Based on raw data used in the 2004 DeStefano et al study obtained under FOIA, Dr. Hooker found that the link between MMR vaccination and autism in African-American boys was obscured by the introduction of irrelevant and unnecessary birth certificate criteria — ostensibly to reduce the size of the study.

The results of the original study first appeared in the journal Pediatrics which receives financial support from vaccine makers via advertising and direct donations, according to a CBS News report. The DeStefano et al study is widely used by the CDC and other public health organizations to dismiss any link between vaccines and autism — a neurological disorder on the rise.

Dr. Hooker stated “The CDC knew about the relationship between the age of first MMR vaccine and autism incidence in African-American boys as early as 2003, but chose to cover it up.” The whistleblower confirmed this.

When asked if there could be any scientific basis for excluding children born outside of Georgia, Hooker responded, “I know of none, and none has been provided by the authors of the DeStefano study.” He added, “The exclusion is reminiscent of tactics historically used to deprive African-Americans of the vote by requiring valid birth certificates.”

Dr. Hooker concluded further study is needed to determine why this specific effect (3.4-fold increase when MMR is administered prior to 36 months) is seen exclusively in African-American males, and determine whether delaying the first MMR vaccination should be advised for this population. A link between the MMR vaccine and autism has been conceded in cases compensated by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

The CDC whistleblower informant, who has worked for the government agency for over a decade, remarked to Dr. Hooker in phone calls: “We’ve missed ten years of research because the CDC is so paralyzed right now by anything related to autism. They’re not doing what they should be doing because they’re afraid to look for things that might be associated.” The whistleblower alleges criminal wrongdoing of his supervisors, and he expressed deep regret about his role in helping the CDC hide data.

According to David Lewis, PhD, former senior-level microbiologist with the U.S. EPA’s Office of Research & Development, skewing scientific data to support government policies is a major problem at federal agencies, including EPA, CDC, and USDA. Lewis, who was terminated by EPA for publishing papers in Nature that questioned the science the agency uses to support certain regulations, believes top-down pressure on federal scientists and researchers working on government-funded projects in academia is jeopardizing public health.

“Working for the government is no different than working for corporations. You either toe the line or find yourself looking for another way to make a living,” Lewis says. “No one would be surprised if Merck published unreliable data supporting the safety of its products. Why would anyone be surprised that the CDC is publishing skewed data to conclude that the vaccines it recommends are safe? We need a better system, where scientists are free to be honest.”

The Focus Autism Foundation is dedicated to providing information to the public that exposes the cause or causes of the autism epidemic and the rise of chronic illness — focusing on the role of vaccinations. Learn more at www.Focusautism.org

Contact information
Jenny Kefauver
Phone: 703-842-7405
703-850-3533
Email: jenny@jkpublicrelationsdc.com

Originally posted on Marketwired