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Robert W. Malone

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Robert Wallace Malone
Born1959 (age 62–63)[1][2]
EducationUniversity of California, Davis (BSc)
University of California, San Diego (MSc)
Northwestern University (MD)
OccupationPhysician, biochemist

Robert Wallace Malone (born 1959) is an American physician and biochemist. His early work focused on mRNA technology,[3] pharmaceuticals, and drug repurposing research. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Malone has promoted misinformation about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.[1][4][5][6][7]

Early life and education

Prior to studying medicine, Robert Malone studied computer science at Santa Barbara City College for two years acting as a teaching assistant in 1981.[2][8] He received his BSc in biochemistry from the University of California, Davis in 1984, his MSc in biology from the University of California, San Diego in 1988, and his MD from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in 1991.[9][10][11] He attended Harvard Medical School for a year-long postdoctoral studies program.[12]

In the decade after earning his MD, Malone taught pathology at the University of California, Davis and at the University of Maryland.[7]


In the late 1980s, while a graduate student researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California, Malone conducted studies on messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) technology, discovering in what Nature has described as a landmark experiment that it was possible to transfer mRNA protected by a liposome into cultured cells to signal the information needed for the production of proteins.[3][13][4] With Philip Felgner, he performed experiments on the transfection of RNA into human, rat, mouse, Xenopus, and Drosophila cells, work which was published in 1989.[3][14] In 1990, he contributed to a paper with Jon A. Wolff, Dennis A. Carson, and others, which first suggested the possibility of synthesizing mRNA in a laboratory to trigger the production of a desired protein.[15] These studies are recognized as among the earliest steps towards mRNA vaccine development.[3][16][17][18]

While Malone promotes himself as an inventor of mRNA vaccines,[1][7] credit for the distinction is more often given to the lead authors on the major papers he contributed to (such as Felgner and Wolff), later advances by Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman,[3][19] or Moderna co-founder Derrick Rossi.[13] Ultimately, mRNA vaccines were the decades-long result of the contributions of hundreds of researchers, including Malone.[3][20] The New York Times, in an article about Malone, reported: "While he was involved in some early research into the technology, his role in its creation was minimal at best, say half a dozen Covid experts and researchers, including three who worked closely with Dr. Malone."[7]

Malone has served as director of clinical affairs for Avancer Group, assistant professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore school of medicine, and an adjunct associate professor of biotechnology at Kennesaw State University.[21] He was CEO and co-founder of Atheric Pharmaceutical,[22] which in 2016 was contracted by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases to assist in the development of a treatment for the Zika virus by evaluating the efficacy of existing drugs.[23][24][25][26] Until 2020, Malone was chief medical officer at Alchem Laboratories, a Florida pharmaceutical company.[27] He has claimed he helped secure early-stage approval for research by Merck & Co. on an Ebola vaccine, in the mid-2010s.[7]

COVID-19 research and controversy

In early 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Malone was involved in research into the heartburn medicine famotidine (Pepcid) as a potential COVID-19 treatment following early observational data suggesting that it may have been associated with higher COVID-19 survival. Malone, then with Alchem Laboratories, suspected famotidine may target an enzyme that the virus (SARS-CoV-2) uses to reproduce, and recruited a computational chemist to help design a 3D-model of the enzyme based on the viral sequence and comparisons to the 2003 SARS virus.[28] After encouraging preliminary results, Alchem Laboratories, in conjunction with New York's Northwell Health, initiated a clinical trial on famotidine and hydroxychloroquine.[28] Malone resigned from Alchem shortly after the trial began and Northwell paused the trial due to a shortage of hospitalized patients.[27][29]

With another researcher, Malone successfully proposed to the publishers of Frontiers in Pharmacology a special issue featuring early observational studies on existing medication used in the treatment of COVID-19, for which they recruited other guest editors, contributors, and reviewers. The journal rejected two of the papers selected: one on famotidine co-authored by Malone and another submitted by physician Pierre Kory on the use of ivermectin.[29] The publisher rejected the ivermectin paper due to what it stated were "a series of strong, unsupported claims" which they determined did "not offer an objective nor balanced scientific contribution."[29] Malone and most other guest editors resigned in protest in April 2021, and the special issue has been pulled from the journal's website.[29]

Starting in mid-2021, Malone received criticism for propagating COVID-19 misinformation and conspiracy theories, including making claims about the toxicity of spike proteins generated by some COVID-19 vaccines;[4][30][6][31] using interviews on mass media to popularize medication with ivermectin;[32] and tweeting a study by others questioning vaccine safety that was later retracted.[4] He said that LinkedIn temporarily suspended his account over a post stating that the Chairman of the Thomson Reuters Foundation was also a board member at Pfizer, and other posts questioning the efficacy of some COVID-19 vaccines.[33][34] Malone has also falsely claimed that the Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines could worsen COVID-19 infections,[1] and that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had not granted full approval to the Pfizer vaccine in August 2021.[35] Malone has promoted hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin as COVID-19 treatments.[7] In November 2021, Malone shared a deceptive video on Twitter that falsely linked athlete deaths to COVID-19 vaccines. In particular, the video suggested that Jake West, a 17-year-old Indiana high school football player who succumbed to sudden cardiac arrest, had actually died from COVID-19 vaccination. However, West had died years earlier, in 2013, due to an undiagnosed heart condition. Malone deleted the video from his Twitter account after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from West's family. Malone later said on Twitter that he did not know the video was doctored.[36] On December 29, 2021, Twitter permanently suspended Malone from its platform, citing "repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation policy",[37][38] after he shared on that platform a video about supposed harmful effects of the Pfizer vaccine.[39][40] In an April 1, 2022 interview, Malone made the unfounded claim that COVID-19 vaccines are "damaging T cell responses" and "causing a form of AIDS". Malone claimed that he had "lots of scientific data" to back up his claim, but did not cite evidence.[41] In July 2022, Malone, along with two other doctors, filed a lawsuit against Twitter for suspending their accounts, alleging a "breach of contract."[42]

On December 30, 2021, Malone claimed on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast that "mass formation psychosis" was developing in American society in its reaction to COVID-19 just as during the rise of Nazi Germany.[43][44] The term mass formation psychosis is not found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, is not based on factual medical information, and is described by Steve Reicher, a professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews, as "more metaphor than science, more ideology than fact."[45] 270 physicians, scientists, academics, nurses and students wrote an open letter to Spotify complaining about the content of the podcast.[46][47] On January 3, 2022, Congressman Troy Nehls entered a full transcript[2][48] of The Joe Rogan Experience interview with Malone into the Congressional Record in order to circumvent what he said was censorship by social media.[2][43]

Malone has spoken at anti-vaccine and anti-vaccine-mandate rallies, including a January 2022 rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.[36][49] and a March 2022 rally in Santa Barbara, California.[50]

As of April 2022, Malone has more than 134,000 subscribers on his Substack subscription newsletter.[7] According to media research firm Zignal Labs, Malone has been mentioned more than 300,000 times on social media, cable television, and print or online news outlets.[7]

Personal life and politics

Malone lives in Madison, Virginia on his horse farm with his wife Jill Glasspool Malone, who is trained in public policy and biotechnology.[1][7][51] Although he and his wife have attended several conservative conferences, Malone says that he does not align with any political party.[7]


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