Is Autism Speaks Giving Poul Thorsen the Old Tom Sawyer Treatment?
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Indicted Researcher Poul Thorsen: Autism Speaks' Original Trailblazer

RatsBy Kevin Barry

Poul Thorsen, indicted last week (HERE)  by US Attorneys for embezzling tax payers money via the Centers for Disease Control, also received $1 Million in funding through an Autism Speaks grant in 2008 (HERE). Now Autism Speaks is trying to hide their Thorsen affiliation. Why is that?

Families across the country work diligently to raise money for Autism Speaks at over 80 walks per year, despite the knowledge that Autism Speaks' research approach has always been to supplement projects currently underway by the CDC and NIH. This arrangement between Autism Speaks and the CDC/NIH amounts to a supplemental federal tax. However, walkers are willing to contribute, and individuals can light their money on fire by contributing at walks if they want.

In May 2000, one week before the infamous Simpsonwood meeting, Poul Thorsen suggested AS trailblazer blazing a new trail to the CDC - disguising the role of vaccines in the autism epidemic by using data from Denmark.   He made this suggestion to CDC staffer, NAAR/Autism Speaks scientific adviser and (Bernie) Marcus Institute board member Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp. (See email HERE).   The CDC funded the project; NAAR supplemented.

Poul Thorsen crafted the plan to use Denmark vaccination data despite the fact that CDC, Thorsen and the NAAR board all knew that Denmark's vaccine schedule then, and now, is not remotely similar to the US vaccine schedule. The results of the Denmark studies helped the CDC out of a tough spot and over the past decade, Thorsen's studies were utilized by the CDC repeatedly to falsely reassure the American public about the safety of vaccines. CDC certainly owed Thorsen.

In 2002, NAAR, who later merged with Autism Speaks, provided $105,300 to supplement the CDC project (HERE). NAAR walk money helped Thorsen blaze his trail of using data from Denmark to disguise the potential role of vaccines in the autism epidemic.

In 2007/08, when a group including Thorsen applied for the $1 million grant, the Autism Speaks board was absolutely aware of his background.  Thorsen's NAAR benefactors (Dr. Eric London, Alison Singer, Ann Gibbons, Dr. Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom) were all on the Autism Speaks Board of Directors at that time. Thorsen's original CDC promoter and Marcus Institute pal Dr. Yeargin-Allsopp was a scientific adviser to Autism Speaks at that time.

In 2007, Thorsen was awarded an additional $8 million dollar grant HERE by the CDC. Autism Speaks did what they do, and supplemented the CDC grant with an additional $1 million. Again, CDC funded; Autism Speaks supplemented.

With Thorsen's recent indictment (HERE) more walk money appears to have been lit on fire. The Department of Justice is seeking to get the primary US taxpayer money back. Hopefully, Autism Speaks will try to get its supplemental private sector “walk tax” dollars back also.  Simply removing Thorsen's name from the 2008 grant on their website, and pretending it did not happen, may not satisfy their donors.

The trail Thorsen blazed since 2000 has allowsed Autism Speaks to continue supplementing CDC and NIH while all involved continue to neglect honest research into the connection between autism and vaccines.

Meanwhile, while Thorsen's various frauds play out, another child is diagnosed with autism every twelve minutes, every day, all year long.



Autism Speaks?

Media Scholar

A tale of Two researchers?

I don't think Dickens would mind it a bit.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

On one hand, Thorsen, the Danish guy hired to run CDC's pre-fab non-contemporaneous research to publication. The picture is of him sitting by the pool waiting for the jack to flow in.

On the other hand...

•E-mails between Steven Galson, acting director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, and Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, a medical journal that had accepted Graham's Vioxx study, suggest that the agency tried to plant doubts about the credibility of the

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, last week called for a government investigation into whether FDA management may have tried "to discredit an outspoken safety officer who was challenging the FDA's drug-safety policies." In a letter Monday, Grassley, chair of the Senate Finance Committee that heard Graham's testimony, asked Crawford whether he was planning to fire or transfer Graham against his wishes.

Graham says he has many supporters among the agency's rank and file as well as the public. Colleagues gathered in a cafeteria to watch a broadcast of his Senate testimony. When he returned to work the next day, they greeted him with hugs, kisses and pats on the back.

Graham says he has received hundreds of e-mails and telephone calls. Nearly all, he says, are variations on "thank you so much. You're in our prayers. We appreciate what you are doing. This must be so hard on your family."

Graham says he has heard concerns similar to his from counterparts who monitor medical devices and biologics, such as vaccines, but they're reluctant to come forward.
"They are absolutely afraid for their jobs," Graham says. "We've got families to support."

John Stone

But Dadvocate, there is no possible way that it is alright for Autism Speaks to cover their tracks in this way.


T.I.F. Don't think I'm "completely missing the point" in the least when I call for a thorough, methodical, comprehensive review of this researcher's entire body of work.

Birgit Calhoun

It could also be that AS is trying to distance itself from Poul Thorsen. This may be an opportunity to invite AS to become more accepting of a possibility that these Danish studies might be suspect, considering the now obvious conflicts of interest being exposed in the CDC.

Thorsen's Important Fraud


You are completely missing the point. The invoices are not Thorsen's important fraud.

The important fraud which Thorsen is involved in is using Denmark data to exonerate the US vaccine program in the first place. Falsifying invoices and grabbing a million dollars for himself is far less important than leaving millions of infants in harm's way, when knowingly interpreting data incorrectly.

Yeargin-Allsopp, the person who advanced Thorsen's important fraud inside CDC, was a NAAR/Autism Speaks adviser. If CDC's Yeargin-Allsopp, Rice, Schendel had done their jobs 2000-2004, and honestly researched vaccination, children born in those years and thereafter, who regressed after vaccination, might not have. This includes the Wright's grandson. All those who participated in the important fraud should be in jail for unnecessarily prolonging the autism epidemic.

Dadvocate, please read thoroughly. Thorsen co-author Madsen tells CDC's Simpson - before the Denmark study is authorized - that Denmark's registry records an increase in autism cases in 1995 because they added outpatient clinics that year. CDC doesn't care. CDC uses that increase to advance the idea that autism increased in Denmark after removing Thimerosal. CDC knew from Day 1 that the increase was due to different counting methods. This is the CDC, NAAR and Thorsen's important fraud, and Autism Speaks/NAAR participated.

Read the email exchange between Madsen and Simpson:

Dr. Madsen, in his communications with Dr. Diane Simpson two years earlier, actually noted this discrepancy in Danish data in an email exchange:
Dr. Simpson: "Did they [autism rates] increase after 1993??"
Dr. Madsen: "Yes but not very dramatically and there could be more reasons for that. First of all we had a change from ICD8 to ICD10 in 1994 and furthermore our outpatient clinics were registered in our surveillance from 1995."


For review, when did Bob and Suzanne Wright lose or give up control of Autism Speaks ?? Was this by choice or a "soft takeover" of some kind ?

Does the organization still function as they think it should ? Obviously, they do not seem to follow the lead of their daughter.

I would suppose the name "Thorsen" would have to be removed from all the AS "Let's walk in circles & look in the wrong place balloons."


Dadvocate, one of our editors is the daughter of the founders, we do ask. Over breakfast, lunch, dinner - the fact the website has been changed speaks for itself. AS has a big old website and blog to answer anything anytime. This is the same AS that declined to be on Dr. Oz to avoid the vaccine conversation. They don't squirm well in public.

Their PR firms are pretty savvy - what with being the tops in New York and all, while we're just simple folk blogging.... KIM


M.E. - I like that you guys inform readers but think it's important to at least ask for comment (not cajole or browbeat, which is what I think is happening here) prior to publication. If none if forthcoming, by all means have at it. I disagree with your intial point and think a lot of people affiliated AS read and listen to what goes on at AoA and many other sites.

I also recall that there were more than a couple of practioners who used the DAN designation (and funding from susceptible parents) to further hoaxes for personal gain. Not the majority by any means, but bad apples pop up everywhere and people who live in glass houses...

Fraud is the hardest thing to protect any organization against because (on paper or in meetings) everything looks kosher just up to the point where it ain't and the cops come to the door. Madoff's victims can attest to that (especially when auditors sign off). My earlier comments on this site re Thorsen still stand:

"Wherever you fall on this issue, it stands to reason that a serious indictment the alleges theft from a institutional grantor (who obviously has a team of auditors to ferret this stuff out) for personal gain should automatically trigger a serious methodical review of the entire body of work that the alleged led or contributed to. If true, a theft from the CDC represents idiocy to the nth degree (getting caught is inevitable) and implies self destructive, reckless behavior. What we have here are very serious charges of ethical violations on an unbelievably large scale.

Cheaters and thieves don't compartmentalize in my view. They also don't magically start and stop...their behavior is long lived and pervasive. Every single study this guy contributed to should be subject to intense scrutiny and review. The LB/RB crowd may prefer a more convenient "nothing to see here folks, lets move along" but any rational individual off the street and "uninvested" on this issue would likely weigh in otherwise."

Posted by: Dadvocate | April 15, 2011 at 11:23 AM

Managing Editor

Dadvocate, AS doesn't listen to other groups, as you probably know quite well. We can find some good things they do - but many many instances where fund raising trounces both fact and families. They funded Dr. Poulsen and now it's a bit harder to find that on their site. Many in the community are simply pointing out the dots that were once clearly connected and now have a fainter pencil line between them. It's our job at AofA to inform our readers. None of us is trying to cajole, plead or browbeat AS into putting the community first. Thanks.


While I do think it's highly appropriate and strongly encourage Autism Speaks to address the Thorsen issue in detail, the argument presented here strikes me as a big overreach and stretch to connect dots that may or may not be connectable. The concept of a "walk tax" is also one I find nonsensical.

Before one goes "ready, fire, aim" (unfortunately a hallmark of AoA that I'd like to see go away) and lets loose a volley of firebombs at AS, perhaps it's more productive to actually contact AS first and discuss the issues and ask for comment prior to going off on them. Professional reporters do that. Most organizations don't respond well to a public attempt to back them into a corner before addressing issues of common interest.

Deborah Nash



Excellent point, Media Scholar! For an interesting parallel, there's the Illinois Supreme Court case of Wilk vs. AMA, in which the (closed-shop trade union) American Medical Association was found guilty of anti-trust violations in their attempt to monopolize health care options. Unfortunately, the media did squat with the coverage, and Americans heard nothing about their shenanigans, continuing to believe that medical professionals are above reproach.
Time for Autism Speaks to speak very clearly and put away the cut and paste option.

John Stone

So, who took the decision to remove the reference to Thorsen?

Media Scholar

"Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal"

"Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony."

"any person who shall be injured in his business or property by reason of anything forbidden in the antitrust laws may sue therefor in any district court of the United States in the district in which the defendant resides or is found or has an agent, without respect to the amount in controversy, and shall recover threefold the damages by him sustained, and the cost of suit, including a reasonable attorney's fee."

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