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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
Websiterwmalonemd.com

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]

Career

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]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Bartlett, Tom (August 12, 2021). "The Vaccine Scientist Spreading Vaccine Misinformation". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on February 4, 2022. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d "Joe Rogan Experience #1757 – Dr. Robert Malone, MD Full Transcript". Congressman Troy Nehls. January 3, 2022. Archived from the original on January 14, 2022. Retrieved January 6, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Dolgin, Elie (September 14, 2021). "The tangled history of mRNA vaccines". Nature. 597 (7876): 318–324. Bibcode:2021Natur.597..318D. doi:10.1038/d41586-021-02483-w. PMID 34522017. S2CID 237515383. Archived from the original on December 27, 2021. Retrieved December 26, 2021.
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  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Alba, Davey (April 3, 2022). "The Latest Covid Misinformation Star Says He Invented the Vaccines". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  8. ^ "Exhibit F - Declaration of Dr. Robert Malone – #30, Att. #6 in Navy Seal 1 v. Austin (M.D. Fla., 8:21-cv-02429) – CourtListener.com". CourtListener. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  9. ^ "License Number: D55466 Dr. Robert Wallace Malone". Physician Profile Portal. Maryland Board of Physicians. Archived from the original on February 4, 2022. Retrieved January 2, 2022.
  10. ^ Malone, Robert. "Robert Malone". LinkedIn.com. Robert W. Malone. Archived from the original on September 3, 2010. Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  11. ^ One Hundred and Thirty-third Annual Commencement. Northwestern University. 1991. p. 13. Robert Wallace Malone, M.S., University of California, San Diego, 1988
  12. ^ Carr, Julie (December 18, 2021). "mRNA Vaccine Inventor Dr. Robert Malone to Hold Global COVID Summit on Saturday in Gallatin". The Tennessee Star. Archived from the original on January 2, 2022. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
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  14. ^ Robert Malone; Philip L. Felgner; Inder Verma (August 1, 1989). "Cationic liposome-mediated RNA transfection". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 86 (16): 6077–6081. Bibcode:1989PNAS...86.6077M. doi:10.1073/PNAS.86.16.6077. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 297778. PMID 2762315. Wikidata Q34295651.
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  17. ^ Shuqin Xu; Kunpeng Yang; Rose Li; Lu Zhang (September 9, 2020). "mRNA Vaccine Era-Mechanisms, Drug Platform and Clinical Prospection". International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 21 (18). doi:10.3390/IJMS21186582. ISSN 1422-0067. PMC 7554980. PMID 32916818. Wikidata Q99359093.
  18. ^ Wang, Yang; Zhang, Ziqi; Luo, Jingwen; Han, Xuejiao; Wei, Yuquan; Wei, Xiawei (2021). "mRNA vaccine: a potential therapeutic strategy". Molecular Cancer. 20 (1): 33. doi:10.1186/s12943-021-01311-z. PMC 7884263. PMID 33593376.
  19. ^ Oliveira, Nelson. "COVID vaccine pioneers miss out on Nobel Prize in medicine — for now". nydailynews.com. Archived from the original on February 4, 2022. Retrieved January 12, 2022.
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  21. ^ Perlman, William (March 8, 2016). "Zika Countermeasure Options Explored". Contagion. MJH Life Sciences. Archived from the original on August 6, 2021.
  22. ^ "The Team". atheric.com. Atheric Pharmaceutical LLC. Archived from the original on July 14, 2017.
  23. ^ Mandell, Josh (December 11, 2016). "The War on Zika". The Daily Progress. Archived from the original on August 7, 2021. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  24. ^ Chang, Ailsa (May 12, 2016). "White House Request For Emergency Zika Funding Hits Roadblock In Congress". WBUR-FM. Archived from the original on July 29, 2021. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  25. ^ Szabo, Liz (May 5, 2016). "Researchers look to repurpose approved drugs to treat Zika virus". USA Today. Archived from the original on July 29, 2021. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  26. ^ Anwar, Sarah (March 3, 2017). "Repurposing Licensed Drugs for Use Against the Zika Virus". Contagion. MJH Life Sciences. Archived from the original on October 28, 2020.
  27. ^ a b Lardner, Richard (July 23, 2020). "Pepcid as a virus remedy? Trump admin's $21M gamble fizzled". Washington Post. Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 15, 2021. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  28. ^ a b Borrell, Brendan (April 26, 2020). "New York clinical trial quietly tests heartburn remedy against coronavirus". Science. doi:10.1126/science.abc4739. S2CID 219040361.
  29. ^ a b c d Offord, Catherine (April 28, 2021). "Frontiers Pulls Special COVID-19 Issue After Content Dispute". The Scientist. Archived from the original on December 28, 2021. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  30. ^ Kertscher, Tom (June 16, 2021). "The COVID-19 vaccines' 'spike protein is very dangerous, it's cytotoxic.'". Politifact. Archived from the original on August 5, 2021. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  31. ^ "【誤導內容】Robert Malone是mRNA疫苗發明者?" [[Misleading content] Robert Malone is the inventor of the mRNA vaccine?]. factchecklab.org (in Chinese (Hong Kong)). Factcheck Lab 事實查核實驗室. August 28, 2021. Archived from the original on February 4, 2022. Retrieved October 18, 2021.
  32. ^ Karlis, Nicole (August 9, 2021). "How anti-vaxxers weaponized Ivermectin, a horse de-wormer drug, as a COVID-19 treatment". Salon.com. Archived from the original on August 10, 2021. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
  33. ^ "Thomson Reuters Foundation Chairman is also board member at Pfizer". Diverge Media. Archived from the original on February 4, 2022. Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  34. ^ D'Angelo, Peter (July 4, 2021). "Usa, uno degli scienziati dell'Rna messaggero denuncia: "Censurato da Linkedin" dopo aver espresso preoccupazione sulla trasparenza del governo rispetto ai potenziali rischi dei vaccini. La polemica con Reuters". Il Fatto Quotidiano (in Italian). Archived from the original on July 30, 2021. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  35. ^ Gorski, David (August 30, 2021). "Yes, the FDA really HAS given full approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine". Science-Based Medicine. Archived from the original on February 4, 2022. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  36. ^ a b Bella, Timothy (January 24, 2022). "A vaccine scientist's discredited claims have bolstered a movement of misinformation". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on January 25, 2022. Retrieved January 25, 2022.
  37. ^ Goforth, Clare (January 1, 2022). "Conservatives think the U.S. is experiencing a 'mass formation psychosis' because an anti-vaxxer doctor told Joe Rogan so". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on February 4, 2022.
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  41. ^ "NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn't happen this week". AP NEWS. April 8, 2022. Retrieved April 11, 2022.
  42. ^ Putka, Sophie (July 13, 2022). "Doctors Sue Twitter Over Account Suspensions". Medpage Today. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  43. ^ a b "YouTube takes down anti-vax Joe Rogan interview with Dr Robert Malone". news.com.au. January 4, 2022. Archived from the original on January 17, 2022. Retrieved January 6, 2022.
  44. ^ Fenton, Tom (January 4, 2022). "YouTube takes down Joe Rogan interview which likened vaccines to mass psychosis". The Independent. Archived from the original on February 4, 2022. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
  45. ^ https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-coronavirus-psychology-idUSL1N2TN1RE
  46. ^ Yang, Maya (January 22, 2022). "'Menace to public health': 270 doctors criticize Spotify over Joe Rogan's podcast". The Guardian. Archived from the original on January 16, 2022. Retrieved January 14, 2022.
  47. ^ "An Open Letter to Spotify". Spotify open letter. January 10, 2022. Archived from the original on January 17, 2022. Retrieved January 18, 2022.
  48. ^ 2021 Congressional Record, Vol. 167, Page e1403 (January 3, 2022)
  49. ^ "Anti-vaccine activists march in D.C. — a city that mandates coronavirus vaccination — to protest mandates". The Washington Post. January 23, 2022. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on January 24, 2022. Retrieved January 25, 2022.
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