The Vaccine-Autism Link Controversy: A Science Journalism Case Study
THE VACCINE-AUTISM LINK CONTROVERSY:
A SCIENCE JOURNALISM CASE STUDY
with Brian Deer, investigative journalist with The Sunday Times
panel discussion moderated by Daily Planet host Jay Ingram
featuring Penny Park, executive director of Science Media Centre Canada
Dr. Matthew Stanbrook, UHN staff respirologist and a deputy editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal
Dr. Miriam Shuchman, chair of the Research Ethics Board at Women's College Hospital
Tuesday, February 15, 6:30 p.m.
Innis Town Hall, Toronto
Photos: Daniel Ho
Brian Deer spent seven years investigating research that linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine with autism, originally published in 1998 in the British medical journal the Lancet. In a series of articles for The Sunday Times of London and in a British Channel 4 documentary, he exposed the research's key finding as a sham. His investigation ultimately resulted in the British Medical Journal denouncing the research as fraudulent in January 2011.
On February 15, we welcome Brian Deer to Toronto to speak about lessons learned during his investigation. Following his presentation, Brian will join a panel discussion with Penny Park, director of Science Media Centre Canada; Dr. Matthew Stanbrook, a University Health Network (UHN) staff respirologist and a deputy editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal; and Dr. Miriam Shuchman, chair of the Research Ethics Board at Women's College Hospital. The discussion will be moderated by the host of Discovery's Daily Planet, Jay Ingram.
ABOUT OUR PANEL
BRIAN DEER is an award-winning British investigative reporter, best known for inquiries into the drug industry, medicine and social issues for The Sunday Times of London. After transitioning from The Times to The Sunday Times in 1981, he soon became Britain's first social affairs correspondent, covering everything from health to crime to child abuse to drugs. His high-profile investigations have exposed deaths and injuries in the UK caused by the antibiotic known most commonly as Bactrim-Septra, as well as a link between the painkiller Vioxx and up to 60,000 deaths from heart attacks and strokes. In February 1998, the Lancet medical journal triggered a global alarm with research proposing a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. Deer's seven-year investigation into the research ultimately exposed its findings as a sham.
PENNY PARK is the executive director of Science Media Centre Canada, a resource centre formed in 2008 to help journalists cover stories in which science plays an important part. Park has extensive hands-on experience in radio and television science journalism in Canada. From 1980 to 1995 she worked as a producer and senior producer with Quirks and Quarks, the award-winning weekly science program on CBC radio. Since 1995, Park has been with the Discovery Channel, where she helped develop the show now called Daily Planet. Originally from Montreal, she first earned a BA from the University of New Brunswick, studying linguistics, followed by a B.Sc (honours) in biology from the University of Guelph, graduating there in 1980.
DR. MATTHEW STANBROOK is currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, a staff Respirologist at the Asthma & Airway Centre of the University Health Network, and a researcher at The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Ontario (ICES). He is also Deputy Editor (Scientific) of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) and an Associate Editor of ACP Journal Club. Dr. Stanbrook obtained his MD as well as a PhD in Clinical Epidemiology from the University of Toronto. He completed residency training in Toronto in Internal Medicine and Respirology and also completed the Royal College Clinician Investigator Program. From 2001-2, he served as Editorial Fellow at The New England Journal of Medicine. His clinical and research interests include the epidemiology of airways diseases and the role of medical journals in knowledge translation.
DR. MIRIAM SHUCHMAN is chair of the Research Ethics Board at Women's College Hospital as well as an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto and a health-care journalist. Prior to joining the hospital, Shuchman served as a national correspondent for the New England Journal of Medicine. Her 2005 book The Drug Trial: Nancy Olivieri and the Science Scandal that Rocked the Hospital for Sick Children won the Science in Society Book Award from the Canadian Science Writers' Association and the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing from the Writers' Trust of Canada. Miriam received research training as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of California San Francisco, studied ethics as a fellow at Dartmouth Medical School and did her residency in psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital. She began serving on a research ethics board in 2003 and became chair in 2008.
ABOUT OUR MODERATOR
JAY INGRAM is co-host and producer of Daily Planet, television's first daily science magazine. Ingram has an extensive background in radio, television and publishing prior to joining Discovery Channel in 1994. From September 1979 to January 1992, Ingram hosted CBC Radio's science program Quirks And Quarks. During that time, he earned two ACTRA Awards, including one for Best Host. In 1993, he hosted The Talk Show, a CBC Radio series about language which won a Science in Society Journalism Award. During the 1980s, Ingram was also Contributing Editor to Owl Magazine. In the 1990s he wrote a weekly science column for the Toronto Star. In 2009, Ingram was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada for a lifetime of renowned service in communications.