Andrew Wakefield MD

Wakefield studied medicine at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School (now Imperial College School of Medicine), fully qualifying in 1981. He became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1985. At the University of Toronto from 1986 to 1989, he was part of a team that studied tissue rejection problems with small intestine transplantation, using animal models. He continued his studies of small intestine transplantation under a Wellcome Trust travelling fellowship at University of Toronto in Canada.

Back in the UK, he worked on the liver transplant programme at the Royal Free Hospital in London. In 1995, while conducting research into Crohn’s disease, he was approached by Rosemary Kessick, the parent of an autistic child, who was seeking help with her son’s bowel problems and autism; Kessick ran a group called Allergy Induced Autism. In 1996, Wakefield turned his attention to researching possible connections between the MMR vaccine and autism. At the time of his MMR research study, Wakefield was senior lecturer and honorary consultant in experimental gastroenterology at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine (from 2008 UCL Medical School). He resigned in 2001, by “mutual agreement and was made a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists”, and moved to the US in 2001 or 2004, both dates according to The Times. One report noted he was asked to leave Royal Free Hospital in 2004 after he did not fulfill a request to duplicate the findings in his controversial The Lancet paper.

Wakefield subsequently helped establish and served as the executive director of Thoughtful House Center for Children, a center for the study of autism in Austin, Texas where, according to The Times, he “continued to promote the theory of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, despite admitting it was ‘not proved’.” He resigned from Thoughtful House in February 2010, after the British General Medical Council found that he had been “dishonest and irresponsible” in conducting his earlier autism research in England. The Times reported in May 2010 that he was a medical advisor for Visceral, a UK charity that “researches bowel disease and developmental disorders”.

Wakefield is no longer licensed in the UK as a physician, and is not licensed in the US. He lives in the US where he has a following including celebrity Jenny McCarthy who wrote the foreword for Wakefield’s autobiography, Callous Disregard, and believes her son’s autism is due to vaccines. According to Deer, as of 2011, he lives near Austin with his wife, Carmel, and four children.

Wakefield has set up the nonprofit Strategic Autism Initiative to commission studies into the condition, and is currently listed as a director of a company called Medical Interventions for Autism and another called the Autism Media Channel.
In 2011, Wakefield was at the top of the list of the worst doctors of 2011 in Medscape’s list of “Physicians of the Year: Best and Worst”. In January 2012, TIME Magazine named Wakefield in a list of “Great Science Frauds”.