News: Wakefield and Thoughtful House

Some science blogs are reporting today that Andrew Wakefield is leaving Thoughtful House, following this posting on Thoughtful House’s Yahoo! group (login required):

Dr. Wakefield has resigned from Thoughtful House

The needs of the children we serve must always come first. All of us at Thoughtful House are grateful to Dr. Wakefield for the valuable work he has done here. We fully support his decision to leave Thoughtful House in order to make sure that the controversy surrounding the recent findings of the General Medical Council does not interfere with the important work that our dedicated team of clinicians and researchers is doing on behalf of children with autism and their families. All of us at Thoughtful House continue to fight every day for the recovery of children with developmental disorders. We will continue to do our very best to accomplish our mission by combining the most up-to-date treatments and important clinical research that will help to shape the understanding of these conditions that are affecting an ever-increasing number of children worldwide.

As a reminder, Wakefield is the “researcher” who reportedly took advantage of unknowing kids in order to gather blood samples for his “studies”, as discovered in a recent GMC investigation [Sarcasm quotes well-deserved as I can think of few things more heinous in science than taking advantage of "participants" to gather later misrepresented data]. This led to his most famous paper to finally be retracted by The Lancet.

Since this announcement, there were some question marks as to whether the above post was legit, but Thoughtful House has removed Wakefield from its staff list. Also notable is that the Board Members page appears to be down (no one is listed) – Wakefield was a founder and the Executive Director.

However, at this page (which may later be removed/changed) these statements were still available:

And there is still no press release. Obviously this is a very new announcement and fully updating websites can take some time. Of course, we will have to wait for an official press release for the story they intend to publicize.

Not knowing the inner workings of Thoughtful House, I can’t comment beyond my own speculation, but it seems to me that once someone is publicly disgraced in their field as being “dishonest and irresponsible”, their professional associations begin to break down. It’s possible that Thoughtful House has grown tired of the negative publicity surrounding Wakefield and aren’t as enthusiastic about championing him as a martyr as other groups. It’s also possible that he did leave of his own choosing…I wonder if he’ll pursue some individual venture.

Regardless, this is an important message for autism advocacy groups – to be taken seriously, be objective and don’t rely on disgraced “scientists” who engage in ethically questionable activities.

*Updates forthcoming when there is more information. Click the pictures above to embiggen.

Addendum: Thoughtful House has confirmed to the press that Wakefield has left.

The clinic said yesterday that Wakefield had left “voluntarily” to avoid tarnishing it by association. There were suggestions, however, that he had been advised that his position there was untenable.

Also, David Gorski summarizes the events surrounding Wakefield in the last few months, including confirmation of his departure from Thoughtful House. Age of Autism has the spin.

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  • Kim Hebert

    Kim Hébert is an occupational therapist. She is interested in the promotion of science and reason, particularly regarding therapeutic health interventions. She blogs occasionally about occupational therapy and other health topics at Science-Based Therapy. Her hobbies are art and astronomy. **All views expressed by Kim are her personal views alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of current or former employers, associations, or other affiliations. All information is provided for discussion purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for consultation with a licensed and accredited health professional.