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IACC Autism Research Plan: Dr. Steven Novella Throws a Tantrum

Posted Nov 13 2009 10:00pm
Steven Novella MD, author of the NEUROLOGICA blog, doesn't like the recent IACC Statement on Autism Research and is throwing a tantrum. In IACC Statement on Autism Research Dr. Novella objects to the inclusion of research into possible links between vaccines and autism. Specifically he objects to language, approved unanimously by the IACC, that:

" calls for studies to determine if there are sub-populations that are more susceptible to environmental exposures such as immune challenges related to naturally occurring infections, vaccines or underlying immune problems."

In Dr. Novella's view this statement represents:

" the infiltration into the autism community of anti-vaccinationists – who have an agenda other than researching autism. In fact, the anti-vaccine movement has been unfortunately successful in branding themselves as autism activists and experts. This decision by the IACC represents the fruits of that infiltration – a distortion of funding for autism research to suit their anti-vaccine agenda. In fact, two members of the IACC – Lyn Redwood and Lee Grossman, were added specifically to represent the anti-vaccine movement in the (probably misguided) hope of placating that group."

It looks, at first reading, as though Dr. Novella has become, in the oft used words of his fellow "science" blogger Dr. David H. Gorski, aka Orac, a conspiracy theorist. Rather than do a full Orac on Dr. Novella though I think it is probably too early to tell just from his initial reaction. It is probably fairer to say, at this time, that Dr. Novella simply did not get what he wanted ... the exclusion of any reference to vaccines in the IACC strategic research plan, and his response is much like what any child who does not get his way might do ... he is lashing out ... he is throwing a tantrum.

Like many people who do not like the result or outcome of a process Dr. Novella is now furious and screams that the process itself was flawed from the outset. The inclusion of ... ugh... public representatives on the IACC is reprehensible to the good Doctor. After all Doctors should never have to listen to their patients right? No longer content to question the ability of public representatives to think about science Dr. Novella now feels that he has the expertise to determine who is, and who is not, a legitimate member of the "autism community".

Apparently it is no solace to Dr. Novella that Dr. Bernadine Healy, former head of the American Red Cross and the NIH, has articulated the premise that the existing vaccine autism studies were not specific enough and did not examine the possible impact of vaccines on vulnerable population subsets. Apparently it is no solace to Dr. Novella that Dr. Healy, as well as former CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding and neurologist Dr. Jon Poling have all stated that autism research should included further vaccine autism research.

Dr. Novella may be on the road to becoming what Dr. Gorski might call a conspiracy theorist but for now only one thing is certain ... the good Doctor does not like the result and he is screaming foul ... after the fact .

The Doctor is throwing a tantrum.


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