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My Conversation with NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins

Posted Jul 01 2012 12:00am

Dr. Francis Collins By Jake Crosby

Below is a video of the Canary Party Press Conference when the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) was on lunch break. In it, I speak ( 16:40 mark ) about a conversation I’d just had with Dr. Francis Collins – the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

If you want to talk to someone who will say whatever is convenient in the moment to deny and defend the autism-vaccine cover up within his federal agency and related organizations, talk to the Obama-appointed NIH director Dr. Francis Collins. At the IACC meeting, during break, I introduced myself and we shook hands.

I then asked him why I was not selected to be on the committee as a person with autism who wants to cure and prevent autism, unlike any of nominees with autism who were selected for the committee. He had no idea.

“I didn't pick the members,” he told me, even though NIH is ultimately tasked with direct oversight of the IACC.

I then brought up my NIH encounter with Paul Offit . I asked Dr. Collins, “You know him?” He responded, “Oh yes, of course.”

I then asked him if he knew Andrew Wakefield .

“Oh yes, I'm afraid everyone knows Andrew Wakefield after the misconduct he's engaged in.” I told Dr. Collins, “He has not engaged in misconduct. Those are the allegations of a journalist with no medical or scientific background – Brian Deer.” “

“His paper was retracted from The Lancet,” Collins replied.

So I said, “There is no reason for his paper to be retracted, not after the senior author John Walker-Smith was exonerated on appeal, debunking the reasons given by the journal for retracting the paper.”

He was expressionless. “So,” he said, “what is your stance on vaccines?”

“I think they cause autism.”

“Oh, you do?”

“Yes,” I told him.

“So you made up your mind. Do you think that's wise?”

I responded, “Do you think it's wise that Marie McCormick of the IOM made up her mind, saying IOM will never come down that autism is a true side-effect of vaccination, in 2001, before looking at any of the data for or against?”

“Well, I don't think she made up her mind.”

“Then why did she say that?”

“I don't know why she said that,” Collins admitted, “but I don't think her comments had much of an impact.”

“Not much of an impact?! She is the chairwoman of the IOM committee which produced the report in 2004 rejecting a causal link between vaccines and autism! The IOM has global influence on scientists worldwide and the IOM is corrupt!”

He responded, “Yes, IOM does have worldwide influence, but I am not convinced IOM is corrupt. Every scientist I've talked to has said it's time to move on.”

I guess he’s never talked to his late predecessor, former director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Bernadine Healy , who actually recruited Collins to NIH while head of the agency. Maybe those scientists he referred to all read the NIH/CDC-sponsored 2004 IOM Report, but not the closed door, leaked comments by committee members like Marie McCormick who came to preconceived conclusions well before the decision.

So I asked him, “If the IOM is corrupt – you don't think they are – but if they are, then won’t that corrupt the whole scientific process?”

“Yes,” he responded, “but IOM is not corrupt.”

Collins just admitted that the views of every scientist he's spoken to were staked on those of a small handful of people who made some disturbing remarks behind closed doors implicating themselves in a vaccine-autism cover up. And Collins had no explanation for these comments. I guess that's why, throughout our talk, he became evasive and uncomfortable, and finally said “I don't think this discussion will end well.”

Going back to my NIH encounter with Paul Offit, I told Dr. Collins what led up to my forced removal from a lecture at his agency. I described how Offit misrepresented Dr. Wakefield by claiming that he announced at a press conference that the MMR vaccine causes autism, and that I pointed out Paul Offit’s misrepresentation of Dr. Wakefield’s statement. I told Dr. Collins that Offit sidestepped my question by claiming that because autism can be caused in the womb by thalidomide, congenital rubella syndrome and valproic acid, that therefore autism cannot be caused after birth. I said to Dr. Collins that when I corrected Offit on making such scientifically unsupported statements, he called me a stalker and I was kicked out of NIH.

When I asked why I was ejected from his agency, Collins replied, “Well, I don't know, but it does not sound like you were very diplomatic in your approach.”

I told Dr. Collins, “No, you can watch the video and see for yourself. It's on the VideoCast dated December 14, 2011.” (In the Canary Party Press Conference Video, I forgot to mention Dr. Collins speculating that I was not very diplomatic in my challenging of Offit at NIH. Yet Dr. Collins did not seem to take issue with the fact that I was called a stalker and forcibly ejected from his agency.)

I already sent Dr. Collins' office a letter shortly after the incident explaining what happened and inquiring about my removal; I received no response. I couldn't even obtain the footage of my removal from NIH that was edited out of the VideoCast because videotapes at NIH are recorded over 30 days after use - so much for FOIA requests.

When we parted ways, Dr. Collins concluded, “There will be a truth – it may not be my truth, it may not be your truth; it will be the truth.”

“Right,” I responded. Of course, no matter what “truth” that is, Dr. Collins' department will be very wrong about something. HHS has quietly compensated many children for vaccine injuries resulting in autism diagnoses since the early 1990s.

I couldn't help but remember the wise words of the late Dr. Bernadine Healy, who made important contributions to drug safety and later spoke out in favor of vaccine-autism research. When asked by CBS News if she was saying public health officials have turned their backs on researching the vaccine-autism connection, Dr. Healy confirmed:

"There is a completely expressed concern that they don't want to pursue a hypothesis because that hypothesis could be damaging to the public health community at large by scaring people.”

No doubt those public health officials to which Dr. Healy was referring include the current director of NIH, Dr. Francis Collins, whom Dr. Healy originally recruited.

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


Posted by Age of Autism at July 31, 2012 at 6:54 AM in Jake Crosby Permalink

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