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Chronic Fatigue Researcher Arrested

Judy Mikovits, notorious in the scientific community since she claimed to link a mouse retrovirus to chronic fatigue syndrome, has been arrested and is being held in jail.

By | November 21, 2011

WMRVWIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Days after the news broke that chronic fatigue researcher Judy Mikovits was being sued by her former employer for allegedly taking data not rightfully hers, the biologist is now in jail. She was arrested Friday (November 18) in by Ventura County, California, sheriffs on felony charges that she is "a fugitive from justice," and is being held without bail, ScienceInsider reported.

The drama started two years ago when Mikovits published a paper claiming that she had found a link between XMRV, a mouse retrovirus, and chronic fatigue syndrome. The study was highly controversial, and its conclucions have since been widely discredited. Then in late September, the Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease (WPI) in Reno, Nevada, fired Mikovits. Last week the institute filed a lawsuit against her, claiming that she took documents from her computer that didn't belong to her.

The details of Mikovits's arrest and detention are still coming to light. According to Lois Hart, one of Mikovits's attorneys, she is being held in California for extradition to Reno, Nevada, where that state's Second District Judicial Court is scheduled to hear arguments for a preliminary injunction in the WPI civil case on November 22. Mikovits also has a hearing in Ventura County that same day, where she can contest the extradition.

"The Whittemore Peterson Institute was required to report the theft of its laboratory materials to law enforcement authorities," Annette Whittemore, president of the Whittemore Peterson Institute, said in a statement. "These authorities are taking the actions that they deem necessary."

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Avatar of: Maija Haavisto

Maija Haavisto

Posts: 1

November 21, 2011

It's always highly embarrassing when people, especially those of supposedly of the science community, confuse chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) and "chronic fatigue". CFS/ME is a disabling neurological illness, which can lead to death. "Chronic fatigue" is a common symptom of most chronic illnesses (yet some people with CFS/ME don't even suffer from fatigue).

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

November 21, 2011

It's always highly embarrassing when people, especially those of supposedly of the science community, confuse chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) and "chronic fatigue". CFS/ME is a disabling neurological illness, which can lead to death. "Chronic fatigue" is a common symptom of most chronic illnesses (yet some people with CFS/ME don't even suffer from fatigue).

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

November 21, 2011

It's always highly embarrassing when people, especially those of supposedly of the science community, confuse chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) and "chronic fatigue". CFS/ME is a disabling neurological illness, which can lead to death. "Chronic fatigue" is a common symptom of most chronic illnesses (yet some people with CFS/ME don't even suffer from fatigue).

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

November 22, 2011

WAY TO GO MAIJA THIS IS WHAT GOOD JOURNALISTS DO THEY SPEAK THE TRUTH...WRITE MORE ABOUT THE FILTH ASSOCIATED WITH CFS/M.E. AND

ALSO 10 MILLION DOLLARS STOLEN FROM CFS RESEARCH AT THE N.I.H. AND THOSE ARE THE ONES WHO SHOULD BE ARRESTED AND JAILED NOT

DR. JUDY M...ALSO ABOUT THESE SAME GROUPS POSTING CARTOON PICTURES OF CFS PATIENTS AS A JOKE AND MILLIONS PUT INTO PHYCO-

BABBLES THEORIES...NOT COUNTING THE INSURANCE INDUSTRIES WHO REFUSE TO PAY CHRONIC SICK INDIVIDUALS AND GET AWAY WITH IT

AND THEY ALL THINK THAT LAWSUITS WILL NOT BE COMING...I HAVE NEWS FOR ALL OF THEM BECAUSE THE REAL CRIMINAL AND PUBLIC

INQUIRIES WILL HAPPEN...PATIENTS WILL BE COMPENSATED IN FULL FOR ALL THE NEGLECT AND FILTH...THE PUBLIC NEEDS TO KNOW THE FULL AND

COMPLETE CRIMINAL INHUMANE THAT CONTINUES ON A DAILY BASIS...HOW MANY MORE CHILDREN MUST DIE BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT

FUNDING PROPER MEDICAL RESEARCH? SINCERELY AND ALWAYS THE FULL TRUTH ABOUT THIS MASSIVE COVER-UP THEY CALL 'TIRED'... AIDAN

WALSH SOUTHAMPTON, U.K. P.S. IF ANYONE DESERVES ANY JAIL TIME IT IS SIMON WESSELY OF THE U.K. CIRCUS...

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

November 22, 2011

Mr. Walsh - kindly do not write your entire post in capitals, it makes it rather difficult to ascertain your tone.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

November 22, 2011

I don't know much about the claims or counterclaims in this particular dispute. But, according to the posting, she was apparently arrested because "she took documents from her computer that didn't belong to her". Were these documents unrelated to her research and that she shouldn't have had access to? If so, that may be criminal. 

However, the posting seems to imply that the arrest is for "taking data not rightfully hers", presumably data related to her discredited research. Did she simply create copies of her research and take it with her, leaving all data behind at her institution? The posting, as written, seems to imply that is what occurred. That is common in any academic setting. In fact, the PI most commonly is the only repository for the data since the Universities, despite their official claim to the data (pretty much only to claim intellectual property for any financial benefits), typically do not store it anywhere. Or did she leave incomplete records behind for which the University needs complete copies in order to conduct their investigations?

So, I need more information about why the arrest was made. I would be highly disturbed if this Institution forced the arrest to ensure that the researcher did not have a copy of her prior studies. That would be prohibiting the norm (in an academic setting; commercial settings certainly restrict data). In fact, if I were an academic researcher facing civil proceedings based on my data, I would certainly make sure that I had an unadulterated copy of 'my' data.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

November 22, 2011

WAY TO GO MAIJA THIS IS WHAT GOOD JOURNALISTS DO THEY SPEAK THE TRUTH...WRITE MORE ABOUT THE FILTH ASSOCIATED WITH CFS/M.E. AND

ALSO 10 MILLION DOLLARS STOLEN FROM CFS RESEARCH AT THE N.I.H. AND THOSE ARE THE ONES WHO SHOULD BE ARRESTED AND JAILED NOT

DR. JUDY M...ALSO ABOUT THESE SAME GROUPS POSTING CARTOON PICTURES OF CFS PATIENTS AS A JOKE AND MILLIONS PUT INTO PHYCO-

BABBLES THEORIES...NOT COUNTING THE INSURANCE INDUSTRIES WHO REFUSE TO PAY CHRONIC SICK INDIVIDUALS AND GET AWAY WITH IT

AND THEY ALL THINK THAT LAWSUITS WILL NOT BE COMING...I HAVE NEWS FOR ALL OF THEM BECAUSE THE REAL CRIMINAL AND PUBLIC

INQUIRIES WILL HAPPEN...PATIENTS WILL BE COMPENSATED IN FULL FOR ALL THE NEGLECT AND FILTH...THE PUBLIC NEEDS TO KNOW THE FULL AND

COMPLETE CRIMINAL INHUMANE THAT CONTINUES ON A DAILY BASIS...HOW MANY MORE CHILDREN MUST DIE BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT

FUNDING PROPER MEDICAL RESEARCH? SINCERELY AND ALWAYS THE FULL TRUTH ABOUT THIS MASSIVE COVER-UP THEY CALL 'TIRED'... AIDAN

WALSH SOUTHAMPTON, U.K. P.S. IF ANYONE DESERVES ANY JAIL TIME IT IS SIMON WESSELY OF THE U.K. CIRCUS...

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

November 22, 2011

Mr. Walsh - kindly do not write your entire post in capitals, it makes it rather difficult to ascertain your tone.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

November 22, 2011

I don't know much about the claims or counterclaims in this particular dispute. But, according to the posting, she was apparently arrested because "she took documents from her computer that didn't belong to her". Were these documents unrelated to her research and that she shouldn't have had access to? If so, that may be criminal. 

However, the posting seems to imply that the arrest is for "taking data not rightfully hers", presumably data related to her discredited research. Did she simply create copies of her research and take it with her, leaving all data behind at her institution? The posting, as written, seems to imply that is what occurred. That is common in any academic setting. In fact, the PI most commonly is the only repository for the data since the Universities, despite their official claim to the data (pretty much only to claim intellectual property for any financial benefits), typically do not store it anywhere. Or did she leave incomplete records behind for which the University needs complete copies in order to conduct their investigations?

So, I need more information about why the arrest was made. I would be highly disturbed if this Institution forced the arrest to ensure that the researcher did not have a copy of her prior studies. That would be prohibiting the norm (in an academic setting; commercial settings certainly restrict data). In fact, if I were an academic researcher facing civil proceedings based on my data, I would certainly make sure that I had an unadulterated copy of 'my' data.

Avatar of: MR AIDAN G WALSH

MR AIDAN G WALSH

Posts: 1

November 22, 2011

WAY TO GO MAIJA THIS IS WHAT GOOD JOURNALISTS DO THEY SPEAK THE TRUTH...WRITE MORE ABOUT THE FILTH ASSOCIATED WITH CFS/M.E. AND

ALSO 10 MILLION DOLLARS STOLEN FROM CFS RESEARCH AT THE N.I.H. AND THOSE ARE THE ONES WHO SHOULD BE ARRESTED AND JAILED NOT

DR. JUDY M...ALSO ABOUT THESE SAME GROUPS POSTING CARTOON PICTURES OF CFS PATIENTS AS A JOKE AND MILLIONS PUT INTO PHYCO-

BABBLES THEORIES...NOT COUNTING THE INSURANCE INDUSTRIES WHO REFUSE TO PAY CHRONIC SICK INDIVIDUALS AND GET AWAY WITH IT

AND THEY ALL THINK THAT LAWSUITS WILL NOT BE COMING...I HAVE NEWS FOR ALL OF THEM BECAUSE THE REAL CRIMINAL AND PUBLIC

INQUIRIES WILL HAPPEN...PATIENTS WILL BE COMPENSATED IN FULL FOR ALL THE NEGLECT AND FILTH...THE PUBLIC NEEDS TO KNOW THE FULL AND

COMPLETE CRIMINAL INHUMANE THAT CONTINUES ON A DAILY BASIS...HOW MANY MORE CHILDREN MUST DIE BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT

FUNDING PROPER MEDICAL RESEARCH? SINCERELY AND ALWAYS THE FULL TRUTH ABOUT THIS MASSIVE COVER-UP THEY CALL 'TIRED'... AIDAN

WALSH SOUTHAMPTON, U.K. P.S. IF ANYONE DESERVES ANY JAIL TIME IT IS SIMON WESSELY OF THE U.K. CIRCUS...

Avatar of: Victoria Forster

Victoria Forster

Posts: 1

November 22, 2011

Mr. Walsh - kindly do not write your entire post in capitals, it makes it rather difficult to ascertain your tone.

Avatar of: FJScientist

FJScientist

Posts: 52

November 22, 2011

I don't know much about the claims or counterclaims in this particular dispute. But, according to the posting, she was apparently arrested because "she took documents from her computer that didn't belong to her". Were these documents unrelated to her research and that she shouldn't have had access to? If so, that may be criminal. 

However, the posting seems to imply that the arrest is for "taking data not rightfully hers", presumably data related to her discredited research. Did she simply create copies of her research and take it with her, leaving all data behind at her institution? The posting, as written, seems to imply that is what occurred. That is common in any academic setting. In fact, the PI most commonly is the only repository for the data since the Universities, despite their official claim to the data (pretty much only to claim intellectual property for any financial benefits), typically do not store it anywhere. Or did she leave incomplete records behind for which the University needs complete copies in order to conduct their investigations?

So, I need more information about why the arrest was made. I would be highly disturbed if this Institution forced the arrest to ensure that the researcher did not have a copy of her prior studies. That would be prohibiting the norm (in an academic setting; commercial settings certainly restrict data). In fact, if I were an academic researcher facing civil proceedings based on my data, I would certainly make sure that I had an unadulterated copy of 'my' data.

Avatar of: Tom Hennessy

Tom Hennessy

Posts: 1457

November 23, 2011

Without bail ? Someone has some powerful friends.

Avatar of: Justin Reilly

Justin Reilly

Posts: 1

November 23, 2011

exactly right!

also, Mikovits was not discredited, this is a gross and very unfair distortion. Silverman's work was because of the mistake he made- his lab was contaminated with XMRV and he was the only one who had the money to sequence, so XMRV was reported.  

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

November 23, 2011

Without bail ? Someone has some powerful friends.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

November 23, 2011

exactly right!

also, Mikovits was not discredited, this is a gross and very unfair distortion. Silverman's work was because of the mistake he made- his lab was contaminated with XMRV and he was the only one who had the money to sequence, so XMRV was reported.  

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

November 23, 2011

Without bail ? Someone has some powerful friends.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

November 23, 2011

exactly right!

also, Mikovits was not discredited, this is a gross and very unfair distortion. Silverman's work was because of the mistake he made- his lab was contaminated with XMRV and he was the only one who had the money to sequence, so XMRV was reported.  

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 19, 2011

I seem to remember legal precedent that says that the data belongs to the PI, and that an investigator who does the work has rights to lab notebooks.

This is ridiculous.

I think that the university has committed a felony, claiming a theft that did not occur.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 19, 2011

I agree that this is ridiculous.
 
This incident should not have escalated so quickly to a ciminal case. It is time for all concerned to step back and handle it appropriately as sane grown-ups. Still, it is very chilling to me as a researcher. We should all be very disturbed that an institution rapidly escalated this to a criminal case, saying data was 'stolen'. At best, this is a civil dispute amongst parties each of whom has rightful claims to the material.

As scientists, we need to ensure that the ensuing legal battle does not hamstring our abilities to continue our studies following a move. In my opinion, this whole episode requires a strong response from the academic community or we may continue to have colleagues facing criminal charges.

A recent issue of Science filled in some background for me. I will summarize below my understanding what transpired. If that information is accurate, I am adamant that the researcher should not be facing criminal proceedings. 

A researcher published data that others could not replicate. The researcher  ruffled some feathers in in an ultimately incorrect defense of her initial data but participated in extensive follow-up studies that put her claim to rest. This dispute was associated with a disease in which an institution had been set up, in a public university, with extensive private contributions from donors. Those donors also became the administrators of the institution and I suspect that this close personal affiliation also may have contributed to the suspicion and rancor that followed. The researcher was fired within one week after the publication of the latest findings disavowing what had become a personal battle for many researchers and patient advocates.

So what about the data that lies at the heart of the criminal charges? From the institution's side, they have a right to access the data that they helped support, alongside of support coming from NIH and DOD research grants to the university. Legally (in the US), federal grants are made to the institution, not the researcher. This is mostly to ensure that funds are spent according to appropriate regulations. But the grants really are to the researcher. You know that because, in the absence of the Principal Investigator, the granting agencies will not entertain any request that the remaining funds stay at the institution for someone else to work on them. When the researcher moves institutions, the granting agencies usually approve the request from the PI to move the funds, as long as the former host institution agrees (which is the norm). In short, funds generally are granted for research that is most affiliated with the PI, not the institution.

So, there were grants to the PI in question. That PI cannot continue her grants without an institution. She needs the data in order to rapidly find another job and request to the granting agencies that the funds be transferred to the new institution. Transferring data and the grants is the norm in an academic institution. As stated in the Science article, the only confounding issue is whether the institution is academic or corporate, since there were private funds involved in the set-up. This blends the line between if the institute was a 'company' or a university. It appears to me though that this is a university, although the continued presence of the donors in administration indicates that there may have been some unusual circumstances associated with the set-up of the institution.

There is an easy solution. Copies of the original data should be available for both the researcher and the institution. The Science article mentions patenting concerns but that is really a separate discussion and, in my opinion, also simple. The usual practice is that the PI and associates are the inventors and the institution is the assignee, which has the real legal standing. Work started in the prior institution that is continued elsewhere needs to have those assignee claims differentiated appropriately at that time.
  

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 19, 2011

I seem to remember legal precedent that says that the data belongs to the PI, and that an investigator who does the work has rights to lab notebooks.

This is ridiculous.

I think that the university has committed a felony, claiming a theft that did not occur.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 19, 2011

I agree that this is ridiculous.
 
This incident should not have escalated so quickly to a ciminal case. It is time for all concerned to step back and handle it appropriately as sane grown-ups. Still, it is very chilling to me as a researcher. We should all be very disturbed that an institution rapidly escalated this to a criminal case, saying data was 'stolen'. At best, this is a civil dispute amongst parties each of whom has rightful claims to the material.

As scientists, we need to ensure that the ensuing legal battle does not hamstring our abilities to continue our studies following a move. In my opinion, this whole episode requires a strong response from the academic community or we may continue to have colleagues facing criminal charges.

A recent issue of Science filled in some background for me. I will summarize below my understanding what transpired. If that information is accurate, I am adamant that the researcher should not be facing criminal proceedings. 

A researcher published data that others could not replicate. The researcher  ruffled some feathers in in an ultimately incorrect defense of her initial data but participated in extensive follow-up studies that put her claim to rest. This dispute was associated with a disease in which an institution had been set up, in a public university, with extensive private contributions from donors. Those donors also became the administrators of the institution and I suspect that this close personal affiliation also may have contributed to the suspicion and rancor that followed. The researcher was fired within one week after the publication of the latest findings disavowing what had become a personal battle for many researchers and patient advocates.

So what about the data that lies at the heart of the criminal charges? From the institution's side, they have a right to access the data that they helped support, alongside of support coming from NIH and DOD research grants to the university. Legally (in the US), federal grants are made to the institution, not the researcher. This is mostly to ensure that funds are spent according to appropriate regulations. But the grants really are to the researcher. You know that because, in the absence of the Principal Investigator, the granting agencies will not entertain any request that the remaining funds stay at the institution for someone else to work on them. When the researcher moves institutions, the granting agencies usually approve the request from the PI to move the funds, as long as the former host institution agrees (which is the norm). In short, funds generally are granted for research that is most affiliated with the PI, not the institution.

So, there were grants to the PI in question. That PI cannot continue her grants without an institution. She needs the data in order to rapidly find another job and request to the granting agencies that the funds be transferred to the new institution. Transferring data and the grants is the norm in an academic institution. As stated in the Science article, the only confounding issue is whether the institution is academic or corporate, since there were private funds involved in the set-up. This blends the line between if the institute was a 'company' or a university. It appears to me though that this is a university, although the continued presence of the donors in administration indicates that there may have been some unusual circumstances associated with the set-up of the institution.

There is an easy solution. Copies of the original data should be available for both the researcher and the institution. The Science article mentions patenting concerns but that is really a separate discussion and, in my opinion, also simple. The usual practice is that the PI and associates are the inventors and the institution is the assignee, which has the real legal standing. Work started in the prior institution that is continued elsewhere needs to have those assignee claims differentiated appropriately at that time.
  

Avatar of: Ellen Hunt

Ellen Hunt

Posts: 74

December 19, 2011

I seem to remember legal precedent that says that the data belongs to the PI, and that an investigator who does the work has rights to lab notebooks.

This is ridiculous.

I think that the university has committed a felony, claiming a theft that did not occur.

Avatar of: FJScientist

FJScientist

Posts: 52

December 19, 2011

I agree that this is ridiculous.
 
This incident should not have escalated so quickly to a ciminal case. It is time for all concerned to step back and handle it appropriately as sane grown-ups. Still, it is very chilling to me as a researcher. We should all be very disturbed that an institution rapidly escalated this to a criminal case, saying data was 'stolen'. At best, this is a civil dispute amongst parties each of whom has rightful claims to the material.

As scientists, we need to ensure that the ensuing legal battle does not hamstring our abilities to continue our studies following a move. In my opinion, this whole episode requires a strong response from the academic community or we may continue to have colleagues facing criminal charges.

A recent issue of Science filled in some background for me. I will summarize below my understanding what transpired. If that information is accurate, I am adamant that the researcher should not be facing criminal proceedings. 

A researcher published data that others could not replicate. The researcher  ruffled some feathers in in an ultimately incorrect defense of her initial data but participated in extensive follow-up studies that put her claim to rest. This dispute was associated with a disease in which an institution had been set up, in a public university, with extensive private contributions from donors. Those donors also became the administrators of the institution and I suspect that this close personal affiliation also may have contributed to the suspicion and rancor that followed. The researcher was fired within one week after the publication of the latest findings disavowing what had become a personal battle for many researchers and patient advocates.

So what about the data that lies at the heart of the criminal charges? From the institution's side, they have a right to access the data that they helped support, alongside of support coming from NIH and DOD research grants to the university. Legally (in the US), federal grants are made to the institution, not the researcher. This is mostly to ensure that funds are spent according to appropriate regulations. But the grants really are to the researcher. You know that because, in the absence of the Principal Investigator, the granting agencies will not entertain any request that the remaining funds stay at the institution for someone else to work on them. When the researcher moves institutions, the granting agencies usually approve the request from the PI to move the funds, as long as the former host institution agrees (which is the norm). In short, funds generally are granted for research that is most affiliated with the PI, not the institution.

So, there were grants to the PI in question. That PI cannot continue her grants without an institution. She needs the data in order to rapidly find another job and request to the granting agencies that the funds be transferred to the new institution. Transferring data and the grants is the norm in an academic institution. As stated in the Science article, the only confounding issue is whether the institution is academic or corporate, since there were private funds involved in the set-up. This blends the line between if the institute was a 'company' or a university. It appears to me though that this is a university, although the continued presence of the donors in administration indicates that there may have been some unusual circumstances associated with the set-up of the institution.

There is an easy solution. Copies of the original data should be available for both the researcher and the institution. The Science article mentions patenting concerns but that is really a separate discussion and, in my opinion, also simple. The usual practice is that the PI and associates are the inventors and the institution is the assignee, which has the real legal standing. Work started in the prior institution that is continued elsewhere needs to have those assignee claims differentiated appropriately at that time.
  

Avatar of: Shagbark

Shagbark

Posts: 2

December 25, 2011

What does that mean, she "took documents from her computer that didn’t belong to her"?  Is the truth that she made COPIES of files that she wrote, with the data she generated, that she needs to try to clear her name?  Forgive me if I don't weep for the Whittemore Peterson Institute until they clarify this.

Avatar of: Shagbark

Shagbark

Posts: 2

December 25, 2011

She "took documents from her computer that didn’t belong to her"?  Does that mean she COPIED the documents and data that she created, which she now needs if she is ever to clear her name?

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 25, 2011

What does that mean, she "took documents from her computer that didn’t belong to her"?  Is the truth that she made COPIES of files that she wrote, with the data she generated, that she needs to try to clear her name?  Forgive me if I don't weep for the Whittemore Peterson Institute until they clarify this.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 25, 2011

She "took documents from her computer that didn’t belong to her"?  Does that mean she COPIED the documents and data that she created, which she now needs if she is ever to clear her name?

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 25, 2011

What does that mean, she "took documents from her computer that didn’t belong to her"?  Is the truth that she made COPIES of files that she wrote, with the data she generated, that she needs to try to clear her name?  Forgive me if I don't weep for the Whittemore Peterson Institute until they clarify this.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 25, 2011

She "took documents from her computer that didn’t belong to her"?  Does that mean she COPIED the documents and data that she created, which she now needs if she is ever to clear her name?

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