A website focused on flu vaccines, citing Danish news accounts and a statement from an official of Aarhus University, is reporting that "A Danish scientist who was the author of a key study that undermined the scientific basis for believing that mercury in vaccines caused autism was employed full time by Emory University in the USA without his university knowing, it has emerged. ... Aarhaus University said in a statement today that they had "expressly prohibited" Dr Poul Thorsen from working for a second university, Emory. ... The revelation that Thorsen had a second secret job will raise fears of a hidden bias in the studies and undermine the scientific case for thiomersal." (HERE)
Poul Thorsen was a co-author on two influential papers on the link between autism and vaccines, one on MMR published in 2002 by the New England Journal of Medicine and another published in 2003 by Pediatrics on thimerosal. SafeMinds performed an extensive analysis (see HERE) of the close network of collaboration the included Aarhus University researchers, employees of the Staten Serum Institut (a vaccine manufacturer) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Thorsen was a central figure in that network, with close ties to CDC (Thorsen is 4th from left in photo, click to enlarge), and now stands accused of forgery and fraud. According to a statement from Aarhus University (see HERE for full text):
“The Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation (DASTI) has been a grant recipient as part of a cooperative agreement with the US National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, CDC, since 2001. The grant has been administered by Odense University Hospital and Aarhus University (AU) under the direction of Dr. Poul Thorsen. The grant has multiple components and involves collaborators at other institutions in Denmark, including the University of Copenhagen and SSI (Statens Serum Institut). This successful collaboration has resulted in numerous valuable scientific results, and many more are forthcoming.
“Unfortunately, a considerable shortfall in funding at Aarhus University associated with the CDC grant was discovered. In investigating the shortfalls associated with the grant, DASTI and Aarhus University became aware of two alleged CDC funding documents as well as a letter regarding funding commitments allegedly written by Randolph B. Williams of CDC's Procurement Grants Office which was used to secure advances from Aarhus University. Upon investigation by CDC, a suspicion arose that the documents are forgeries.”
According to the university, “a police investigation is ongoing.”
Thorsen made important contributions to some of the most influential studies that have been claimed as evidence for no link between autism and vaccines. The Pediatrics paper is one of five major epidemiology studies cited by the Institute of Medicine in their 2004 report on thimerosal and autism. Based on these studies, three of which included the Aarhus team, the IOM concluded that “the evidence now favors rejection of a relationship between thimerosal and autism.”
Stay tuned for updates on this story as more details emerge.
Dan Olmsted is Editor and Mark Blaxill is Editor-At-Large for Age of Autism.