A Danish scientist involved in two major studies that debunked any linkage of vaccines to autism is suspected of misappropriating $2 million in U.S. grants at his university in Denmark.
Poul Thorsen, a medical doctor and Ph.D., was an adjunct professor at the Drexel University School of Public Health for several months before resigning Tuesday.
On Jan. 22, Aarhus University said that it had uncovered a “considerable shortfall” in grant money from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a research program that Thorsen had directed. The university referred the matter to police, who are conducting an investigation.
Anti-vaccine groups have seized on the allegations to contend that scientific studies disproving the vaccine link to autism are wrong. Those groups have long argued that thimerosal, a preservative in some vaccines, can cause autism, as can the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella.
Vaccine proponents, the CDC and coauthors of the two studies published in major U.S. medical journals maintain the studies, and the science, remains valid. Full versions of both studies are available online.
Thorsen was the sixth author on a 2002 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that concluded that it had shown “strong evidence against the hypothesis that MMR vaccination causes autism.” Here is the link to that study.
In 2003, Thorsen was the fourth named author on a Pediatrics article that concluded “The discontinuation of thimerosal-containing vaccines in Denmark in 1992 was followed by an increase in the incidence of autism. Our ecological data do not support a correlation between thimerosal-containing vaccines and the incidence of autism.” Here is the link to that study.