Journalist known for investigations of fraud in vaccine research to speak at UW-L

Sept. 28, 2012

Brian Deer, an investigative journalist for the Sunday Times of London.

Fear that vaccines cause autism has become one of the biggest health controversies in America. But where did the story begin, and what keeps it going? Over a period of seven years, Brian Deer investigated the story for The Sunday Times of London and now comes to UW-La Crosse to reveal what Time Magazine dubbed one of the “great science frauds” of all time.

Deer, an investigative journalist for the Sunday Times of London, in London, England, will give a public lecture “An Elaborate Fraud: The MMR Vaccine & Autism” at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, at UW-L’s Centennial Hall. Deer comes as part of a Distinguished Lecture in the Life Sciences. Priority seating for UW-L students and staff with a UW-L ID is available up to ten minutes before the talk.

“Many people in our community have become concerned about the alleged link between the MMR vaccine and autism, but few are aware of the truth behind this story,” says Bernadette Taylor, UW-L associate professor of microbiology and immunologist.

Launched from one British hospital in the 1990s, the scare took hold first in the U.K., and then spread around the globe. Deer shows how it was done, who did it, and why it will happen again.

Deer is an investigative reporter whose investigations have won him numerous awards, including the British Press Award, Great Britain’s top journalism award, in 1999 and 2011. Specializing in medicine, pharmaceuticals and social issues, he has carried out public interest inquiries for The Sunday Times of London on four continents, made hour-long TV documentaries and has been featured on most of America’s top news and current affairs shows.

“Anyone who has concerns about childhood vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella, and anyone who is interested in the ethical conduct of science will be fascinated by Brian Deer’s story,” says Taylor.

Admission is free. Parking lots C-7 near Eagle Hall and C-2 near the stadium will be available for free parking starting at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 4 and starting at 3 p.m. Oct. 5.

* Brian Deer has requested no unauthorized filming of these events.

If you go:

Who: Journalist Brian Deer
What: Public lecture “An Elaborate Fraud: The MMR Vaccine & Autism”
When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4
Where: 1309 Centennial Hall, UW-L
Admission: Free
Parking: Lots C-7 near Eagle Hall and C-2 near the stadium will be available for free parking starting at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 4.

Deer to talk about investigative journalism

Deer will also offer a special lecture for students, faculty, staff and area reporters on “Stiletto Journalism: Busting the Vaccine Scare” at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5, in 1309 Centennial Hall. For The Sunday Times of London, Deer carried out one of the classic public interest investigations of recent times. He probed the controversy over vaccines and autism. Based on this landmark inquiry, and 25 years of pursuing complex, contentious topics, he gives an inside perspective on how to break a difficult story. The lecture would be of particular interest to reporters and anyone interested in investigative journalism.

If you go:

Who: Journalist Brian Deer
What: “Stiletto Journalism: Busting the Vaccine Scare”
When: 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5
Where: 1309 Centennial Hall, UW-L
Admission: Free
Parking: Lots C-7 near Eagle Hall and C-2 near the stadium will be available for free parking starting at 3 p.m. Oct. 5.