'Fugitive' ME scientist arrested
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; twice commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigative journalism. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Tuesday 22 November 2011
The scientist responsible for a controversial study suggesting that a virus could be the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome, otherwise known as myalgic encephalitis (ME), spent the weekend behind bars after being arrested by police in California for being a "fugitive from justice".
Judy Mikovits was refused bail and is due to appear before Ventura County Superior Court today to answer allegations that she wrongfully removed notebooks and other proprietary information from her former employer, the Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Diseases in Reno, Nevada.
Dr Mikovits has, through her lawyers, strongly denied the allegations which stem from a lawsuit filed against her earlier this month by the Whittemore Peterson Institute which alleged breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets following the scientist's dismissal on 29 September.
The Institute was set up in 2007 to study ME and other unusual neurological-like diseases by wealthy US benefactors Anne and Harvey Whittemore, whose adult daughter suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome.
Two years ago, Dr Mikovits co-authored a major scientific study published in Science suggesting that ME was linked to a virus found in mice, called murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV).
However, subsequent attempts to replicate the findings by other researchers failed to establish any link with chronic fatigue syndrome.
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