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Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s Lecture at Brandeis – Now Online

Justice Wakefield By Jake Crosby

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 was a triumphant day. Dr. Andrew Wakefield came to Brandeis, and Poul Thorsen – the Danish scientist who coauthored the infamous reports used to cast doubt on the vaccine-autism connection – was indicted on charges of fraud. You can read the details about Thorsen HERE. And the video of Dr. Wakefield’s Brandeis lecture is now available. I don’t want to spoil anything for our readers, except to say that Dr. Wakefield did a great job. (Photo credit Asher Krell for The Justice)

Dr. Andrew Wakefield at Brandeis University from Age of Autism on Vimeo.

Alongside the Brandeis faculty, students and staff who were present, I was happy to see a substantial showing of friends of the autism community from off-campus. Dr. Richard Deth, professor of pharmacology at Northeastern University discussed the higher prevalence of autism among boys when Dr. Wakefield asked him to speak during Q/A. Dr. Deth and autism parent Heather McClennand - also at the lecture - were recently interviewed on Boston’s local FOX TV station.  Alison MacNeil attended the event, and then just five days later was featured in the PBS Series Autism Now, talking about her vaccine-injured son to her father Robert MacNeil. Also in attendance was a local pediatrician who commented on her observation of a higher incidence of autism after the Hep B birth dose was introduced. Fellow Aspergian/Autistic Chloe Ioffe was there as well as autism mom Allison Chapman, two of many who gave Dr. Wakefield a standing ovation. I was happy with the excellent turnout.

It’s been five months since the huge media blitz against Dr. Wakefield. Never before had I seen so many unsubstantiated charges so widely disseminated yet unchallenged. Since then, I have wanted to bring Dr. Wakefield to campus to address the claims against him.

One place where these claims were repeated was a New York Times op-ed from January, authored by Michael Willrich, Associate Professor of History at Brandeis. At first, I didn’t recognize the author’s name – thinking, “They replaced Gardiner Harris, already?” Then I read “Brandeis University” in the bio and it all hit me like a sack of bricks. It was my former professor!

I then had the idea of a Willrich-Wakefield debate, so I called Professor Willrich and left a message asking to meet with him. He wrote me a friendly email in response telling me how nice it was to hear my voice and that he looked forward to catching up. I then brought Professor Willrich’s name up to Andrew Wakefield, who told me he would have no problem debating my former professor if given the chance.

Unfortunately, that was the easy part.

As I was exiting one of my classes, I saw Prof. Willrich and asked him about setting up an appointment. He was very amicable, mentioning that he read my article in last semester’s issue of Brandeis Magazine. I replied that I saw his Op-Ed about Andrew Wakefield in The New York Times. At that point, I realized I had to spill the beans.

 “Would you like to debate him?”

The expression on my former professor’s face immediately changed from happiness to horror.

“Not really,” he replied.

I then told him that Dr. Wakefield will be coming to campus in April and that I was trying to find someone to debate him. I also disclosed my opinions about Dr. Wakefield and how I felt he had been wronged.

Professor Willrich seemed to keep an open ear. He even told me he did not want a debate in the classic sense and preferred to make it more of a panel-type discussion – leaving room for both disagreement as well as common ground between him and Dr. Wakefield.

“I’m not going to be the ‘anti-anti-vaccine guy,’” Prof. Willrich told me. As our conversation was winding down, he said he would think about it, but also told me not to be disappointed if he refused.

Hours later in my email inbox, he gave me his answer.

"… I've given your invitation a good deal of thought. I do not think Andrew Wakefield is a credible researcher, and I have no desire to have a public debate with him on this campus or anywhere else. So I'll have to say no.”

Prof. Willrich would be the first, but not the last professor at Brandeis to turn down a debate with Dr. Wakefield. I asked students from my club SPECTRUM if they knew of any professors who disagreed with Dr. Wakefield and would be willing to debate him. The results were the same – no luck. One student looked shell-shocked as he reported that the professors he approached with the idea “wouldn’t be caught dead with Wakefield.”

It eventually became pretty clear that this was going to be a one-person lecture, with a Q/A session being the closest possible thing to a “debate,” if it was to even happen at all. Some members of SPECTRUM were uneasy about sponsoring Dr. Wakefield without an opponent to debate him, so I asked Age of Autism to sponsor the lecture.

I had no desire to cancel, especially considering the events that unfolded during that semester. The new vaccine industry spokesman Seth Mnookin calling his opponents “total assholes” at American University was one of them.  Brian Deer calling online autism organizations “drunken buffoons” at Ryerson University was another, not to mention the announcement that he would be speaking at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. But autism epidemic doubter Professor Peter Bearman visiting my own college campus sealed it for me, especially since it was the week after he had written a glowing double-book review in The Amerian Prospect for Mnookin and millionaire vaccine industrialist Dr. Offit. It was these events that further motivated me to invite Dr. Andrew Wakefield to campus.

The week before his lecture, I sprained my ankle while rushing to class and had to go to the hospital to get it splinted. For the next couple days I was on crutches while I publicized Dr. Wakefield’s lecture around campus  - posting dozens of flyers for the event. Thankfully, one student helped me - a student who said his parents were positive his sibling’s ASD was caused by vaccines. Since Brandeis would not list the event on its online calendar, I knew a lot of the publicity hinged on handing out flyers person to person. I got a wide range of reactions, from anger that Dr. Wakefield lost his medical license, to anger that he was coming to campus. Most students, however, simply said, “thank you.”

Reactions started to pick up when I began advertising the event online. The day after I started the facebook event, one of the students I invited posted the very next day:

“Andrew Wakefield is coming to Brandeis. Let's protest as awesomely as we can! Join the reddit discussion.” (HERE)

The person who posted this turned out to manage the website for his parents’ PR firm which had pharma clients. So I pointed that out in a comment underneath the link on facebook. No protest ever happened.

 It was not the post itself that was disturbing, but the AskReddit discussion that followed. Graphic talk of punching, biting, stabbing and assaulting Dr. Wakefield with deadly pathogens was rampant - what lovely people the pharmaceutical industry employs! And yet, if such threats took place about Dr. Paul Offit on a public online forum, his supporters – perhaps the very folks who had taken part in the discussion about Dr.Wakefield – would be all over it, throwing one great big pharma pity party. Thankfully, the Brandeis Police maintained a strong presence at Dr. Wakefield’s lecture. Dr. Wakefield told me he’d never had a security problem at any of his speaking events.

For all their online talk, the corporate fringe never managed to translate their venom into much action. The commenters on “Science”Blogs went crazy and the Boston chapter of the local “Skeptics” pharma front group put out an official “alert” that fizzled.

There was one member of “neurodiversity” at the lecture who on his blog, listed his “Competing financial interest: I am working on researching and commercializing products using skin resident commensal autotrophic ammonia oxidizing bacteria to naturally supply basal NO under normal physiological control via sweating to prevent and treat a number of disorders, including ASDs. Patents issued and applied for.”

During the Q/A, he seemed very confused, blending Dr. Wakefield's Lancet paper with a later study that found evidence of vaccine-strain measles in the intestines of children with autism. Commenting on “Science”Blogs afterwards, however, all he reported was:

“I did ask [Andrew Wakefield] why he didn't report Nicholas Chadwick's negative PCR results for measles vaccine virus. He said he reported the positive results from the labs that got positive results.”

I was there, and Dr. Wakefield also said he reported the negative samples – even though they were based on findings using obsolete and insensitive technology. You can watch the video and see for yourself.

Yet the distortions didn’t end there. A commenter responding online took it to yet another new level:

“To anyone but the faithful he just said "Yes, I did commit fraud."

I truly laughed when I read that. Wow, this is just one example of how the collective thinking at “Science”Blogs and other pharma front blogs operates. 

Even more amusing, however, was the apparent conflict that existed among vaccine industry defenders in relation to this event: on the one hand saying that Andrew Wakefield should not speak unchallenged, and on the other hand, refusing to debate him and even saying he should not be able to speak at all. There was also an online effort to try to get Brandeis to cancel Dr. Wakefield's talk.

In addition to balanced articles in student newspapers The Brandeis Hoot and The Justice, The Hoot also ran an editorial criticizing the event for Dr. Wakefield speaking unchallenged. When I submitted my letter to the editor explaining why, (HERE) ; the newspaper – despite its efforts – was unable to find a professor to contribute a counterpoint piece.

And yet, those who did challenge Dr. Wakefield in the Q/A trotted out the same old baseless allegations against him – like the poor, confused fellow described prior – only to see their claims torn to shreds. Perhaps that’s why they turned to bashing the event in publications after the event was over – yet they could not even succeed at that. Dr. Amy Tuteur – another member of the “Skeptics” pharma front franchise of Boston attempted to do just that in a blog post for The Boston Globe, and got destroyed by her own commenters. It was very entertaining to see.

All told, I think my event was effective not only at giving Dr. Wakefield a much-needed and deserved forum to address the allegations against him and to talk about the science, but also to expose the dilemma pharma is in, led by Dr. Paul Offit whose official position is to refuse to debate Dr. Wakefield. When it chooses to censor, it ultimately looks terrible while only further motivating people like myself to express our views. Yet when it chooses to engage in a debate head-on, it gets thoroughly debunked. I guess that would explain why it has preferred the former over the latter.

I would like to thank all those people who made Dr. Wakefield’s lecture a success. Brandeis Conference and Events was great at helping me plan for and set up this event. The Brandeis Police Force provided extra security. The Goldfarb Library permitted use of Rapaporte Treasure Hall. I would like to thank the administration for making Brandeis the kind of place where Dr. Wakefield was able to speak, despite the intense controversy surrounding him. Everyone who attended that night also deserves a huge thank you as does Age of Autism for sponsoring the event. And finally, the biggest thank you goes to Dr. Andrew Wakefield.

Jake Crosby has Asperger Syndrome and is a contributing editor to Age of Autism. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy. In August, he will attend The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he will study for an MPH in epidemiology.




Starting at 1:21:40 an audience member asks Dr. Wakefield about 400,000 pounds (not dollars) he earned as a consultant over a nine year period. This 400,000 was "revealed" with a flourish in 2006 by Brian Deer. Wakefield states that all of the money was donated to an initiative to build a wing at the Royal Free for the care and investigation of bowel disease.

Does Deer mention anywhere in his writings or interviews that Wakefield didn't retain this money? Not that I can find. In fact, Deer said the following in an interview to CBC in 2011: “I think he did it for the money. He ended up pocketing a huge amount of money.” OK, so five years after 2006 Deer says that Wakefield is in fact lying about donating the 400,000...except that I can't find any explicit statement by Deer to this effect. It wouldn't be hard for Deer to check what happened to the money. Even if in 2006 he didn't know where it had gone, he would certainly know by 2011. The Royal Free kept records, I'm pretty sure. And if Deer had caught Wakefield in such a lie, Deer would trumpet it from the hilltops. So I think it's safe to assume that Wakefield is telling the truth. And that means that Deer is lying.


Bravo! Well presented, clear, precise, easy to understand! Keep up the brilliant work Age of Autism and Dr Andrew Wakefield

Jake Crosby

I agree, Carol.

In fact, it was Brian Deer who took credit for the inclusion of Chadwick's testimony to vaccine court:


Re: Dr. Chadwick's declaration and his testimony in Cedillo. It's unlikely that Chadwick wrote his declaration. No doubt he signed a statement prepared by others. Possibly he didn't read it closely. The declaration says:

"I [Chadwick] specifically asked Dr Wakefield not to include me on the list of authors of the Lancet paper because I was not comfortable with the fact that we had found lots of negative results for measles virus in tissues from the autistic children."

Fair enough. But in his court testimony, Chadwick does *not* say that he asked to be excluded from the Lancet paper's author list. He says that his name wasn't on the Lancet paper because his PCR data wasn't included in it. (For the record, nobody else's PCR data was included either.) The exchange with Ms. Patton, attorney for HHS, follows:

"Ms. Patton: Why isn't your name on the [Lancet] paper I just referenced?

Chadwick: Well, my name isn't on that because none of my data went into that paper. There was a manuscript which did use some data from Dr. Kawashima's lab, and I asked for my name to be taken off anything that was related to PCR data because I wasn't comfortable with the data.

Ms. Patton: You specifically asked that your name not be on that paper because of your reservations about the data?

Chadwick: Yes, that's right."

Now Chadwick might not have thought it was his job say, "Which paper are you talking about now?" Ms. Patton might have gotten an answer she didn't expect about the Lancet paper and simply decided to let confusion reign. Or perhaps she already knew the answer she was going to get. In any case, she stopped asking questions and sat down.

There is another possibility: that the courtroom exchange was crafted beforehand to mislead without being overtly perjurious.

Chadwick's declaration:

Chadwick's testimony in Cedillo:

Jake Crosby

No problem, perfectly understandable.

Where Kawashima cites Chadwick, it acknowledges that there have been previous attempts, including those by some of the authors (presumably Wakefield and Kawashima) that previous attempts at detecting measles virus were not successful. Apparently, the contamination Chadwick was referring to was in his own paper, not in a paper that came after it.


Sorry, Jake. I know it's "Kawashima." I was posting late at night.

But that paper you mention does refer to earlier negative results obtained by Chadwick and the footnote for that comment points to a paper by Chadwick, co-authored with Wakefield, about their failure to find measles RNA in IBD tissue.

Jake Crosby


His name is Dr. Kawashima. I think you've got him confused with the condition that afflicted John Travolta's late son, who also turned out to have autism.

The only published paper with Dr. Kawashima that makes any claim for measles virus in autistic children was not published in the Lancet, but a journal called Digestive diseases and sciences. It received this paper in December 1998, many months after Chadwick left the Royal Free Hospital. The paper's coauthors are exclusively Japanese - apart from Dr. Wakefield. It seems doubtful that this was the data Kawashima obtained that Chadwick dubbed "contamination," especially since he did not even mention this paper at all in his omnibus testimony.


Chadwick, as is crystal clear from his declaration, was not the only researcher looking for measles virus in these autistic children. Chadwick and Dr. Kawasaki got conflicting results using the same methods. Chadwick maintained that Kawasaki's positive findings were the result of contamination. But as his declaration also makes clear in paragraph 12, Chadwick had had his own problems with contamination. For whatever reasons, it appears that Wakefield was not completely confident in Chadwick.

As one became available, Wakefield used a better procedure to resolve the issue. Wouldn't you?

Jake Crosby

"Your first sentence is my understanding too. We agree."

Except that Wakefield did not just say there were no reports of measles virus in the Lancet paper - he also said that the negative data that was obtained by Chadwick was also published.

By that time, more sensitive techniques had come out and further virological investigations were carried out that confirmed the presence of vaccine-strain measles virus in autistic children. So the line in the Lancet paper that says virological tests are being undertaken to resolve the issue of measles virus is accurate.


Your first sentence is my understanding too. We agree.

But I thought that the
first Lancet paper did not hold all the answers, it was not suppose to, was it???
Only that a new, different inflammed bowel disease was there, and it seemed to be occurring after MMR shots were given and the paper was addressing that MMR may be the blame.

You said next that "However at that stage it is crystal clear from Chadwick's deposition that all the biopsy samples from the autistic children were negative for measles nucleic acid and Dr. Wakefield knew it."

So? So what?

So what if he did?

He was not suppose to report a new type of bowel disease?

He was not suppose to say that a precious, God given vaccine was even mentioned as might be the cause?

He did not know if it was a live measle virus at the time, or serum sickness, or what; only that an inflammed bowel disease did exist and MMR had been suspected .

In 1983 my daughter came down with Kawasakis (a whole month and a half after her fourth DPT shot) Yes, it was the DPT shot because using Dr. Wakefield's word she and her brother were rechangelled enough for dumb me to get it! I was told of research surveys, and given research papers at the time that said Kawasakis occurred after parents had their carpets cleaned. Something in carpets, or carpet cleaners was suspected to cause Kawasakis. They said this study came out of Oregan, and the doctors said it with a straight, serious face!!!!

So no virus by Chadwick was found at the time, and he should not have published? Remember the carpet cleaner and Kawaskis!


Jake Crosby

"Benedetta at 1:20 Wakefield addresses the Chadwick issue and dismisses this as basically 'in the Lancet paper we were only reporting on the histopathology & the coincidence with MMR vaccination"

No, Wakefield also said he published the negative data, even though the person asking him got it wrong and said the Lancet paper made claims of detecting measles virus when in fact no such claims had been made.

And the quote from The Lancet paper...

"We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described. Virological studies are underway that may help to resolve this issue." accurate:


Benedetta at 1:20 Wakefield addresses the Chadwick issue and dismisses this as basically "in the Lancet paper we were only reporting on the histopathology & the coincidence with MMR vaccination"
However at that stage it is crystal clear from Chadwick's deposition that all the biopsy samples from the autistic children were negative for measles nucleic acid (& rubella & mumps) and that Wakefield knew of these data,
In the Lancet paper he states "We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described. Virological studies are underway that may help to resolve this issue."
No they'd finished & they were negative, his subsequent outbursts at the press conference launching his paper were also made in the full knowledge that Chadwick had been producing consistently negative data.

Is that scientific honesty, just overlooking inconvenient facts?

Theodore Van Oosbree

Academic drones vs. Wakefield? First round knockout!


Chadwick's declaration discusses at some length discrepancies between his negative results looking for measles virus in PBMC samples and Dr. Kawashima's positive results:

Wakefield's collaboration with Kawashima resulted in the paper "Detection and Sequencing of Measles Virus from Peripheral Mononuclear Cells from Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Autism,"

The text of that paper discusses failures to find measles virus in Crohn's patients and the Chadwick et al. paper, "Measles virus RNA is not detected in inflammatory bowel disease using hybrid capture and reverse transcription followed by the polymerase chain reaction," is included in the references.


Well, I think I see why some might be confused about Chadwick and the Lancet paper. In his declaration Chadwick says this:

"I specifically asked Dr Wakefield not to include me on the list of authors of the Lancet paper because I was not comfortable with the fact that we had found lots of negative results for measles virus in tissues from the autistic children."

But here's his testimony in the Cedillo case:

"Ms. Patton: Why isn't your name [Chadwick] on the [Lancet] paper I just referenced?

Chadwick: Well, my name isn't on that because none of my data went into that paper. There was a manuscript which did use some data from Dr. Kawashima's lab, and I asked for my name to be taken off anything that was related to PCR data because I wasn't comfortable with the data.

Ms. Patton: You specifically asked that your name not be on that paper because of your reservations about the data?

Chadwick: Yes, that's right."

The lawyer for HHS and Chadwick are conflating two papers here.

Jenny Allan

Thanks Jake-You are a star!!

Dan E. Burns -

Jake, when I asked Dr. Wakefield how it went at Brandeis, the "A+" look on his face told me all I needed to know. Thank you, thank you, keep it up.


With all the accusations against him, you'd think it would be so easy for them to debate Dr. Wakefield. But they can't and don't since they know the accusations are bullshit and it's political. Jake, you have a special kind of bravery.


Unfortunally I am not a good communicator - I meant negative "virus"


I wish I could have been there, but I did watch the video twice.
Dr. Wakefield is quite the communicator!
But he explained the negative reports of measle vaccines very - very well - could you not understand?

Cynthia S.

What a great job you did Jake.

I would love to see the debate brought to Michael Spector's comments on his talk.

kathy blanco

Can plunder be taken from warriors,
or captives be rescued from the fierce[c]?

25 But this is what the LORD says:

“Yes, captives will be taken from warriors,
and plunder retrieved from the fierce;
I will contend with those who contend with you,
and your children I will save.



Thanks Jake!


John Stone

Just to say, I intend to publish more on the O'Leary findings next week.


Here's an O'Leary paper, Wakefield one of the co-authors: "Potential viral pathogenic mechanism for new variant inflammatory bowel disease"

"Aims: A new form of inflammatory bowel disease (ileocolonic lymphonodular hyperplasia) has been described in a cohort of children with developmental disorder. This study investigates the presence of persistent measles virus in the intestinal tissue of these patients (new variant inflammatory bowel disease) and a series of controls by molecular analysis.

Methods: Formalin fixed, paraffin wax embedded and fresh frozen biopsies from the terminal ileum were examined from affected children and histological normal controls. The measles virus Fusion (F)and Haemagglutinin (H) genes were detected by TaqMan reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and the Nucleocapsid (N) gene by RT in situ PCR. Localisation of the mRNA signal was performed using a specific follicular dendritic cell antibody.

Results: Seventy five of 91 patients with a histologically confirmed diagnosis of ileal lymphonodular hyperplasia and enterocolitis were positive for measles virus in their intestinal tissue compared with five of 70 control patients. Measles virus was identified within the ollicular dendritic cells and some lymphocytes in foci of reactive follicular hyperplasia. The copy number of measles virus ranged from one to 300 000 copies/ng total RNA.

Conclusions: The data confirm an association between the presence of measles virus and gut pathology in children with developmental disorder."


Loved the article!
The professors know that You don't do this to a good man and not have a lot of people pointing fingers back at you sooner or later.

Your professor Willrich is a coward, he could not tell you face to face the lie he fed you over the internet, of why he would not debate Dr. Wakefield.

John Stone


As you know, and we have been here before Bustin admitted under pressure at the Cedillo hearing that O'Leary results for high copy numbers were likely reliable:

2045a line 7 to 2047 line 8, 2053a line 25 to 2057a line 12

Other evidence at the hearing was that results were repeated in other labs.



May I suggest you view Dr. Wakefield's interview with Dr. Joe Mercola over at Youtube? You'll get the answers you've asked Jake and will have a much better understanding behind this controversy, if you take the time to view the video.

Jake Crosby


Chadwick used a PCR technique that could only detect measles virus down to 10,000 measles copies. John O'Leary, the Irish professor who Dr. Wakefield talked about in the video, used a much more sensitive form of PCR that could detect down to 2 measles copies. Obviously, the latter is thousands of times more sensitive and specific than the former.

The paper you are referring to in The Lancet never contained any results pertaining to measles virus or gene; you are talking about the wrong paper.


"I was there, and Dr. Wakefield also said he reported the negative samples – even though they were based on findings using obsolete and insensitive technology. You can watch the video and see for yourself."

If that's what he said you and he are wrong Jake, Chadwick's negative results were using the far more specific and sensitive PCR technique, the original (false)positive results obtained by Wakefield were using a far less specific and less sensitive immuno-staining technique. If what you've written is a correct transcript then AW is not telling the truth Wakefield and Chadwick had previously published validating the superior PCR method, a question for you Jake why did Dr Chadwick the bench scientist in Wakefields paper ask for his name to be withdrawn before the original publication?


At 52:23, Dr. Wakefield talks about the Honda, Shimizu, Rutter study "No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study." Unfortunately, the graph doesn't show up well. The graph is more visible during this talk at the Boulder Public library (starting at 35:40):

Alternatively, you can just open the study and look at the graph on page 5:

Trevor de Koekkoek

Jake, We really appreciate your efforts at putting this event together and for following up in refuting the nonsense in the various rags. I wish I still lived in the Boston area. Would love to have been there, though I was fortunate to have met Dr. Wakefield at a book signing in Atlanta.

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