Cha sues over IVF critique

Bruce Flamm, a doctor and former research chairman is being sued for defamation by Kwang Yul Cha, the co-author of a 2001 paper that showed couples who were prayed for (but didn't know it) were more likely to conceive during in vitro fertilization. Flamm has linkurl:publicly criticized the paper;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15149/ for years, arguing it was too implausible to be believed. The lawsuit was a complete surprise, Flamm told me today. "I never would have dream

Alison McCook
Oct 8, 2007
Bruce Flamm, a doctor and former research chairman is being sued for defamation by Kwang Yul Cha, the co-author of a 2001 paper that showed couples who were prayed for (but didn't know it) were more likely to conceive during in vitro fertilization. Flamm has linkurl:publicly criticized the paper;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15149/ for years, arguing it was too implausible to be believed. The lawsuit was a complete surprise, Flamm told me today. "I never would have dreamed that, years [after criticizing the paper], this would potentially end up in a jury trial," he said. "To me, it's always been linkurl:a scientific;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/22226/ issue, not a personal issue. I've never met Dr. Cha." He had expected his comments to fuel a debate, and feed science's "self-correcting system," Flamm added. "As a research chairman and residency director this is what I have taught young doctors for twenty years. " He said that his lawyer is hopeful...
o were prayed for (but didn't know it) were more likely to conceive during in vitro fertilization. Flamm has linkurl:publicly criticized the paper;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15149/ for years, arguing it was too implausible to be believed. The lawsuit was a complete surprise, Flamm told me today. "I never would have dreamed that, years [after criticizing the paper], this would potentially end up in a jury trial," he said. "To me, it's always been linkurl:a scientific;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/22226/ issue, not a personal issue. I've never met Dr. Cha." He had expected his comments to fuel a debate, and feed science's "self-correcting system," Flamm added. "As a research chairman and residency director this is what I have taught young doctors for twenty years. " He said that his lawyer is hopeful the issue can be resolved quickly, but it hasn't stopped his wife from "crying herself to sleep" and fearing they will lose their life savings. "This is a nightmare. " This isn"t the first lawsuit Cha has brought against a researcher. This spring, he allegedly threatened the editor of Fertility & Sterility with legal action after the editor accused Cha and his co-authors of plagiarizing a F&S paper. The editor, Alan DeCherney, linkurl:subsequently retracted comments;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53275/ he made to me and the Los Angeles Times. In his critiques of the prayer-IVF paper, Flamm, based at Kaiser Permanente, noted that it employed a confusing methodology, which required different tiers of prayer groups asking for different outcomes, rather than a simple prayer/no-prayer design. In addition, none of the IVF couples provided informed consent. Last author Rogerio Lobo at Columbia removed his name from the author list, and another co-author, Daniel Wirth, was sent to jail after pleading guilty to a number of charges, including conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud. Last summer, the Journal of Reproductive Medicine withdrew the study from its Web site. Flamm said that the last couple of years have done nothing to convince him that the research is valid. "It's clear that paper can"t be real," he said. "In my opinion, this lawsuit is an attack on both scientific peer-review and freedom of speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment." A PR firm representing Cha did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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