Who Is Poul Thorsen?

Part of the propaganda machine of the anti-vaccine movement is pushing the idea that there is some big conspiracy being hidden by doctors all over the world, the CDC, and Big Pharma – and maybe some Reptilians…

The case of Poul Thorsen is everything they are looking for.

What could be better than a fugitive CDC researcher who published studies that dispute a link between vaccines and autism?

How about a story about a story of a fugitive CDC researcher that everyone is trying to cover up and keep secret?

Or a story about a fugitive CDC researcher who used “crooked research” and tricks “to deceive the public about the evidence linking mercury laced vaccines to autism.”

Who Is Poul Thorsen?

As you might expect, as they did with the so-called CDC Whistle blower, anti-vaccine folks have gotten a little too excited about Poul Thorsen.

Poul Thorsen is one of the Office of Inspector General's most wanted fugitives.
Poul Thorsen is one of the Office of Inspector General’s most wanted fugitives.

Yes, it is terrible that he is accused of stealing grant money that had been awarded “to fund studies of the relationship between autism and the exposure to vaccines, the relationship between cerebral palsy and infection during pregnancy, and the relationship between developmental outcomes and fetal alcohol exposure.”

“Unfortunately, a considerable shortfall in funding at Aarhus University associated with the CDC grant was discovered. In investigating the shortfalls associated with the grant, DASTI and Aarhus University became aware of two alleged CDC funding documents as well as a letter regarding funding commitments allegedly written by Randolph B. Williams of CDC’s Procurement Grants Office which was used to secure advances from Aarhus University. Upon investigation by CDC, a suspicion arose that the documents are forgeries.”

Aarhus Universitet Statement regarding Dr. Poul Thorsen’s involvement in Aarhus University projects 

Over at least six years, Thorsen is said to have diverted over $1 million dollars in CDC grant money to his personal bank account and was indicted on 22 counts of Wire Fraud and Money Laundering. He is currently living and working in Denmark, but not at Aarhus University, from where he resigned in 2009.

Myths About Poul Thorsen

Is anyone trying to keep what he did a secret?

If they are, they are doing a poor job of it, as everything he did is listed on his OIG Fugitive Profile. In addition to Thorsen, who is no longer among their most wanted fugitives, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is seeking more than 170 other fugitives “on charges related to health care fraud and abuse.”

More importantly though, did his alleged Wire Fraud and Money Laundering activities affect the research with which he is associated?

As his main vaccine and autism studies were published before 2004, it is hard to understand why they would be:

  • Madsen KM, Hviid A, Vestergaard M, Schendel D, Wohlfahrt J, Thorsen P, Olsen J, Melbye M. A population-based study of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination and autism. N Engl J Med. 2002 Nov 7;347(19):1477-82.
  • Madsen KM, Lauritsen MB, Pedersen CB, Thorsen P, Plesner AM, Andersen PH, Mortensen PB. Thimerosal and the occurrence of autism: negative ecological evidence from Danish population-based data. Pediatrics. 2003 Sep;112(3 Pt 1):604-6

For one thing, Thorsen is not one of the lead authors in either study – the researchers who made the most significant contributions to the study. His collaborators have even said that Thorsen did not have the ability to influence the scientific results of those studies.

Andrew Wakefield was the lead author on his retracted paper.
Andrew Wakefield was the lead author on his retracted paper. His name came first.

Have subsequent studies found an increased incidence of autism in Denmark, as some Thorsen critics suggest? No. That isn’t even true. Amazingly, even the studies they cite as their evidence, like one by Grønborg, don’t show that!

And there are many other studies that have replicated and confirm Madsen’s (Thorsen’s) finding – vaccines don’t cause autism.

Show Me The Money

But where did the money go?

While “bank records show that he bought a home in Atlanta, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, an Audi automobile, and a Honda SUV with funds that he received from the CDC grants,” it seems like he spent an awful lot of money building up NANEA, his research unit in Denmark – the North Atlantic Neuro-Epidemiology Alliance. For example, these folks didn’t fly coach – they traveled nicely, used limos, stayed at nice hotels, and had fancy parties, as Thorsen thought this was the way to build the world’s best research institution.

So did he really steal all of the money or simply mismanage it?

Either would have been quite easy, as it doesn’t seem like the folks in Denmark required him to file necessary financial status reports. While Thorsen should have been filing status reports after the end of each budget period, no one actually knew what he had been doing with the money for at least the first seven years of the grant period!

Is he on the run from Interpol, as his critics claim?

He doesn’t seem to be, as he is living and working in Denmark.

While he was charged at least three times with tax evasion, those charges were dismissed each time and ultimately rejected by the Vestre Landsret, the highest court in Denmark.

Will he be extradited to the United States? I have absolutely no idea how extradition treaties work, so I won’t comment on that, but it does not seem very likely that a country would extradite one of it’s own citizens to another country for charges like this…

I do know that there is no evidence that the crimes for which Poul Thorsen is accused tainted his research or change the fact that vaccines do not cause autism.

What to Know About Poul Thorsen

Poul Thorsen was a CDC researcher from Denmark who is accused of stealing grant money that was supposed to be used to study fetal alcohol syndrome, cerebral palsy, and possible links between vaccines and autism.

More About Poul Thorsen

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