Autism and Vaccines: UBC Defends the Freedom to Research

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Mar 282015

Prof Christopher Shaw advocates scientific freedom for vaccine research. ► By Danni Shanel


With the advent of the recent measles outbreak in the US, the eyes of parents everywhere are once again drawn to the hot-button topic of whether or not to vaccinate their children.

One UBC professor has felt the force of this topic upon his vaccination studies.

In 2011, neuroscientist and professor in UBC’s ophthalmology and visual science department Christopher Shaw published two papers concerning a possible correlation between the aluminum found in vaccinations and autism. These were later discredited by the World Health Organization for appearing to declare causation based on correlation. In recent months, these papers have again come under fire.

In the CBC segment “Day 6” last month, Shaw’s research was accused of being “anti-vaccination,” bringing into question both the integrity of his work and the university’s judgement.

According to Shaw, his papers and the 2011 study have been grossly misrepresented, and that vaccines as a whole are not solely responsible for the spike in cases of autism.

Instead, Shaw believes that autism is most probably the result of a combination of genetic susceptibility and its interaction with one of many possible toxins.

Shaw’s studies look at aluminum in certain vaccines as one of these potential toxins.

“The problem is that aluminum has no role in biology,” said Shaw. “It’s not an element that you want anywhere near any of your cellular processes — it can mess things up very badly.”

As a result, Shaw and co-author Lucija Tomljenovic decided to examine the potential toxicity of aluminum.

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