Ladies and gentlemen, a magic trick*.

I am going to take two pieces of data, from two independent experiments, establishing ‘proof’ of two different concepts, presented in to different formats and to different events…

… And turn them into the same figure.

*waits for the astonished mummers to simmer down*

In my left hand I hold ‘Detection of an Infectious Retrovirus, XMRV, in Blood Cells of Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’, a Science paper from 2009.

Detection of an Infectious Retrovirus, XMRV, in Blood Cells of Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

We can ignore parts of this paper– they have been retracted, as it seems some samples were contaminated in a rather curious (strategic?) manner. Which is fine, because what I want you, the audience, to focus on is Figure 2:

i-2b43758e27bf90730176b0c81aa5fb68-Science Figure 2.png

Specifically, Part C:

i-cb8eb8e265b6b88d61ef774a574e2e46-Science Figure 2, zoom.png

Lets zoom in on it, to get a nice, clear image. Actually, lets zoom in on the bottom part of that figure:

i-c5e626b967ed434d7c79d3980fe7156c-Science Figure 2, zoom 2.png

Its quite clear, there are 8 lanes.

1– Normal
2– Normal
3– 1235
4– Normal
5– Normal
6– 1236
7– Normal
8– SFFV-infected HCD-57

Here is the figure legend:

(C) Lysates of activated PBMCs from healthy donors (lanes 1, 2, 4, 5, and 7) or from CFS patients (lanes 3 and 6) were analyzed by Western blots using rat mAb to SFFV Env (top panel) or goat antiserum to MLV p30 Gag (bottom panel). Lane 8, SFFV-infected HCD-57 cells. Molecular weight (MW) markers in kilodaltons are at left.

Not hard to interpret, right? Some cells from healthy donors do not express XMRV Gag protein, a couple CFS patients do express Gag protein, and a positive control does express Gag. It provides evidence to support the claim that CFS patients PBMC are infected with XMRV, and are capable of producing viral proteins.

Nothing out of the ordinary. *wink*

Now, in my right hand I hold Slide #13 from a presentation a Miz Judy Mikovits recently gave in Ottawa at the IACFS/ME 2011 conference, graciously provided to us by Miz Jamie Deckoff-Jones. A round of applause for Miz DJ, everyone!

*waits for the applause to die down*


Another fairly straight forward figure. Again, 8 lanes:

1– Normal
2– 2905 PBMC
3– 2905 PBMC + 5-AZA
4– Normal
5– 1674
6– 1674 + 5-AZA
7– Normal
8– SFFV-infected HCD-57

Again, PBMC from normal individuals do not express XMRV Gag proteins… but this time, though the CFS patients did not initially express viral Gag proteins, when treated with an epigenetic modifier, they could induce Gag expression. Fairly straightforward explanation for why some patients might *appear* to be negative, but with a bit of lab trickery (we do this stuff all the time in labs), we can make a hiding virus come out and play.

How nice for us all, right? *wink*

Lets zoom in a bit:

i-12e861b44c0be2b96d7ad55f5bc59a2d-IACFS13, zoom

And fiddle a bit with the brightness/contrast:

i-79b669f0e379e44949dd75183a5b9b20-IACFS13, zoom, edit 1

Science is all well and good– Two figures, one providing support of the claim that two patients, 1235 and 1236 are infected with XMRV, the other figure showing two patients, 2905 and 1674 might appear negative, but become positive after treatment with an epigenetic modifier. Neat, but so what?

Well, heres the *really* good part!

Now, watch carefully or you will miss the trick, ladies and gentlemen!


Thats some mighty fine purple.

But how about an alternative view!!! I think Ive made my point, I just like how the far-right blob looks like a rubber ducky:




Two bits of data describing and explaining to two entirely different things… and yet I can make the two images look identical!


Am I magic…?

…or is this a case of arrogant, bold-faced, lazy-ass scientific fraud perpetrated by an apparent pathological liar?

You be the judges, ladies and gentlemen.

I know what my opinions are, but I would very much like to hear your thoughts.

* Though much of this magic trick is my own creation, the original idea was not mine. That individual/Those individuals do not wish to step forward at this time (and rightly so), but should they ever want to take credit for this observation, I will *happily* give it to them. Its wonderful, something I myself missed.

But to all you frauds out there– remember this: Dont. Fuck. With. Scientists. Individually, scientists are smart folks. And even smart folks get screwed over now and then. But together, we are always smarter than you.



  1. #1 MattK
    October 3, 2011

    Never really gotten into this issue much and don’t really have any personal connection, but today I spent a lot of time reading the forums in kind of morbid anthropological curiousity at the spectacle of people who wouldn’t believe their own lyin’ eyes. It’s really sad though how hard this will be for the rest. Some of them are so invested, it is tragic and unfair that it came to this – that they believed that WPI and Mikovits were their only hope. The demonization that has happened to the other members of the scientific community will make it even harder to believe that someone else can, or will, take up the task.

  2. #2 ERV
    October 3, 2011

    Um… I actually dont know whats going on here either, unless the stuff I got was also sent to them and they knew the gig was up before official investigations started.

    But… theyre still gonna have to deal with that, even if they break up.

  3. #3 mary
    October 3, 2011

    doesn’t matter too me PS! ERV obviously has powerful juju…1 magic trick and institutions close!

  4. #4 Smurfette
    October 3, 2011

    Whoa, I guess I didn’t have to be impatient for too long. But still waiting for the details.

  5. #5 JKB
    October 3, 2011

    Actually, Dr. M. and the WPI parting ways has nothing to do with this blog. Completely unrelated.

  6. #6 ERV
    October 3, 2011

    JKB– So theres a lot more fun to look forward to. hehehehehehehehehe!

  7. #7 Mary
    October 3, 2011

    JKB..kinda figured that, but the timing is perfect…

    I wonder if anything that has been questioned here will be addressed?

  8. #8 Joey H.
    October 3, 2011

    The concidence of this post and the announcement about WPI is pretty amazing. I am not at all positing correlation (there’s zero evidence of that so far), but what a combined bombshell.

  9. #9 jaranath
    October 3, 2011

    ‘Cause there’s one small secret that’s buggin’ you
    It would break their hearts if they only knew
    There’s a world outside, you can feel it comin’ in
    Pull the string, and this whole thing’s comin’ down:

  10. #10 Aj
    October 3, 2011

    Breaking news. The entire WPI research program has been closed by the institute’s CEO, and the facility is now locked down. It’s former principle investigator, Dr. Judy Mikovits, is in active discussions concerning institutions to which she may move to continue her grant-funded research. The institutions must remain unidentified, for obvious reasons, but it’s important for patients to know that she remains committed to continuing this critical work.

    Anyone know if there’s still a vacancy at Thoughtful House The Johnson Centre?

  11. #11 deetee
    October 3, 2011

    It’s Wakefield, all over again.
    The patients who believe this junk and the scientists who produced it have learned nothing from their mistakes, because they deny there were any mistakes in the first place.

    The XMRV/ME construct will never die, like the autism-vaccine idea, it will repeatedly arise, zombie like, out of the coffin of catastrophic science blunders even though the final nails have been driven in to it so many times people will have lost count (to paraphrase Orac).

  12. #12 deetee
    October 3, 2011

    Just seen Dr Deckoff-Jones’ Hawaiian pad on her webpage.

    I think I hate her

  13. #13 Jack
    October 3, 2011

    So once again Dr D-J spreads the news that WPI have yet to break.

    Talk about implosion. Of course D-J ‘knew’ the WPI were dodgy but couldn’t bring herself to tell anyone…

    And St Judy ain’t to blame. No siree! Well good luck finding another job.

    What next for WPI then?

  14. #14 deetee
    October 3, 2011

    I found a great video of Abbie doing her stuff:

  15. #15 RedRuth
    October 3, 2011

    I suppose at best they’re incompetent and at worst fraudulent. The first time I saw that paper my thoughts were 1. Crappy blots. 2. Were’s the load control?

  16. #16 herr doktor bimler
    October 3, 2011
  17. #17 Woden
    October 3, 2011

    Heh, “XMRV Global Advocacy” on Facebook blocked a bunch of people (myself included) who were persistently pointing out that he was completely wrong; there’s now large sections where he’s apparently talking to himself.

    If anyone wants to get on his nerves, just start bringing up coefficient of variation with him (in relation to the two images being identical), and/or asking where he received his “extensive” training with Western Blot assays. Granted, he’ll just post yet again stating that you can get identical results from assays, while dodging all questions and evidence.

    More on topic, I’m guessing that nobody has heard any official reasons for the WPI closure?

  18. #18 gf1
    October 3, 2011

    @ John 186.

    Looks like more CFS quackery.

    Patients were ‘cured’ of their disability by changing the boundaries once the results were in.

    It’s another CFS magic trick. The exact same level of fatigue and disability classed as severe at the start of the trial, was then re-defined as normal once treatments had been given. MAGIC! The differences between the measures laid out in the protocol, and the post-hoc ones constructed for the paper are pretty dramatic. There’s no way that they should have been able to class a sf36pf score of 60 as normal.

    I don’t know where this new paper got the 30-40% recovery rate figure from either. The treatments keep getting more effective, as the statistics keep being tinkered with. I can’t wait for the WPI (or whomever replaces them) to start measuring the efficacy of ARVs in this way.

  19. #19 frozenwarnings
    October 3, 2011


  20. #20 Poodle Stomper
    October 3, 2011

    C’mon ERV, post it, you tease! You know you want to!

  21. #21 Mu
    October 3, 2011

    Does anyone know where Judy is getting her grant from? At first I thought all that mentioning of OSI doesn’t mean anything since she’s funded by private money. If she’s indeed got some federal grants she’ll be in an interesting situation (and we might get a lot of inside info from the WPI).
    On the other hand, the “what’s going to happen to Judy’s grant research” doesn’t come up; grants are to an institution, not a person, so unless WPI decided to let the funds go somewhere else (and somewhere else is willing to take on a researcher under OSI cloud) the research is going nowhere.

  22. #22 daedalus2u
    October 3, 2011

    Give ERV a break. I know it is a train wreck and everyone wants to rubberneck and can’t bring themselves to look away, but she has to get back to doing real work or she won’t graduate.

  23. #23 OWE
    October 3, 2011

    I wonder whether dr D-J will now write a strong letter to the CEO of the WPI about feeling insulted by their decision and demanding an APOLOGY?

    Also wonder what spin Gerwyn and v99 will try to give to these developments…


  24. #24 In Vitro Infidelium
    October 3, 2011

    #220 Does anyone know where Judy is getting her grant from? At first I thought all that mentioning of OSI doesn’t mean anything since she’s funded by private money. If she’s indeed got some federal grants she’ll be in an interesting situation (and we might get a lot of inside info from the WPI).

    The WPI recevied at last a $1million in federal grants after Lombardi et al was published in Science; there’s been no substantive publication since the Science article so there appears to be federal funds that are still to be accounted for. Presumably federal grants come with a precondition that results must be made public. If pre 2010 figures are anything to go by WPI operated with only small proportion of research funded by private funds – small donations and an annual fund raising event. The Whittemores donated a large sum to the construction fund for the University of Nevada building in which the WPI is housed, but certainly pre 2010 there were no large single donations to WPI itself from the Whittemore’s or anyone else. The transfer of the private VIPdx labs to WPI may have been achieved by a donation from the Whittemores (Harvey Whittemore was previously registered as the sole owner – apparently having purchased the business from Lombardi). Although the XMRV test was not licensed – VIPdx was a licensed laboratory and could presumably have represented a significant ‘gift in kind’ although income generation would only have acrued to WPI in the current financial year. It’s not clear whether the XMRV test was provided at cost, or on a for profit basis. The whole set up was messy and it’s difficult to see U of N having got involved if it weren’t for the Whittemores contributing to the building project, and (as some have suggested) having influence in the Nevada legisliture, which is where the bulk funding came from for the building project.

  25. #25 RRM
    October 3, 2011


    My prediction (I know it doesn’t make sense, but that’s actually in favor of it):

    As Vincent Lombardi is responsible for actually finding the sequences published thus far and submitting them to Genbank, this will be the perfect opportunity to explain away any past and future evidence of these obvious contaminants.

    You see, Mikovits and Ruscetti were finding these TRUE antibody responses and were isolating RAL virus and making pretty pictures, while Vinnie was contaminating his PCR shit and obscuring real research by the real geniuses.

  26. #26 Jason
    October 3, 2011

    According to reporter, JM does have a R01, Mu. So at least, from the NIH, she’s getting about ~300k for her lab.

  27. #27 DrZZ
    October 3, 2011

    Link to grant specifics. $300K+/yr from NIAID til Aug 2014.

  28. #28 Joe
    October 3, 2011

    Deckoff-Jones’ latest blog entry is worth a read. Apparently there is some turmoil at WPI now.

  29. #29 Paula
    October 3, 2011

    Abbie, where were these two slides presented? You labeled one Science which was, I assume, the photo published in the 2009 article. Then you label one IACFS/ME which I assume means it was presented at a lecture as a change in evidence for XMRV in a couple of patients’ blood samples after adding a chemical to the blood sample ONLY THE TWO PHOTOS ARE THE SAME.

    I don’t get it. It seems this means that Mikowits accidentally used the wrong slide at a presentation. How does this mean that there are no actual contagious retroviruses from mice that are now infecting humans? Also, how does this mistake with a photo at a presentation mean that Lo and Alter’s work finding similar retroviruses in CFS patients is a lab contaminant?

    Speaking of lab contaminants you might want to read this research article and take care of yourself.

  30. #30 autiemum
    October 3, 2011

    that grant says “awardee: Whittemore Peterson Institute”

    Awardee is the person/institution receiving the grant and JM is their PI. She is not the awardee. It doesn’t look like a personal grant to me

  31. #31 ghholm
    October 3, 2011

    Abbie’s hint, from #147:

    The scanned image always has all the labels and stuff that everyone always puts on their gels? Right?


    My speculation is that someone got ahold of the full Ottawa PowerPoint, and uncovered the box that was blocking the “real” labels from the scanned image, which may or may not correspond to the labels from either the Ottawa presentation, or the Science paper.

  32. #32 Dave
    October 3, 2011

    Deckoff-Jones’ latest blog entry is worth a read. Apparently there is some turmoil at WPI now.

    A slightly more reliable source, confirms that the bartender has really been let go.

  33. #33 Joe
    October 3, 2011

    It looks like the Wall Street Journal has a short story on the WPI mess. It cites a dispute over the use of cell lines as the cause of the rupture, but we don’t really know the full story yet.

    Judy A. Mikovits, the embattled scientist who led the research team that found a possible link between the retrovirus XMRV and patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, has been terminated from her job as director of research at the Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease in Reno, Nev.

    The controversial finding, published in a 2009 Science paper, excited patients and researchers who have long been searching for a cause for chronic fatigue syndrome, which has an array of debilitating symptoms that include cognitive difficulties, severe pain, and overwhelming fatigue. On Sept. 22, the authors of the paper, including Mikovits, published a partial retraction of the findings in Science, after two of the 13 study authors found contamination in blood samples from patients.

    A week later, Mikovits was fired, she told Health Blog.

    In a letter from Whittemore Peterson President Annette Whittemore to Mikovits, which was reviewed by Health Blog, Mikovits was terminated after refusing Whittemore’s direct request that cell lines be turned over to another scientist at the institute who wanted to do research on them.

    In a letter of response, Mikovits said that the cells were for use in a specific NIH-funded project and that it would be inappropriate to use them for another purpose without her knowledge and consent.

    Mikovits is a principal investigator on an ongoing NIH-funded study that will test CFS patients and healthy controls for XMRV or related viruses, and she said that she plans to take her grant with her to a new institution where she wants to continue her work on CFS.

    But like many things in the long-running XMRV saga, this may not be simple. Institutions must agree to relinquish grants, and at this writing, it was not clear that the Whittemore-Peterson institute is willing to let the XMRV project go.

    We’ve reached out to the Institute for comment, and will provide an update when we hear back.

  34. #34 jaranath
    October 3, 2011


    Who said it rules out viruses? All this is about is the fact that, at best, Mikovits/WPI had some quality problems with their research, of which this is but one example. At worst, it is evidence that someone at WPI has been engaged in very questionable research practices. Unfortunately there are some reasons to think it’s the latter, including some that we haven’t seen yet. And I do mean unfortunately–I honestly think this will cause more harm to CFS patients, in the long run, than if it was simply the exposure of mistakes and/or incompetence on the part of Mikovits/WPI.

    This has no bearing on the possible role of viruses in CFS other than severely undermining the primary evidence that’s been used to support linking one virus (XMRV) to CFS. But again, who said it did? That’s not what this post is about.

  35. #35 DrZZ
    October 3, 2011

    Wall Street Journal blog Health Blog reports that Mikovits was fired for refusing to share cell lines. It also says she intends to take her grant elsewhere, but as pointed out above, the NIH grant is to the institution, not to the individual, so it is not her call. Very messy.

  36. #36 Mu
    October 3, 2011

    ghholm, you don’t mean that old MS Office behavior of saving whole pictures even if they get cropped to show only a part 😉

  37. #37 Smurfette
    October 3, 2011

    I don’t know how these things are supposed to work but that WSJ article makes it sound like the Whittemores are even shadier than Mikovits if that is possible.

  38. #38 Lee
    October 3, 2011

    Not just refusing to share the lines, but refusing a direct order – from Whittemore Peterson President Annette Whittemore – to share them with another scientist at WPI.

    “In a letter from Whittemore Peterson President Annette Whittemore to Mikovits, which was reviewed by Health Blog, Mikovits was terminated after refusing Whittemore’s direct request that cell lines be turned over to another scientist at the institute who wanted to do research on them.

    In a letter of response, Mikovits said that the cells were for use in a specific NIH-funded project and that it would be inappropriate to use them for another purpose without her knowledge and consent.”

  39. #39 Smurfette
    October 3, 2011

    My speculation is that someone got ahold of the full Ottawa PowerPoint, and uncovered the box that was blocking the “real” labels from the scanned image, which may or may not correspond to the labels from either the Ottawa presentation, or the Science paper.

    Oooh ooh I like this. And they would be that stupid.

  40. #40 RRM
    October 3, 2011



    I have the same experience as you in this (I haven’t got a clue) but my impression from this article is that Mikovits is more at fault. She instantly goes to Amy from the WJS (which makes this more or less a Mikovits POV piece BTW) and while I (like I said) don’t know how this sharing is supposed to work, it seems like a reasonable request – the WPI has an NIH grant to study XMRV. not Mikovits personally. Also, while she showed the letter to the WSJ, she apparently didn’t want the name of the other WPI scientist (Lombardi?) out.

  41. #41 daedalus2u
    October 3, 2011

    Boy is that a lame excuse. It is my understanding that the NIH encourages maximum sharing of research resources including cell lines. NIH encourages anything and everything that advances science and is not forbidden, unethical, dangerous, etc. Especially when those resources are developed with NIH funding and which are not depleted by sharing (as in cell lines which can be propagated).

  42. #42 Smurfette
    October 3, 2011

    @RRM – Anything that Judy says is suspect whether I know anything about the subject, but even without that part, it sounds like the WPI plans to keep going with an even “better” scientist.

  43. #43 Lee
    October 3, 2011

    One almost begins to get the impression that perhaps she does not want anyone else working with her reagents.

  44. #44 mary
    October 3, 2011

    someone asked about WPI grants…along with the link previously provided… here’s their gov’t acct. statement

  45. #45 mary
    October 3, 2011

    WPI has released a statement on their fb page…

    posting a direct link lands me in comment control!

  46. #46 Jack
    October 3, 2011

    Extract from statement:

    ‘The WPI remains committed to a comprehensive research program. Our research team and program remains active, and our lab open to authorized employees. We will continue the critical work of finding answers to M.E. and related diseases.We will use the opportunity created by the departure of Dr. Mikovits to do a full evaluation of our research lab and current research projects.’

    So… Mikovits out and business as usual? I don’t think so. Something smells.

  47. #47 Lee
    October 3, 2011

    “do a full evaluation of our research lab and current research projects”

    Now that is an interesting turn of phrase.

  48. #48 Joe
    October 3, 2011


    I’m sure that you are used to this, but you’ve made some of the loopier CFS patients very unhappy and they are up in arms over this blog post.,9733.0.html

  49. #49 mo
    October 3, 2011

    That probably means they’re dropping the gammaretrovirus direction.

  50. #50 RRM
    October 3, 2011

    This thread by the crazies is even scarier:,9739.0.html

  51. #51 Jack
    October 3, 2011

    Ah well all the more ‘hits’ for Abbie 🙂

  52. #52 Lee
    October 3, 2011


    They don’t say they are evaluating their research direction -although I suspect that is happening as well.

    What they say is that they ae evaluating THE LAB and the CURRENT research projects.

    Why evaluate “the lab”?

  53. #53 jack
    October 3, 2011

    Update from Wall Street Journal:

    ‘Whittemore told the Health Blog that she and Mikovits were “not seeing eye-to-eye” on who controlled the cells. Research on retroviruses and their possible connection to CFS as well as other diseases continues, she said. “We will keep going down that path as long as it continues to show promise,” Whittemore says.’


  54. #54 RRM
    October 3, 2011

    ChicagoScience Trine Tsouderos
    “Journal Science is investigating allegations of figure manipulation in 2009 paper linking #mecfs to #xmrv. Stay tuned. Story to come.”

  55. #55 RRM
    October 3, 2011


    “My speculation is that someone got ahold of the full Ottawa PowerPoint, and uncovered the box that was blocking the “real” labels from the scanned image, which may or may not correspond to the labels from either the Ottawa presentation, or the Science paper.”

    Seems like a good guess (see my post above). And it looks like it might be the Science paper…. 😮

  56. #56 :o)
    October 3, 2011

    Hooray, hooray, the witch is dead!!!

    I never thought it would happen so quickly. I could not be more delighted. Thank you so much for your work & that of the many others.


  57. #57 herr doktor bimler
    October 3, 2011

    Deckoff-Jones’ latest blog entry is worth a read.

    Having nutters commenting in one’s blog entries is no reflection on Deckoff-Jones (or indeed on Deckoff-Jones’s defense of Mikovits). That said, there are some clown-car-pile-up weapons-grade-stupidity nutters commenting there.

    I counted *two* citations of notorious cancer fraud Burzynski as another victim of the Medical Establishment. Vaccines are mentioned. Elaine Defreitas is noted as yet another martyr of suppressed science (despite the details of Defreitas’ claimed discoveries, which differed enough from Mikovits that if either one is right then the other must be completely wrong).

    I half-suspect some of ERV’s regulars of going over there and adding crank-magnetism comments just to stir things up.

  58. #58 mo
    October 3, 2011

    Well, the “mission” of the WPI is to find a cure to CFS, because their teenage (?) daughter is a patient. This is why the institute exists; CFS is their research direction. When Mikovits had something promising to offer (70% of patients XMRV positive + science paper) they were happy to have her. But now that the BWG showed that her results were bullshit and the Whittemores probably know what ERV knows, they maybe decided to fire her and get rid of the gammaretrovirus research and keep the grand money for more promising CFS projects. Hence “evaluating the lab and the current projects” but not the reasearch direction, which is CFS and not XMRV/gammaretroviruses.

    This is speculation, but it makes sense. The Whittemores want to see results, not fund Mikovits crazy crusade of making her retrovirus expertise economically useful while not working on HIV.

  59. #59 RRM
    October 3, 2011

    New tweet by Trine:

    Science: “We are aware of allegations of mislabeled images in 1 of the figures in the 2009 Science paper + in meeting slides.”

    Go, Abbie and anonymous person!

  60. #60 mary
    October 3, 2011

    gotta love Trine..and erv and everyone who helps further science….not hinder it!

  61. #61 Justicar
    October 3, 2011

    I’m so excited that I’m about to piddle. There’s just something I love in watching a person like Mikovits crash and burn. I think its being self-inflicted makes it all the worth the while. Schadenfreude is a beautiful thing.

  62. #62 RRM
    October 3, 2011

    Then this should provide you with a premature ejaculation (if applicable):

    I don’t think I’ve ever read such a weird “explanation” from any scientist…

  63. #63 Richard Jefferys
    October 3, 2011

    I hadn’t seen these quotes from Mikovitz before.

    “The only conclusion is that they were contaminated in the Cleveland Clinic.”

    “We decided not to throw them under the bus. We don’t believe it’s in the interests of science. People make mistakes. They worked very hard to sequence the virus, and now we have to do the next generation.”

    “I told all the editors all this, and they agreed there was no reason to retract the whole paper.”

  64. #64 Justicar
    October 3, 2011

    RRM, it’s about to get a whole lot crazier. Even her mild-kook followers are going to be slapped hard shortly. The heavy kooks will, as always, continue to ride their hobby horse.

  65. #65 Richard Jefferys
    October 3, 2011

    Sorry for the duplicate link, should know not to dither when posting on this.

    In addition to Mikovitz blaming the Cleveland Clinic, Patricia Carter’s comment on the WSJ story tries pointing the finger at the WPI and the VIPDx lab that offered testing:

  66. #66 RRM
    October 3, 2011

    No prob. The Trine story is out too:,0,7328652.story

    “It is our understanding that some patient ID numbers may have been changed to a new set of coded numbers during the research to protect their privacy before publication,” Whittemore said.

    Yeah sure, and some controls got chronically fatigued in the meanwhile….

  67. #67 mary
    October 3, 2011

    Retraction Watch has mentioned ERV’s contribution!

  68. #68 MattK
    October 3, 2011

    Looks like ghholm at 230 guessed right

  69. #69 Smurfette
    October 3, 2011

    Ahah someone above guessed right!

    “A copy of her PowerPoint presentation circulating among an email group also reveals an apparent third version of the image, with a third set of labels, when formatting is turned off.”,0,6792877.story

  70. #70 mo
    October 3, 2011

    “A copy of her PowerPoint presentation circulating among an email group also reveals an apparent third version of the image, with a third set of labels, when formatting is turned off.”

    This is insane, how stupid can you be to let that leak? Congrats ghholm, good guessing.

  71. #71 Dave
    October 3, 2011

    Retraction Watch has mentioned ERV’s contribution!

    So did Trine in her article.

    Dancing Rodents to you Abbie on making a Tribune article!

  72. #72 Smurfette
    October 3, 2011

    I’m kind of curious what those third set of labels are.

    This is like those psycho criminals who intentionally leave clues and get a power trip out of it. I think Judy is enjoying this.

    Time to send a couple e-mails to Chase and Vivint.

  73. #73 ghholm
    October 3, 2011

    From the Tribune article:

    “It is our understanding that some patient ID numbers may have been changed to a new set of coded numbers during the research to protect their privacy before publication,” Whittemore said. “We will work with Science in hopes of addressing their concerns and to gain a full understanding of the cause of any potential discrepancies.”

    Again, speculation: I’m guessing that the third set of labels is the “real” patient numbers. I’m guessing, too, that they probably correspond with the Ottawa conference patient #’s, thus invalidating the #s shown in the Science paper.

  74. #74 MattK
    October 3, 2011

    ghholm, if you’re actually shooting from the hip rather than being on that email list yourself… well if you get this right you should go out and buy yourself a lottery ticket.

  75. #75 ERV
    October 3, 2011

    ghholm needs to apply for the Randi Million Dollar Challenge!

    … Maybe we can use it to recoup some of the wasted money… 😐

  76. #76 EvilYeti
    October 3, 2011

    This debacle sounds like the Schön scandal, which ruined at least the perps career and severely sullied the reputation of Bell Labs:

    re:CFS. So is that like a real thing or what? Seems more like a side-effect of the modern lifestyle.

  77. #77 MattK
    October 3, 2011

    EvilYeti, don’t be a gratuitous shithead. What do you do on for chuckles, stand outside of naturopath clinics waiting for cancer patients to walk out so you can make fun of them?

  78. #78 ghholm
    October 3, 2011

    Holy shiznit…

    No, I’m not on that email list, nor do I have ESP, just speculating based on the hints ERV dropped and the comments in the Trib. article.

    But even still, I never imagined it would be that outrageous. What a total debacle! No way whatsoever for Mikovits to dig herself out of this hole.

    Thanks so much, ERV, for your coverage on this! I had my students read the Science paper and follow the ensuing controversy in my Virology class last year, and have a bunch of students eagerly following the story, but I never thought it would end up here! You (and the anonymous tipster) have done a great service to the virology community for latching on to this issue and helping to bring it to light. Well done!

  79. #79 ghholm
    October 3, 2011

    No matter how many times we say it, (and I think that it gets lost in all the vitriol and anger), the real tragedy is still for the ME/CFS patients that got so excited about a possible cause/cure for their illness, and who got essentially suckered in by Mikovits and VIP Dx. There should be restitution for those people, who have already suffered enough. As a scientist and educator, it saddens me to see the scientific process so sullied by greed and ego, but in this day where “translational science” is all the rage, and the time from bench to clinic is so short, I forsee this happening more and more in the future (and, unfortunately, it doesn’t take a winner of the Randi challenge to see it coming)!

  80. #80 Justicar
    October 3, 2011

    Yes, ghholm As an honorable friend of mine asked me today: “what kind of bitch does this to sick people?”

    Sadly, the question answers itself. :*(

  81. #81 daedalus2u
    October 3, 2011

    I hope that those with CFS don’t get discouraged by this. There are still excellent research approaches to CFS that have not been tried.

  82. #82 EvilYeti
    October 3, 2011

    I’m pretty sure there are irrefutable objective tests for cancer. CFS not so much.

    There are many disorders that have identical symptoms (such as Pernicious anemia). Occam’s razor, dude.

  83. #83 Lee
    October 3, 2011

    “the real tragedy is still for the ME/CFS patients”

    yes – which is a large part of the reason for the vitriol and anger. Not the only part – scientists get angry when science is abused this way. But worse – this was bad science done in a way that hurts people who need help, not false hope. Not just bad science – it is getting really hard to avoid the conclusion that at least some of the work was baldy fraudulent.

    There SHOULD BE anger.

  84. #84 MattK
    October 3, 2011

    EvilYeti, I see what you did there. You can’t suggest that CFS is nothing, or all in people’s heads, and then defend that statement by saying that it is really something else. Also, I’m sorry that you don’t understand Occam’s Razor. It is the most parsimonious explanation for all the data. You can’t just pick one made up fact, say your dipshit idea explains that, and then declare “Occam’s Razor, dude.” Well, you evidently can, but it makes you a fucking wanker.

  85. #85 herr doktor bimler
    October 4, 2011

    There are many disorders that have identical symptoms (such as Pernicious anemia).

    Dude, one of the usual symptoms of untreated pernicious anemia is death. That’s not identical.

  86. #86 Jules
    October 4, 2011

    What? Trine didn’t interview one of the Fruitloops at the Fake Professor Forums to giver her article some balance?? (JK)

  87. #87 EvilYeti
    October 4, 2011

    I’m not suggesting it’s nothing.

    I’m suggesting that if meets the symptoms for anemia *and* in the absence of a pathogen, why go looking for one?

    I’m kinda skeptical that way.

  88. #88 JKB
    October 4, 2011

    @ EvilYeti:
    “meets the symptoms for anemia…”
    Wow. You know nothing about the illness, do you?

  89. #89 Levi
    October 4, 2011

    Busy with other stuff for a few months I stop by today to check all the usual net blogs and forums to get an update/overview on the state of “ME/CFS/XMRV/Whatever.

    Wow! What a mess. If you are a fellow patient, it should be pretty clear that from here on out into the foreseeable future, you will be ON YOUR OWN now in every possible meaning of the term. Best of luck to you.

    ME/CFS etc. is now officially a pejorative label that you need to avoid at all costs if you want to survive without ridicule, a psych rap in your records, or worse. At least there is no simple blood test for it to pin you down with a diagnosis. Unfortunately, neglect is the best you can hope for now from government, medicine, or science.

    However, you can take solace in the knowledge that at least you do not as yet have a legitimately discovered, cancer causing, immune damaging, incurable retrovirus to deal with. Look on the bright side.

  90. #90 mary
    October 4, 2011

    Holy Moly…3 labeled sets….3!

    even if Judy blames this on someone else..she was and always did the presentation of the slide…. she had to know..

    she is toast as a scientist…unless someone can figure out how she survives this cuz I can’t see it..

    Priceless how Guy Fawkes and all his socks are STILL posting everywhere that it’s ERV who doctored the slides cuz see..they DO NOT MATCH…It’s pretty awful of me to say (cuz this person is obviously ill) but I just want to point at him, stare, and JC says.. Schadenfreude at it’s best…

  91. #91 Jack
    October 4, 2011

    Am not convinced Whittemore knows what she is talking about in Trine’s article.

    What are the odds that Lombardi et al. will be retracted in full? Not because of the ‘slide’ manipulation (though that might I suppose lead to an investigation of what remains of the original paper), but generally.

    I mean the authors were asked to voluntarily retract by Science, right? They refused. Silverman’s findings led to a partial retraction and now Science are considering their position as well as looking into Abbie’s revelation.

    What really bugs me though is those patients who were told by Mikovits and/or VIPdx ‘You are positive [or even double negative?!} for XMRV’.

    And yet now the latest spin is that ‘Actually, maybe it wasn’t XMRV but it is definitely a HRGV’?!

    No paper. No evidence (other than at conferences ;)). What is going on here?! Abbie no wonder you are pissed.

    Can Mikovits be disbarred or something? And Whittemore? Why not Lombardi as well (for screwing up his commercial ‘tests’)?

  92. #92 Jack
    October 4, 2011

    Or even false negative! Lol 😉

  93. #93 Smurfette
    October 4, 2011

    Yes, ghholm, I have been thinking about those patients who were literally donating out of their welfare/disability food money for this. I think they can afford to pay back all the donations and NIH grants with interest and damages….

    daedalus2u, this was quite exciting not discouraging, at least for me. (I think I refreshed the page 100 times today.) I am glad that this has only been 2 years and not 20 years like the vaccines and autism saga, though still a little antsy that they will somehow manage to weasel their way out or that it still won’t be the end. Is Wakefield still running around? Anyway, there are several interesting NIH-funded CFS research projects at respectable institutions right now. Maybe it’s a good thing that they’re just working quietly keeping a low profile so they don’t get terrorized.

  94. #94 Sigmund
    October 4, 2011

    Can someone tell us what the third (covered up) set of labels said?
    I think this is the crucial point if you are alleging fraud rather than incompetence.
    If, for example, the covered up labels said the same as the ‘Science’ paper then it looks like fraud.
    However, if it said the same thing as the visible labels on the Ottawa slide, but simply gave different numbers for the patient samples (for example, if it said “patient X” instead of 2905 and “patient Y” instead of 1674) then it could still be claimed that it was a mistake rather than an attempt to deceive.
    In other words the mistake was to take the wrong image and make it into a slide. Changing the patient numbers is nothing unusual in medical research, it’s simply a consequence of patient confidentiality agreements – so long as you don’t claim it is an entirely new experiment (for instance by claiming you replicated an earlier result with “new” patients.)
    For it to be ethical all the patient and control lanes must remain consistent (you cannot have one set claiming lane 2, for example is a normal control in one of those labels and have the overlayed set of labels calling it a patient sample.)
    Someone must have access to this third set of labels.
    Can we see them?

  95. #95 John
    October 4, 2011

    EvilYeti, don’t feel bad, I’m a CFS patient and I felt the exact same way before I got sick.

    The easiest explanation, and the one that is growing to be the most prominant, is that ME/CFS is either comprised of subtypes or perhaps several diseases under the moniker ‘CFS’.

    For an example take two groups, Group A and Group B, with each group having 50 patients for 100 patients total. Then say 35 out of Group A had a certain lab abnormality, response to treatment, etc., while 40 out of Group B had a different abnormality, response to treatment, etc. This would result in 70% of Group A and 80% of Group B (35 and 40 out of 50) having a certain abnormality, response to treatment, etc. However if you do not subtype the two groups, you end up instead with 35% and 40% (35 and 40 out of 100) which is what is thought to happen with most ME/CFS research. There’s all kinds of abnormalities, sometimes quite severe, but they often are not shared by all patients and thus get left behind.

    The above doesn’t even begin to consider the issue that some of the most promising recent ME/CFS research findings have been obtained following exercise challenge. In fact, for most previous studies patients would actually rest for weeks or months prior in order to withstand participating in the study!

    For an example of both of the above, one can look at the results from the recent University of Utah ME/CFS gene expression/exercise challenge study, which found both that ME/CFS patients’ gene expression was not different to controls prior to undertaking exercise challenge but rather only became apparent following the challenge, but also that an apparently unique subgroup popped out-

    The thinking is that once distinct subgroups are able to be objectively diagnosed, then the associated biological abnormalities should start standing out more clearly instead of being lost in the shuffle as they are now, as exemplified by the following from the study- “The majority of (the α-2A Decrease Subgroup) (71%) also had clinical orthostatic intolerance and “suggests that different mechanisms cause the debilitating fatigue in this subgroup.””

  96. #96 Joe Grove
    October 4, 2011


  97. #98 Tristan
    October 4, 2011

    @294: well that’s pretty cut-and-dried, innit?

  98. #99 Sigmund
    October 4, 2011

    The label on the left hand blot in the picture anonymous posted is the following:
    Normal T 3/11
    Normal T 3/21
    2905 5 AZA 4/11
    PBMC 4/11
    PBMC 4/10
    1674 5 AZA 4/11
    PBMC 4/15
    HCD.57 SFFVP
    So if it is the case that this is hidden within the powerpoint slide then it is indeed unethical.
    For a start you do not call patient samples the same as normal controls.
    Second, from the labels the blot is clearly a 5-AZA experiment and not what it was described as in the Science paper.
    Is the powerpoint presentation the source of this picture?
    If it was then I think we have the smoking gun.

  99. #100 Interested Virologist
    October 4, 2011

    Well that explains it. Sort of.

    So in the Science paper, they didn’t say the CFS patient samples were treated with 5 AZA. Interestingly, they didn’t include the crucial ‘Normal + 5 AZA’ control. Looks like a deliberate attempt to misrepresent manipulated patient samples in the Science paper.

    I would be very interested to see what the lanes for an actual Normal + 5 AZA would look like – I imagine it would be pretty similar to the CFS patient ones. If it supported their hypothesis then they would have included it. It’s such a basic basic thing.

    Seems like at the conference they were sort of ‘coming clean’ by showing the real data, but falsifying control lanes (as even they realise they’re a prerequisite for their data to be interpreted).


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