Letter from Annette Whittemore, "Our Responsibility", IP removed from WPI, 11/11/11

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justinreilly

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http://wingsofhopefornid.blogspot.com/2011/11/our-responsibility.html

Wings of Hope blog
"Our Responsibility"
Friday, November 11, 2011

Dear Friends and Patients:

It is important for you to know that WPI is doing all that it can to protect the institutes resources. Several laboratory notebooks, a personal computer and flash drives containing WPI research data and other information disappeared from WPIs research offices, on or near, September 29, 2011. These valuable materials represent the hard work and sacrifice of many people and were paid for by WPI. Your donations were part of the financial resources that supported this research. The theft or loss of these research materials robs us all.

As the guardian of this property, WPI immediately asked to have the materials returned, but to no avail. We have waited until now to tell you this news in hopes that the individual or individuals responsible for this loss would realize the gravity of the situation and return WPIs property in a timely manner. WPI has previously sent a demand letter to the one person responsible for, and with access to, these locked materials and various electronic files. Despite this request, our valuable materials have still not been returned.

Because of the lack of response, WPI has been forced to take legal action demanding the return of our property and has reported the incident to the police and other authorities. WPI received notice this week that a temporary restraining order has been granted to keep our materials from being altered or destroyed, and requiring they be delivered to WPI immediately. We hope that this matter is quickly resolved and that further costly litigation is avoided.

WPI is a non-profit charitable organization, and as such, the work we do is held in trust for the larger community of patients and others it is our mission to help. That means the research equipment, the government and private funds we have been fortunate enough to obtain, and the WPI facility serve a larger community and not any one person. That is why we have our researchers sign a contract confirming the WPI's ownership of all data generated in our research labs as a condition of their employment.

While we hate to spend time and resources on something like this, the costs of legal action pale in comparison to the years of expenses incurred for researcher salaries, equipment, and supplies to generate this valuable work. We have oversight from, and obligations to, the various public and private grant funders who have made this work possible. And we take both these obligations and our public trust very seriously. Our research results must be reported, published, made available to physicians, or otherwise used to benefit all patients who suffer from neuro-immune diseases.

We hope that by keeping you informed of these facts, you will understand how difficult and painful this entire process continues to be for everyone at WPI.

Sincerely,
Annette Whittemore
President
Whittemore Peterson Institute
 

taniaaust1

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Oh all I can say is WOW.

The ME story would all make such a great movie with all its dramas over the years. Someone now has more then damaged their carer.

Im so glad we heard what has happened when Annette Whittemore who is one of us. If I'd heard that from another I would of left not knowing what to believe.
 

justinreilly

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If WPI really believes this data is theirs then they have to file suit. Judy assured patients that the grant is hers, not WPIs, but NIH has confirmed that the grant belongs with WPI, if they can find a competent person to do the study and NIH approves (I'm not saying that they have someone competent to do this). Also, I would be shocked if Judy's contract didn't say that all IP belongs to WPI since this is standard.

It seems to me that WPI should have safeguarded the data better by making automated backups to an offsite or cloud storage.

I guess I have to say once again, I would need to see all the evidence before concluding anything.
 

justinreilly

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Lilly Meehan posted the following letter from her to WPI on mecfsforums:

The following letter was emailed from my computer at my house in my presence at noon on Friday, November 4. It was also hard copy faxed from my fax line at my office at the same time to the lawyer. I personally witnessed this transaction. I am beyond outraged at the shameful accusations thinly veiled by Annette Whittemore in her letter today. Patients need to know that letter titled "Our Responsibility" is full of lies.

I was also present at Dr. Mikovits home on Friday, November 30 at approximately 11:30 am moments after she returned from Reno, having driven all night. I personally saw the empty rental car driven by Dr. Mikovits from Reno to California that did not contain any of the materials alleged in the the letter from Annette Whittemore. The allegations in her letter are astonishing to me. Dr. Mikovits was fired by phone while she was standing on the sidewalk outside her Reno home. She never returned to the WPI. The firing took place at approximately 4:30pm and the lab was locked down by approximately 6:30 pm. Due to the activity of moving out of the Reno home, Dr. Mikovits had no opportunity to return to the WPI at any time. There are ample dated, time stamped receipts documenting and proving her whereabouts from the time of the firing to the time of her arrival in California. At no time did she ever return to the WPI facility. It is impossible for her to have stolen the items alleged in the "Our Responsibility" letter.

I am prepared to testify in court to the events I personally witnessed. Patients need to know that Dr. Mikovits remains fully committed to the well being of the patients. She has always conducted herself with the utmost of integrity. Patients need to ask themselves who had the motive to remove and destroy the notebooks. Who had a motive to remove incriminating evidence? Who stood to lose with the revelation of misappropriation of funds and materials? It was not Dr. Mikovits.

Lilly Meehan, Ventura, California permission to repost
 

justinreilly

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Lilly Meehan also posted this letter from Lois Hart to WPI's lawyer.

11303 State Hwy 78 GIVENS HOT SPRINGS, ID 83641

Phone (208) 495-2198 Fax Please call first ISB#3830

E-mail owyheewinds@yahoo.com

Lois W. Hart

November 4, 2011



Stafford Matthews

SNR DENTON US LLP

1530 Page Mill Road

Ste. 200

Palo Alto, CA 94304-1125



Re: Your letter to Judy Mikovits, Dated November 2, 2011


Dear Mr. Matthews,

My client, Judy Mikovits, and I have reviewed the demand letter your office delivered to her via email and FEDEX, November 3rd.

This is written in response to your statements made in this letter on behalf of your client. All of the allegations of theft, misappropriations, withholding of data and various intellectual property, and items, are incorrect, and untruthful.

Your clients allegations that Dr Judy Mikovits has wrongfully taken and retained laboratory notebooks and other intellectual property owned by the Whittemore Peterson Institute, are not true.

Dr. Mikovits routinely locked the lab notebooks in a drawer in her desk, whenever she left the lab, as they contain confidential patient information. The keys to her desk were always in a placed in a convenient location easily accessible for her lab assistants. Dr. Mikovits habit was to leave them either in the lab, in one of the unlocked drawers under the lab benches that are underneath the lab windows. Otherwise, the keys were in the unlocked top drawer of her desk. Dr. Mikovits assistants always have access to their lab books and anything else they needed at any time.

Dr. Mikovits had worked for several days, including the prior weekend, outside of the country, presenting talks and representing WPI at meetings and conferences. She worked through the week until Thursday, September 29, 2011. Dr. Mikovits left her lab and the WPI building on September 29, at 3:30 p.m. after she had secured the notebooks in her desk. She informed her research associate she would be gone the next and the weekend, and placed keys to her office and the desk as was her habit, in the lab, so that appropriate lab members could access her materials at all times. While waiting for a research associate to pick her up so she could pick up her car rental to drive home in, Dr. Mikovits was outside of her residence on Sierra St in Reno, she received a call from Annette Whittemore. Mrs. Whittemore made an unreasonable and unethical demand that Dr. Mikovits give Dr. Lombardi a cell line paid for by her R01 NIH grant funding. Dr. Mikovits explained to Mrs. Whittemore that she could not allow that to happen, as she was constrained by her obligations, ethics, integrity and lawful obligations as a Principal Investigator. Mrs. Whittemore then screamed at Dr. Mikovits that (explicative deleted) she was fired.



November 4, 2011

Page 2



Dr. Mikovits never returned to the lab or her office after being informed she was terminated. Dr. Mikovits was not and is not in possession of the lab notebooks or any WPI intellectual property. A number of individuals have keys to the office and lab, including the administrative staff, lab staff and custodial. Your clients concern as to the location of those notebooks, and intellectual property, should be directed elsewhere.

Dr. Mikovits brought her thirty-year reputation of honesty, integrity, and laboratory research skills to WPI. This was to the direct benefit not only of the sufferers of ME/CFS, but WPI as an institute. Dr. Mikovits is the Principal Investigator (PI) on multiple government research grants, and those notebooks contain important non-proprietary information that was obtained in the course of said government-funded projects. The original data (gel photographs, charts, etc.) in the notebooks is important backup information for published papers and is needed for completion of publications funded by NIH, DOD and several corporate contactors. Data already published in scientific journals certainly does not constitute proprietary information. Dr. Mikovits notebooks, as well as those of the employees whom she supervised, should be returned to Dr. Mikovits so she can fulfill her responsibilities as PI on these government grants and corporate contacts, as there is an expectation on the part of the granting agencies that the results from government-funded research will be disseminated to the scientific community and to the public. Other than private medical information that is not to be disclosed to individuals who are not authorized by an approved IRB protocol, there is no confidential, proprietary, and trade secret information in the notebooks. Instead, there is important data that should be published to advance the field of neuroimmune disease. Failure of WPI to make these notebooks and raw data available to Dr. Mikovits so that she can fulfill her obligations and defend against false accusations of fraud will constitute serious harm to her reputation and scientific career. Dr. Mikovits has attracted a number of high quality scientific collaborators for the WPI and for the ME/CFS field. Her reputation for scientific excellence undoubtedly was an integral factor in the formation of these collaborations and in her being awarded a number of government grants as PI.

Contrary to the statements you have made in the demand letter, Dr. Mikovits actions after being terminated have are not inappropriate and unethical. Unfortunately, those phrases could be used to describe the sudden wrongful termination of an individual whose direct efforts, and her well-deserved and hard-earned reputation for honesty and integrity, brought in over $3,000,000.00 for research at WPI. Moreover, Dr. Mikovits brought worldwide recognition and awareness of WPI and the victims of a devastating disease, ME/CFS, which continues to change the outlook and scientific research around the world. In particular, it is inappropriate and unethical for the WPI to prevent Dr. Mikovits from transferring to another institution the grants she obtained as PI, making it impossible for her complete the projects. This is especially so, in light of recent public statements that Mrs. Whittemore has made that WPI is no longer pursing such research at WPI.

One of many examples of Dr. Mikovits work and integrity in giving ME/CFS and WPI credibility is that recently a Health Minister in Norway publicly apologized to victims of ME/CFS for not taking the disease seriously, and not treating them properly as they deserved. This resulted because of Dr. Mikovits presentations and one on one talks with many doctors and authorities there last December.

Dr. Mikovits has performed all of her obligations, duties, correctly, fully, legally, ethically and with total focus on the WPI mission even after sudden termination by honoring her commitment to present WPIs work in UK and Ireland October 7-16th, in spite of not being paid by the WPI, while the patients




November 4, 2011

Page 3



fully supported her travel costs. Dr. Mikovits gave herself over fully to this mission, donating not only her time, but also in giving back portions of her own earnings to WPI.

Dr. Mikovits cannot sign the Termination Agreement because she is not in possession of her notebooks, flash drives, nor her laptop computer, which were taken when her office and lab was in control of the WPI.

Dr. Mikovits is not intimidated by threats of lawsuit; rather she respectfully requests that the WPI honor all of its contractual and intellectual obligations to her as she has faithfully honored hers.



Sincerely,



Lois W. Hart
 

justinreilly

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This is horrible. I tend to believe Judy, though I can't really say for sure of course what happened. If Judy doesn't have a copy of these data then all that work will have to be redone! One has to ask why WPI didn't safeguard these data better, by say backing them up offsite or in "the cloud." What a disaster all around.
 

Andrew

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Honestly, I don't know what Whittemore went public with this. It would make more sense to just take whatever action she feels she needs to take. Also, I can think of a scenario where the stuff disappeared and it is not Mikovits or Whittemore. But why stir things up more. I hope this whole thing doesn't become a firestorm.
 

Enid

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Difficult to see what is going on from across the pond justin - just hope for quick resolution so everyone can get back to their research. We need it all. What a sad turn of events. Personally we feel all the research done (positive or negative) was vital. So if XMRV is a contaminant (not the cause) related MLVs are found - we don't see any reason for anybody kicking up a stink - that's just the way science goes. A court case over notebooks sounds a disaster.
 

ukme

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Well I have to say, having read all this, that I tend to believe Dr M. After all she wants the stuff back so she can continue her research, and they say it's lost. How convenient. I dont think that Annette Whittmore comes out of this very well.
 

justinreilly

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I tend to believe Dr. M over anyone else. But I have a hard time believing that Annette would lie about this either. Which would leave the possibilities of a disgruntled employee and/or the nefarious forces of the likes of Wessely & co., CDC or NIH stealing it.
 

Enid

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Yes I agree justin - whoever it's certainly disgruntled. Am sure no-one regrets contributing to the large sums needed for all the research done (well we do not) so can't understand why that was brought in. And as long as research continues for us we will continue to do so. But please leave JM alone to continue hers.

(Nefarious forces/anger/rivalries at work here - who knows - just such a pity really).
 

maryb

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I think its a shocking state of affairs that the WPI have made these thinly veiled allegations and into the public domain as well, Dr Mikovits is an honest, professional researcher with high standards and of the utmost integrity, shame on them.
 

Desdinova

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Wow this is discerning to say the least. I have to say that I find it somewhat exasperating that WPI didn't insist that everything be backed up to a secure drive(s) for redundancy. And it seems to me that if the offical documents involving the grant mention WPI as the recipient and not Judy that it's an open and shut case as to who gets the grant.
 

currer

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This development is the biggest endorsement of Dr Mikovits research to date.

Such things do not happen except where research has value or poses a threat to someone.
 

snowathlete

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[ignoring Angela's post as if it didnt exist]

This development is the biggest endorsement of Dr Mikovits research to date.

Such things do not happen except where research has value or poses a threat to someone.
I think your right, there must be some value to it, else why bother? They are clearly fighting over something that Mits must have been centrally involved in, i wonder what that is.
Problem is, if both parties dig in, we might not find out for years because the legal process for this sort of thing tends to run and run and run.
I can guess all we can do is hope they reach some kind of comprimise, and then maybe we will hear what its all about.
 

Tony Mach

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This is horrible. I tend to believe Judy, though I can't really say for sure of course what happened. If Judy doesn't have a copy of these data then all that work will have to be redone! One has to ask why WPI didn't safeguard these data better, by say backing them up offsite or in "the cloud." What a disaster all around.
Well, I tend not to believe what Judy says (and I'm not saying that I believe what the WPI says). Yes, truely, this is a horrible disaster. The science paper pushed our field along against all resistance (and for that I am thankful), even now that it looks more and more like pseudoscience. Alas, looking to the future, I find it doubtful whether the WPI will contribute much in the near future (I remain sceptical, but open-minded) and I am sure that Judy will not contribute anything meaningful (as it is doubtful that she contributed anything scientific).

(And as a side note: I worked in companies which developed software and hardware, which had equally shitty back-up strategies. Heck, a drive-crash on my private computer once lost me a lot of personal data. Proper back-up is something that is not thought of, especially in small outfits. One does not think what fire can do until your house burns down...).
 

Tony Mach

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This development is the biggest endorsement of Dr Mikovits research to date.

Such things do not happen except where research has value or poses a threat to someone.
Well, this only shows that the people at the WPI still believe that XMRV is a human pathogen and not the contamination that it actually is.

Some people think a toast with the (supposedly) face of Jesus is valuable. Just because some people think something is valuable does not make valuable or even helpful.
 
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I tend to believe Dr. M over anyone else. But I have a hard time believing that Annette would lie about this either. Which would leave the possibilities of a disgruntled employee and/or the nefarious forces of the likes of Wessely & co., CDC or NIH stealing it.

Funny. That thought ran thrugh my head too. Better check with the CDC, CAA, one snarky blogger, or the Chicago Tribune to see if they stole the notebooks! They seem to be the ones with the least credibility through this whole process.
 
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