View From The Trenches

U27111 at U27111 at
Mon Jul 10 02:39:35 EST 1995

William Tivol wrote on 8 Jul 1995 06:49:25 GMT:

>: that was years ago, never knew what happened to him later in his
>: career?).

>        Later??  Did he live long enough to have a later?

You know... that's exactly what one of my co-workers, at that time,
recently inquired - whether if he was still alive or not!  As far
as I know... nobody knows whatever happened to the guy.  Oh well.

>: And once I saw a door to a room completely sealed shut with all
>: sorts of warnings, etc. on it... never new what had happened but
>: the date on the door went back a few years?  Whatever it was...
>: they never got around to cleaning it up?

>        Actually, for some tritium spills, sealing the room and
>waiting many half-lives (12.4 yr) may be the best procedure.

Well... that makes sense, but I still wondered what they did with
the room when they re-modeled the floor a few months later (after
I saw it).  And I can't recall the exact date on the door... but I
think I would recall it going back over 10 years?  ... I think it
was dated 1989?  Just can't recall at the moment.

>: but as far as I was lead to believe, federal institutions do
>: self-policing.  They are not subject to state inspections.

>        No, but they are subject to federal inspections.  I would
>hope that the feds are as tough as the states.

I was not given that impression... it was more of a self policing
attitude where site inspections only came into play if the
paperwork did not look good.  Like I said, I really don't know...
but from an overall general impression, the federal labs I worked
around which worked with radioisotopes just 'seemed' more sloppy
than the non-federal labs in my career.  But then again, I only
worked in one federal institution to date, so this could just be a
function of that particular institution?

>: "If the recent results finding both genes and viruses associated
>: with various cancers are good work,..."

>: Again, you hit the nail right on the head.

>: No this has not been good work... it has been slow in coming.

>        I'll take your word for this for now.  In ~50 years I'll

Let me be absolutely frank here... I've lost a grandfather, various
cousins, an uncle and now my mother to cancer.  In just this past
2 weeks:  one newly diagnosed cancer in one cousin (terminal), one
previously diagnosed case of lung cancer in another cousin; which
has now gone to bone and is now definitely terminal, another
previously diagnosed cancer which has now gone to liver in yet
another cousin, who now has very little time left,...all these have
been blood related.  And finally, I have one [non-blood related]
cousin who has been cancer-free for the past 5 years... and they
just found another spot of cancer which is being removed on Wed.

These family members have run out of time... I wonder how many more
will run out of time before somebody decides to re-evaluate the
research system?

>: I can go on and on with what I have seen... it's no wonder this
>: work is slow in progress.  And when some progress is made...
>: often it's not able to be duplicated or once you get it to human
>: level of testing, it doesn't work as well as initial testing
>: indicated it should.

>        That is a definite indication of something suspicious.  If
>it can't be duplicated, then there's something wrong, and too many
>appeals to not being able to extrapolate from the animal model to
>human makes me think there's something wrong with the model.

Well, it's a combination of politics [make it look better then it
is to continue funding], greed [make it look better then it is so
you can make some money off a patent] and ego [it may very well be
sloppy work which gets propagated as 'valid' because the researcher
fails/refuses to recognize his/her mistakes... also, in today's
funding environment - mistakes are not allowed to be acknowledged].

Probably the most famous example of what I am referring to is
Gallo's claims of finding the virus which caused aids (HIV) in
1983.  From "In Gallo case, truth termed a casualty - Report:
Science subverted in AIDS dispute" by John Crewdson.  Chicago
Tribune, January 1, 1995....

In March of 1987, Gerald Myers, of the Los Alamos National
Laboratory in New Mexico, sent senior officials at the NIH
a confidential memo warning that "a double fraud" had been
perpetrated on the scientific community.  He had compared the
genetic sequences of both the American [HTLV-IIIB] and the French
[LAV] AIDS viruses and determined they were not independent
discoveries, but in fact had to come from the same patient.  In
addition, Myers had also concluded that the American isolate could
not have come from the pooled samples of AIDS patients' blood as it
was claimed by Gallo and the NIH.

Myers wrote:  "I suggest that we have paid for this deception in
more than the usual ways,... Scientific fraudulence always costs
humanity... but here we have been additionally misdirected with
regard to the extent of variation of the virus which we can ill

This memo was buried in NIH files until Dingle's staff 'accidently'
found it in 1994 while doing 'their' investigation.

In "U.S. inquiry discredits Gallo on AIDS patent - Diagnostic test
claims were riddled by holes, probe says" - by John Crewdson.
Chicago Tribune, Sun. June 19, 1994....

When Dr. Martian Bryant, of the University of California, finds
HTLV-3B and LAV to be genetically identical, his boss is contacted
by Gallo and Dr. Peter Fischinger (Gallo's superior) warns them "he
would well be advised not to get in the middle [between Gallo and
the French]."  When the article is finally published, one year
later, it's original conclusion that the two viruses are identical
has been changed to "nearly identical".

Then Gallo claims that the two viruses were 'nearly identical'
because HIV did not change very much - now we know how wrong this
is.  Thus we have an entire field being misdirected on the genetic
variations of HIV for, at the very least, 4 years  - all for greed
and glory.  And the truth being withheld for ??? more years... all
for politics....

And how many more Gallos are out there which hasn't even been
discovered yet?

>        I have been fortunate to experience that feeling.  In
>fact, promoting teamwork rather than competition would be about
>the best thing which could be done to assure scientific
>progress--and it would make research more fun also.

Well... the head of the world health organization has been saying
just that, about AIDS research, for close to three years now....
cooperation instead of competition.  Europe has somewhat gotten the
message (creating a group which 'organizes' AIDS research
throughout all of Europe).

But us researchers here in the US just don't 'get it' and will
probably never 'get it'.

>: Science of the 90's have lost all of these properties... these
>: exact same properties which got us to the moon and back.

>        Not necessarily, but you have to work hard to promote

??? How?  How can you compete with the politics, greed and egos?

>: So when are people going to have had enough of the lack or
>: progress towards AIDS and cancer research and demand the NIH
>: reorganizes?

>        ACT UP has had enough for quite a while now.  I agree with
>you about the kinds of problems, although we may differ on the
>amounts.  I think the solutions will not be simple; reorganization
>of NIH is not as important as reorganization of individual

Well, I guess that's where we split due to our differences on the
'amounts'... for I feel it is already too far gone to effectively
reorganize individual attitudes.  In addition, you would have to
start at the grade school/high school education level to do what
you are talking about.  And with the standards of the US education
system falling as it has... I think there is little to no chance in
that happening.

Thus, the only thing left is to re-organize the NIH and how grants
are given out.

BTW, I really don't know very much about ACT UP, but I didn't think
they included cancer...just aids.  And from what little I have
read... I didn't think their goals (tactics?) really help all that
much towards creating a better research environment.  As a matter
of fact, I think in some ways it has hindered it by making the
government speed up drug approvals through the FDA.  This has
certainly helped the climate of the patent frenzy... and we really
don't have all that much to show for it.  Getting AZT sped through
the FDA only helped Burroughs-Wellcome make $1 billion dollars...
it hasn't helped too many dying people and now is, more than
likely, hurting infants who would not have gotten HIV from their
HIV positive mothers - which AZT being as toxic as it is... I can
well imagine the future cancer/leukemia rates for these children!

Thus, I'm not really all that impressed with ACT UP.


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