Prof. Patrick Holford’s CV

David Colquhoun has blogged about one rather unusual aspect of the CV that Holford submitted in his application for a visiting professorship at Teesside. On his CV, Holford quotes Dr John Marks as praising his work. However, when Colquhoun approached him, Marks stated that:

Way back in, I would guess, the late 1970s or early 1980s I was doing some writing on the vitamins…At that stage Patrick Holford wrote an article or a book on “optimal nutrition” quoting me, inter alia. I did write at his request some comments which were broadly favourable about it, though the text that you quote does not look like mine…Thereafter he has hounded me with pre-publication copies of books etc, each of which has been more exaggerated and less scientific. I was also involved with him at the start of his work on nutritional standards in ordinary members of the public, but it soon became obvious that the whole study was unsupportable and I withdrew completely from it. I also challenged one of his books but got nowhere, even though I suggested that it be not published until he had confirmed some of his ‘observations’…Shortly after that I wrote to him to say that I was not prepared any longer to support his work or views in any way and to please stop using my name as a supporter of his work, and stop writing to me.

Now, the way Holford has used Marks’ alleged quote is unfortunate enough in itself – read the gory details about Patrick Holford and Teesside on Colquhoun’s blog. However, I’ve noticed some other aspects of Holford’s CV which, at best, suggest a certain carelessness or over-confidence.

Firstly, Holford’s CV [PDF link] quotes ‘Guardian’ praise for his work. However, the quote is actually from an article by Lucy Mayhew, which is listed in The Guardian’s prestigious Health, Mind and Body section. The hook for the article is a book launch (the book in question is not by Holford).  So, while Holford quoted the review accurately, it seems rather poor form to cite it as a Guardian viewpoint (it would have been more appropriate to quote, for example, ‘Lucy Mayhew writing in The Guardian’).

Secondly, Holford’s CV refers to his US ‘wellness advisor’, which I noticed was offline in early May. Now, one can’t always predict how business ventures will go; however, the CV was e-mailed to the Vice Chancellor in late May, so this is something that one would have expected to have been corrected prior to sending the CV off.

I would still argue that the quality – or otherwise – of Holford’s work is a significant part of the reason why he should not have been made visiting professor at Teesside. The fact that certain aspects of his CV appear to be problematic only makes the award of Holford’s professorship seem even more disappointing.



Filed under patrick holford, University of Teesside

11 responses to “Prof. Patrick Holford’s CV

  1. I have sliced up the endorsement from The Times in umpteen different ways but I still can’t identify the source of another quotation/endorsement in the CV. It is very unlike Patrick Holford if this was an endorsement in a piece of fan mail and he is refusing to identify the source out of delicacy.

    The ‘recent published papers’ section of the CV lists 7 papers of which the most recent is 2006 but the others are earlier: they are also in the more lightweight end of the research journal spectrum. As Dr Aust notes, the journal in question is not indexed in PubMed which is extraordinary when one considers that the entertainingly loopy, sometimes endearing/infuriating Medical Hypotheses is indexed…

    I wonder if the conferment committee did any phoning around or checking of these implied endorsements? Or, was the whole matter of his credentials neither here nor there when they considered the carrot of a scantily-funded bursary and the potential for collaborative ventures. Not that there seems to have been any checking of the willingness of those potential collaborators to actually collaborate with Holford.

  2. superburger

    ha ha ha ha. good work.

    if people keep hearing the message about PH, his views, his science and his CV then maybe his lucrative TV work will dry up in the same way that Ms McKeith’s seems to have done.

    it’s ace that if you google “patrick holford” this is the 3rd site that comes up.

  3. Hm, there are definitely some interesting questions around Holford’s CV. Oh well…will be interesting to see how this plays out at Teesside…

    And yeah, it’s nice to see that google is following its policy of not being evil, and liking this site :)

  4. Pingback: Patrick Holford and Some Interesting Errors on His CV and Profile « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science

  5. charley

    Lucy Mayhew worked for him as a researcher.

    Admin edit: That’s interesting. Freelance, general researcher or do you know if she was attached to ION in some capacity for a time?

  6. Yes, that is interesting. This article suggests a certain sympathy with Holford’s approach, at least.

  7. Amazing how the same names appear so frequently – e.g. Prof Basant Puri of the famous “disappearing fish oil TV show and paper”, and Prof Andre Tylee, another of those now trying desperately to disentangle their names from the clutches of Cher Patrique.

    The only name in Mayhew’s article I didn’t recognise was Dr Mary Megson. However, a quick bit of internet digging shows she is a US-based DAN! doctor and is into “mercury chelation therapy” (NB – PDF) for autistic children. She also seems to be associated with the Geiers and their “Lupron chemical castration” treatment of ill-repute, and has appeared as an “expert witness” for the plaintiffs in the Autism Omnibus proceedings. Apart from the mercury-vaccines stuff, Megson had previously advanced one or two other fringe biochemical theories for autism and seems to be keen on dosing autistic kids with cod liver oil and vitamin A.

    It certainly does seem to be a small world of Nutri-balls.

  8. Anjana Ahuja nailed it with this description:

    So these mavericks continue to circulate, paddling in the same scientific shallows, attending the same conferences and boasting connections with the same research institutes. They travel the world quoting each other in circular support, reinforcing a fringe belief in unproven interventions for autism and propagating the mistaken view that ordinary doctors are cowed by mysterious vested interests (pharmaceutical companies?) into not doing their best for children with autism.

    Their harmful agenda is, regrettably, assisted by newspapers with acres of space to fill, who delight in feeding the middle-class paranoia over perfect parenting. For these organs, the tall, charismatic, articulate Dr Wakefield is a newsroom blessing on a slow Sunday…

    There is nothing wrong with a scientist pursuing a hunch, and everything right about parents wanting to do the best for their child. There is nothing even particularly sinister about Dr Wakefield gambling his reputation on an instinct. But there is something depressing beyond belief about a scientist who refuses to recant in the face of overwhelming opposing evidence.

    Dr Wakefield claims to hold the interests of autistic children and their parents above all, and has been lauded simply for listening. But showing compassion and respect to those affected by autism is also about being brave enough to admit you were wrong, and not using the fears and hopes of vulnerable parents to push your own agenda.

    The first paragraph is relevant but I like the remainder.

  9. Yes, I remember the Ahuja story. Is she still writing health stuff? I always thought she was one of the (two or three) broadsheet health journalists who could be relied upon to talk sense, one of the others being Sarah Boseley at the Guardian

  10. @Dr Aust: “Megson had previously advanced one or two other fringe biochemical theories for autism and seems to be keen on dosing autistic kids with cod liver oil and vitamin A.”

    Mary Megson is cited by Patrick Holford in ONM in the section on autism – pp 240-1 of the hardback. Of Megson’s theory, he writes: “There is no real doubt that something funny is going on in the digestive tracts of autistic children. Could this be related to Vitamin A deficiency, she wondered?” Holford says “of course, the proof is in the pudding” [sic] and cites a lecture she gave at “the Ninth International Symposium on Functional Medicine, May 2002” – the previous reference in this section is to a paper of Megson’s: Medical Hypotheses, Vol 54(6), 2000, pp 979-983.

    As you say, Dr Aust – it certainly does seem to be a small world of Nutri-balls.

  11. In otherwise well-nourished children with no metabolic defects or other relevant history – no, the proof is not in the pudding.

    This obsession with the status of vitamin A as a cure-all and anti-infective can be traced by to the heady days when vitamins were discovered. So early, that people didn’t realise that they were including vitamin D in with A and only disentangled them later. But it meant that vitamin A was named the anti-infective and cure-all and with the resistance of some belief-systems to scientific innovation (even when it is now 90 years-old), this is still being taught as if it is carved in stone. Note to self – track down Dr Aust recommendation of Vitamania.

    Vitamin A has amazing uses in developing countries and can be very powerful for children – but there are few correspondences in nutritional status and access to health care for them and most children (excluding caveats) in Europe, US and elsewhere.

    And, it is surprisingly easy to overdose well-nourished children on vitamin A: hypervitaminosis.

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