In the news: Andrew Wakefield

February 27, 2004

Andrew Wakefield is back in the news after being accused of concealing a potential conflict of interest in his 1998 study purporting to link the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism and bowel cancer.

Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet , this week said he would not have published the paper had he known that Dr Wakefield was being paid for a study looking for evidence to support legal action by parents who thought their children had been damaged by the vaccine.

The General Medical Council is considering whether to take action against Dr Wakefield. Dr Wakefield has insisted on an inquiry.

The original controversy surrounding the study has already cost Dr Wakefield his post at the Royal Free Medical School - he resigned in 2001.

Speaking at the time, he said: "I have been asked to go because my research results are unpopular."

The 46-year-old medic was born into the profession - his mother was a GP and his father a neurologist. He studied medicine at St Mary's Hospital Medical School in London then trained in bowel transplantation at Toronto University, Canada, where he worked as a transplant surgeon.

In the late 1980s, he returned to the UK and published studies that, he suggested, showed a link between measles and Crohn's disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease. By the mid-1990s, Dr Wakefield started to consider whether there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism and bowel disease.

His study focused on tests carried out on 12 children referred to the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead for gastrointestinal problems. At the same time, Dr Wakefield was paid to carry out another study to find out if parents who claimed their children were damaged by the MMR vaccine had a case. He insists that the two studies were completely separate.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Professorship in Behavioural Science LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE
Foundation Partnerships Officer LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE

Most Commented

Social media icons

Gabriel Egan laments the narcissistic craving for others’ approval brought on, he says, by the use of social networking websites

James Fryer illustration (8 September 2016)

Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze argues

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Handwritten essay on table

Universities must pay more attention to the difficulties faced by students, says Daniel Dennehy

Theresa May entering 10 Downing Street, London

The prospect of new grammar schools on the horizon raises big questions for HE, writes Nick Hillman