Another Resignation at Autism Speaks
Dr. Eric London has announced his resignation from the Autism Speaks Scientific Affairs Committee. London is the Director of the Autism Treatment Laboratory at the New York State Insitute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities. He is also Director of the New York State Autism Consortium and a member of the Autism Science Foundation's Scientific Advisory Board. He is the co-founder of the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR).
Dr. London's letter of resignation is below:
After three years of great hopes for Autism Speaks being the optimal vehicle to advance autism science and treatment, I regretfully and sadly must announce my dissociation from this organization, including resignation from the Scientific Affairs Committee.
Despite the very excellent work that Autism Speaks has done in the area of awareness and legal advocacy, there are many differences which I have with the organization, mostly concerning the direction and prioritization of the science program. There have been numerous decisions made which I believe have adversely impacted autism research and none of those decisions were made upon the advice of the Scientific Affairs Committee. The processes with which science decisions have been made have been contrary to my hopes and expectations when the NAAR-AS merger was effectuated.
If this were the only issue, I might have continued to try to work from within the organization to influence science policy and direction. However, the pivotal issue compelling my decision is the position which Autism Speaks is taking concerning vaccinations. The arguments which Dr. Dawson and others assert—that the parents need even further assurances and there might be rare cases of "biologically plausible" vaccine involvement—are misleading and disingenuous. Through its website and other communications, Autism Speaks has been influential and contributory in encouraging parents' doubts. By preferentially investing and advocating for the use of limited financial resources on the "biological plausibility" argument, the organization is adversely impacting the advancement of autism research.
Recent reports have documented significant outbreaks of measles and other infectious diseases which could have been controlled and even eradicated. The lowering of the vaccination rate has already led to deaths. If Autism Speaks' misguided stance continues, there will be more deaths and potentially the loss of herd immunity which would result in serious outbreaks of otherwise preventable disease. I further fear that if and when herd immunity is lost, there may be a societal backlash against the autism community.
In my role as an Autism Speaks Scientific Affairs Committee member, I would be lending credibility to an organization whose scientific agenda and positions I can no longer ethically support. Please accept my resignation, effective immediately. If anyone would like to discuss this with me further, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Eric London, MD