A well-deserved honor is bestowed

Congratulations are in order.

Earlier this week, someone whom I admire has received a well-deserved honor:

The IOM announced the names of 65 new members and five foreign associates today in conjunction with its 41st annual meeting. Election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

“It is a great pleasure to welcome these distinguished and accomplished individuals to the Institute of Medicine,” said IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg. “Each of these new members stands out as a professional whose research, knowledge, and skills have significantly advanced health and medicine, and their achievements are an inspiration. The Institute of Medicine is greatly enriched by the addition of our newly elected colleagues.”

New members are elected by current active members through a highly selective process that recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health.

There are some familiar (to me, at least) names on the list, such as Nancy Davidson, director, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and an incredibly accomplished oncologist and breast cancer researcher (whom I’ve met on a couple of occasions), and Carlo Croce, director, Institute of Genetics, Ohio State University Medical Center and a famous molecular biologist, among others.

Also on the list is someone well known to regular readers of this blog: Dr. Paul Offit. Dr. Offit is at least as deserving as anyone on the list, and not just for his scientific accomplishments, either. Let’s not forget the abuse and character assassination he constantly deals with at the hands of the anti-vaccine movement, in particular the propagandists at Age of Autism. He’s been called a “biostitute” by anti-vaccine crank Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and “Dr. PrOffit” by innumerable anti-vaccine cranks; portrayed as a baby-eating cannibal; and worse. And all of that abuse came his way because he isn’t afraid to speak out against the anti-vaccine movement and defend vaccine science.

For all of that and more, Dr. Offit richly deserves the honor that’s been bestowed upon him. Through hard work, intelligence, dedication, and integrity, Dr. Offit has climbed to the heights of his profession. Contrast that to Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the person who arguably did more to spark the MMR vaccine scare in the U.K. than anyone else and then later went downhill even from there, devolving into a pathetic excuse for a doctor, stripped of his U.K. medical license, and who has now been reduced to this:

Yes, that’s him speaking last month at the annual meeting of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a denialist, Ayn Randian group of doctors whose crankery includes being anti-vaccine and anthropogenic global warming denialists, to name a couple of the sorts of pseudoscience promoted by the AAPS. I must admit, it’s very appropriate. Dr. Offit will be honored by becoming part of one of the most prestigious organizations in medicine; Dr. Wakefield is where he deserves to be, addressing fellow cranks.

You know, maybe later this week, in Dr. Offit’s honor, I’ll once again lay down some not-so=Respectful Insolence on Andy Wakefield and deconstruct the misinformation Andy presents in his talk, as soon as I screw up my courage and ratchet down my sense of nausea enough to be able to watch all 45 minutes of the video. (It may require alcohol to accomplish after his opening remarks in which he proclaims himself to be so concerned about the patient and given that he later parrots SANE Vax’s fear mongering about there being DNA in the HPV vaccine.) We’ll see.

In the meantime, feel free to take on the numerous errors, bits of misinformation, and anti-vaccine nonsense laid down by Wakefield. I also hope you’ll join me in the comments in congratulating Dr. Offit.