Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dr. Landis Leaves a Trail of Genius at the IACC

Base photo via net_efekt

Note to self - if I pass notes at a public committee hearing that disparage a college, parents, or an advocacy group, remember to take they with me next time.

I imagine that Dr. Landis, director of the National Institute of Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and former member of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) is telling herself something along those line today.

I usually try and stay away from stories that are run on Age of Autism but I think this one is kind of important. According to the story at Age of Autism,  Dr. Landis was observed at a recent IACC meeting exchanging notes with one of her colleges, Dr. State.  After the meeting was over, one of the parents attending the meeting saw that there were notes on the floor near were the good doctors were sitting.  People being who they are, the parents picked up the notes and the contents made their way to the Age of Autism site.

The contents of the notes are a fascinating glimpse into the mind of one the committee members.  There are five scribbled notes on the, four of which I will quote below.   If I am reading what was written correctly, Dr. Landis does not care for either the so-called "anti-vax" movement of Age of Autism nor the "anti-cure" movement of Neurodiversity.

This is what Dr. Landis had to say about vaccines and autism -
I wonder is Lyn Redwood is pushing autism as a multisystem disorder to feed into vaccine injury?
Would be a good justification for looking at vaccine injured kids who have gotten awards.
And about the Neurodiversity movement -
This is like the controversy over cochlear implants and the deafness co
There are advocacy groups claiming its more like homosexuality
As a direct result of these notes being published on Age of Autism, Dr. Landis resigned from the IACC committee on Saturday.  And, as David Kirby reports over at the Huffington Post, Dr. Landis issued an apology that her "personal reflections during the meeting have been taken out of context and have been interpreted by the community in ways that I would never intend".

She also threw a bone to the Age of Autism crowd and implied that her remark about looking at kids who have gotten awards really meant that she was in favor of looking for a link between vaccines and autism.

Yea, right.

Don't get me wrong, it would be a good thing if someone seriously tackled the remaining questions concerning vaccines and autism.  But I don't believe for a second that her second remark was talking about doing that.

As for what the ND movement had to say about this?  Well, if you need a good laugh go look at the attempted spin on this post at Left Brain Right Brain.  Poor Sullivan tries so hard to spin this into something that is isn't but all he ends up with his is own "big oops" that should have been deleted rather than posted.  But what else is new.

I think the true importance of what Dr. Landis wrote was the candor of her statements and the insight into what public health officials think of the various factions in the autism world.  There is the impression that the vaccine-autism crowd is looking for a quick payday and that the ND crowd is trying to trying to turn a serious condition into a trivial debate on whether autism is a mental health disorder and whether to treat it.

I don't necessarily agree with everything that Dr. Landis had to say but I do find it refreshing that officials in the government show signs of intelligence.  At least one of the above views is accurate (in my humble opinion).  Here's a hint - most people who have children with autism are looking for answers and a way to help their children - autism is not a get rich quick scheme (if it is, would someone please let me in on the secret?).

I believe the real reason that Dr. Landis is calling it quits is because of what she wrote about fellow committee member Lyn Redwood.  If you are going to publicly state that a college is in it for the money, you had best have something to back up your statement.  She may not have intended for her comment to become public but it did.  In the future perhaps she could prevent this sort of trouble by not passing notes?


  1. As long as Insel and his pals are running the IACC there will be no research into vaccine autism issues. That is certain.

    lbrb response to the Landis note situation was ... well it was just weird.

  2. We can always hope that the IACC gets its act together.

    As for lbrb, well they are just getting stranger and stranger as they move further away from reality.