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Whittemore Institute suing Mikovits for alleged theft of lab notebooks and data

Discussion in 'Media, Interviews, Blogs, Talks, Events about XMRV' started by Lee, Nov 15, 2011.

  1. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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    I don't think the main point is whether the data is correct or incorrect but that property owned by the WPI was stolen by unknown person(s).

    I don't think we know all the details, to be able to say one way or another beyond you are innocent until proven otherwise.
     
    Wildcat likes this.
  2. Mathilde

    Mathilde

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    One other factor not mentioned about the lab notebooks - my understanding is that these are likely to contain day-to-day lab details e.g. who did what at which time. They may contain very detailed information about past experiments.

    I imagine they'd be highly pertinent to the Science investigation. To establish if fraud or misconduct occurred there would probably be some scrutiny of what was in the notebooks. Adds an extra dimension to possible motivations of various parties.
    It's all a big mess.

    (Long-timer reader, first-time poster although I signed up a while ago - my older brother had ME when I was a kid (back when that was it's name). He's been well for a long time now but I still keep an eye on the disease.)
     
    taniaaust1 and being like this.
  3. I find it interesting that critical data is being kept in paper notebooks. I also find it interesting that WPI apparently has no backups of the data on the computers used by its lab personnel. A well run research institution would have its researchers maintain their notes on computers. Those computers would then be systematically backed up so that data could be retrieved in the event of fire / hard drive crashes etc.

    The thought that a fire at that lab could have wiped out all the records of their research is not reassuring. Even more ridiculous is the thought that a hard drive crash or stolen laptop could have wiped out such data.
     
  4. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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    But do we really know if they weren't? It could come down to something as simple as she didn't ask what she could take, or they want to look and see just what information was duplicated. Now I'm speculating. Geese!!
     
  5. urbantravels

    urbantravels disjecta membra

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    I have no idea if something similar to this is done in biomedical research, but I have worked closely with professional engineers in my former career, and often they have special notebooks with page numbering, are required to take their notes in a certain format in pen only, and have similar rules pertaining to their notebooks. This is to prevent information later being tampered with, pages being removed, notes or data being erased - for instance, if a building falls down, the structural engineer gets sued, and they have to produce all their work and data for the lawsuit.

    I don't *think* lawsuits are as common an occurrence in biomedical research as they are in architecture and engineering, but I can imagine that lab notebooks might be kept in a similarly formal way, for uniform record-keeping and accountability. It would be vital to be able to go back to lab notebooks and be able to see consistent and complete records of what was done, what data was collected, etc.
     
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  6. kurt

    kurt Senior Member

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    This is common in any field if there will be patent claims. A hand-written, stitched-binding notebook with signed and dated entries in the researcher's handwriting is strong evidence of when discoveries were made, when processes were first developed, etc. Also, computer records are easier to forge than handwritten notebooks. People pursuing patents are generally told to keep a hand-written log.
     
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  7. Looking at some of the replies I'd imagine the optimal strategy would be to maintain paper notes where it serves the purpose of providing a legal record. Then periodically scan these notes into computers that are backed up to an off site location. That way all necessary data can be retrieved if anything goes wrong. Spending 5% of your research budget to do this does not seem unreasonable.

    If course some folks might decide leaving a minimal data / paper trail might be in their interest. (e.g. Enron , Arther Anderson etc)
     
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  8. justinreilly

    justinreilly Stop the IoM & P2P! Adopt CCC!

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    Annette did imply that WPI did not have backups of the data in her blog post. I don't think it's probable, but she could be lying. Either way, WPI royally screwed up by either not making backups or by lying about it.
     
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  9. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    Blindsiding includes the WPI going to work and finding and enormous amount of data missing the day after their chief investigator was removed from her job and being unable to get it back. I imagine that's where the 'friends' really parted company.

    I want to point out that an unemployed Dr. Mikovits has no way to use that data and so long as she has it, if she has it, work on CFS and XMRV is being delayed. She could have copied it and returned the originals to the WPI; why that hasn't occurred is beyond me but the implications of that data not returning are not pleasant - possibly years of work lost that cannot be redone....XMRV and other research being halted in its tracks......Does that serve the CFS community? Obviously it doesn't.

    If Dr. Mikovits believes that data is important then for the sake of people with CFS that data should be in the WPI's hands because they are the only ones that can use it.
     
  10. pollycbr125

    pollycbr125 Senior Member

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    If she hasnt got it she cant return it Cort . it sounds to me like you have already decided that Judy is guilty and does indeed have the missing items . Im sorry but this is turning out to be a kangaroo court . Dr Mikovits is innocent until proven guilty .
     
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  11. urbantravels

    urbantravels disjecta membra

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    Kurt, thank you for that information. What you describe sounds very much like what I have seen engineers using on major architectural projects. I think some people are assuming that "lab notebooks" are something informal, like the notebooks most of us keep around with scribbles in them, or that there is something improper or unprofessional about keeping work records in that form.
     
  12. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    Cort--I think you missed my point completely.

    HUMAN BEINGS come first. THINGS, like data, no matter how important they are, are down on the list.

    Throwing your *FRIEND* who is a human being in JAIL over a disagreement on THINGS is IMO an insane and unconscionable thing to do.

    I hope that clarifies my point.

    Peace out.
     
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  13. leela

    leela Slow But Hopeful

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    What DB said!

    and also, re:
    There is currently no way to know if she copied it, or who currently has it.
    Most scientists routinely keep copies of their own work. That is normal and expected.
     
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  14. dipic

    dipic Senior Member

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    Seems like there are an awful lot of assumptions being made. Cort, why have you postulated the same thing several times over in this thread as if you somehow know that Judy has the materials? It seems very silly to me.

    Waiting to see some actual evidence before jumping to any conclusions. All I know is that I'm not happy with the way the Whittemores have been acting the past couple months (taking their Facebook up and down, up and down - and pretending as if nothing happened and even asking for donations right after they put it back up; all of their crappy PR non-answers to the questions that we patients, who have greatly supported them for a long time, have posed; threatening to sue very sick patients for "libel" (this upsets me); and I don't know if Judy has the materials they claim she does or not, but jailing her -nice timing by the way with the Enlander meeting- for being a fugitive??? escapes all reason.)
     
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  15. Daffodil

    Daffodil Senior Member

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    im behind mikovits no matter what.....but if it was only mikovit's word against wpi's, why would the judge agree to an arrest warrant?
     
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  16. justinreilly

    justinreilly Stop the IoM & P2P! Adopt CCC!

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    Cort, I think you are assuming facts not in evidence!
     
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  17. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    '

    I was told by somebody whose had experience with the law that the reason the Judge imposed an order restraining Dr. Mikovits from leaving the state was probably because she felt there was a good chance a) that Dr. Mikovits had the materials and b) that she was not acting honestly with the WPI when she denied that she didn't have them.

    If you look at this objectively I think its hard to come to any other conclusion...the materials were apparently present on the WPI's premises until the day Dr. Mikovits was fired - and then they disappeared for some reason unrelated to the firing??? There is no direct proof but the odds that somebody else just happened to pick them up for some other reason must be very low; low enough for the judge to conclude that Dr. Mikovits should not be allowed to leave the state.
     
  18. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    I just don't understand why you think the WPI 'threw' Dr. Mikovits into jail?

    What the WPI did was, after a month of trying to get the data back, file a lawsuit to do so.

    She was not thrown into jail by the WPI - she was thrown into jail because an arrest warrant had been issue for her bv the police.

    The WPI had nothing to do with that and accusing them of throwing Dr. Mikovits into jail just isn't fair in my opinion. The only thing you can blame them for that I can tell is bringing a lawsuit against Dr. Mikovits to recover the missing data. For me, if the information is correct, I think they put in a good amount of time - about a month - trying to get the documents back - before they filed the lawsuit. After that amount of time I would support their producing a lawsuit to get the data back. Other people might think that was too much.

    After that they were essentially out of it; it was all between the Judge and Dr. Mikovits - that's my understanding anyway.

    You can say this is 'just data' but the WPI apparently believes that data could be used to help people with CFS - so its not just data that's missing - its the potential for improving many peoples lives that's missing - something that's well worth going to court over.
     
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  19. leela

    leela Slow But Hopeful

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    OMG Cort, over and over it has been made clear here that she had *already* left the state when this was filed. In fact, she was permitted to go through customs and immigration to fulfill her obligation in the UK. The first injunction against destruction/tampering of the property did not, at least in the copy I have seen, include instructions not to leave the state. This was applied after the fact as far as anyone can tell from reading the documents, when everyone knew exactly where she was--at home, very obviously not being a fugitive.
     
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  20. Kina

    Kina Moderation Team Lead

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    Here is the legal description of the charges that Judy Mikovits was arrested under.

    Code:pC Sec:1551.1 Level:Felony Fugitive From Justice

    1551.1. The arrest of a person may also be lawfully made by any
    peace officer, without a warrant, upon reasonable information that
    the accused stands charged in the courts of any other state with a
    crime punishable by death or imprisonment for a term exceeding one
    year, or that the person has been convicted of a crime punishable in
    the state of conviction by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year
    and thereafter escaped from confinement or violated the terms of his
    or her bail, probation or parole. When so arrested the accused shall
    be taken before a magistrate with all practicable speed and
    complaint shall be made against him or her under oath setting forth
    the ground for the arrest as in Section 1551.

    Now maybe somebody can figure what this means from a legal standpoint. A reporter did state that the police in Ventura were not acting on information coming from the police department in Reno -- it apparently came from some federal department. I personally believe, we are missing a whole lot of information that will come out as events happen.
     
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