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There was some surprise when the University of Teesside recently appointed as a visiting professor, Patrick Holford, the “media nutritionist” and supplement salesman. This has elicited some indignation from within Teesside as well as without.

The CV that was submitted to the University of Teesside in support of his appointment at Teesside included the following glowing endorsement from “Dr John Marks, Life Fellow and former Director of Medical Studies, Cambridge University.”

“There have been dramatic changes over the past decade in our views about healthcare and Patrick Holford has been right at the forefront of many of these changes, particularly with our revised appreciation of nutrition. The road to bad medicine and bad health is built on the foundation of dogma. It is refreshing to have this dogma subjected to fresh examination.”
Dr John Marks, Life Fellow and former Director of Medical Studies, Cambridge University

Download the CV that was submitted.

The same endorsement appears in the CV on Holford’s web site.

Dr Marks is also cited prominently as a reviewer of Holford’s book, “The H factor” (2003 edition), thus.

“This book covers the exciting developments of the story of homocysteine in current clinical nutrition and medicine. The authors have examined with commendable clarity the controversy which inevitably surrounds any such cutting-edge subject.”
Dr John Marks, former Director of Medical Studies at Girton College, University of Cambridge

And this is the top of the back cover of Holford’s book, “Optimum Nutrition for the Mind (2003 edition)”, as it appears on the Amazon
web site

Dr Marks appears again in a 2004 press release at on Holford’s site.

“Monday 25 October 2004


Britain’s Largest – Ever Health and Diet Survey

. . . .
“Scientific advisors to the survey include Professor Helga Refsum, Professor Jeff Holly, Professor Jane Plant, Professor Andre Tylee, Dr John Marks and Dr Derek Shrimpton. “

Who is Dr Marks?

It turns out that he is now long-retired from his job as Director of Medical Studies at Girton College. Clearly, and very understandably, Dr Marks would now much rather tend his garden than get involved in this sort of unpleasantness. When I drew his attention to the way his name was being used. he said “I agree that he must be stopped but not by running myself into yet more difficulties I want to reduce difficulties for myself having reached middle age (83).”.

Nevertheless, as a public service, he has kindly given me permission to reproduce his initial response.

Dear Professor Colquhoun

Oh dear, my foolishness of youth has come home to haunt me, luckily too late to hurt me.

Way back in, I would guess, the late 1970s or early 1980s I was doing some writing on the vitamins. Essentially my contention was that because of inappropriate eating patterns, it was not possible to say that “a normal mixed diet (as consumed today) provided all the nutrients that are needed”. I used the term “optimum nutrition” to indicate one which did precisely that. Some of this was at least reasonable given the understanding of the day. I know that much of it is no longer accepted (certainly by me), but I have a suspicion that we have swung probably a little too far the other way recently. 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. I had thought and hoped that the whole sad story of my early support for him had died a death, but from what you tell me it seems not.

I have to admit that I have not wasted time and effort reading any of his recent work. In fact I should have difficulty doing so since I am effectively blind.

I hope that this puts you in the picture. I hope that the wording you quote was from his first book, but even that wording does not look what I might have written even in my foolish youth.

Thank you for drawing my attention to the situation but I shall not waste my time issuing denials. It is too late now.

With my thanks and best wishes

John Marks

So it is some time now since Dr Marks wrote to Holford

” 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.”

Dr Marks has now written to Holford to ask for the source of these quotations, having destroyed all his own records that relate to Holford some time ago. If and when he gets a reply it will be posted here.

It is for you, and the luminaries of the University of Teesside, to decide whether or not this amounts to falsification of the CV that Holford submitted in support of his appointment as a visiting professor.

It isn’t just Marks

According to some investigation by HolfordWatch, it seems the Prof Andree Tylee has suffered a similar fate to that of Dr Marks. Tylee is Professor of Primary Care Mental Health, at the Institute of Psychiatry, Holford has been citing him too, contrary to his wishes.

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26 Responses to Patrick Holford’s CV: the strange case of Dr John Marks

  • Shinga says:

    Good grief! Now, some people might read something as embarrassing this and buy a hole on a remote island where they might retire, bury themselves and breed worms. Others may well brush it off as a misunderstanding – I wonder if I might guess which of these will be the Holford strategy.

    Sadly, I doubt that this revelation is sufficient to give the luminaries pause for thought as they must be desperate for cash, or why consider this appt. in the first place – after all, Holford clearly does not meet the criteria for a professorship on academic grounds.

    I’m slightly out of touch – how might one be awarded a professorship that is not ‘in’ something? If Holford is not a ‘Visiting Professor in Nutrition’ then, is he Visiting Professor Not Otherwise Specified or what?

  • Shinga says:

    Given the number of people who seem to be dissociating/disentangling themselves from Holford and his work it is going to be interesting to see the full CV with extensive personal commentary. Until/unless we see the CV, we can’t know what he claimed…

  • Oops, You can now download the CV (link near the top), thanks to the Freedom of Information Act

  • bengoldacre says:


  • Dr Aust says:

    Patrick’s papers listed on the CV seem to mostly be in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine:


    ..which is not listed by PubMed (pretty startling given how many barking Alt Med journals are).

    It is pubished by these guys:


    Wikipedia also has something on orthmolecular medicine:


    – the list of orthomolecular doctors (containing, inter alia, Matthias Rath) does not inspire confidence.

    I feel rather sorry for Otto Warburg and Albert Szent-Gyorgi, listed along with Linus Pauling under “notable orthomolecular scientists”. It remains a sadness to many people in science that Pauling, a truly great scientist and human being, helped give birth to this brood of nutri-bullshitters.

  • Slartibartfast says:

    Well if he’s a professor I’m the vice-chancellor. It’s the first time I’ve seen someone base a CV on qualifications they have almost completely awarded themselves, employment they have entirely given themselves, papers in very weird journals, and effusive endorsement from uninformed lay media. Oh and the presumably faked testimonial. Never mind the luminary professors, I should think the university porter would have seen this coming a mile off.

  • lecanardnoir says:


    I must use 30/40 year old quotes on my CV. Although, i am not sure how ‘he’s got his father’s nose’ will go down with future emplyees.

  • wilsontown says:

    Hm, I tried to run the press quotes at the end of his CV through Google. Didn’t manage to find any of them, apart from on Patrick Holford’s website. Perhaps they are also 30 to 40 years old?

  • wilsontown says:

    Ah, did find the Independent one eventually…perhaps I’m wrong.

  • wilsontown says:

    I can’t find anything about him being named health journalist of the year by the Times, though. Anyone else?

  • jdc325 says:

    I tried to find papers by ‘Holford P’ on pubmed and just got the two hits. Only one had an abstract – almost certainly not The Professor. Unless he is into mycological research now.

  • Shinga says:

    It’s not just you, Wilsontown. I chopped the quotation from The Times into various pieces and couldn’t find them. I don’t think that Holford has been named as an award-winning health journalist by The Times I think that the quotation is supposed to have been printed in The Times and written by an award winning etc. etc.

    However, we shouldn’t need a secret decoder ring for this – especially not when a post as Visiting Professor is up for discussion.

    However, I am beginning to wonder just how many fudges such a short document should reasonably be expected to sustain before crying ‘foul’.

  • Dr Aust says:

    The statement from the Dean of Teeside’s School of Health & Social Care (i.e. the bit which probably includes their health and bioscientists) reproduced on the other HolfordCV thread:

    Patrick Holford -a professor?

    – strongly suggests that Teeside’s own scientists are not jumping for joy at Patrick’s apotheosis amongst them. I suspect the Teeside VC and his mates saw this as simply a question of “promotion” (not for Patrick – for the institution).

    Sites like this one, Holfordwatch and Badscience are key to making sure this ludicrous decision comes back to bite them.
    Here’s hoping Dr Crippen plugs it when his blog re-appears.

    Also still hoping some health or higher ed journo will pick it up. I would have thought it would appeal to the THES as a story.

  • jdc325 says:

    I see Holford Watch and LCN have picked up on some errors in Patrick’s CV.

  • UKdietitian says:

    How ironic.

    If a RD attempted such a creative CV as Holford to illegally achieve a clinical post they would quickly be removed from said post and would face disciplinary action and the strong likelihoood of being struck off the Dietitians Board register by their regulatory body, the Health Professions Council (www.hpc-uk.org), thus preventing them from ever practicing again as a RD.

    How fortunate for Holford that he uses the smokescreen ‘qualification’ of his own diploma frm his awarding body (the phoenix-like ION) and being a founder-woo member of BANT can bedazzle the even flakier woo nutritionist’s (remember, he is about as good as you get, woo nutritionist wise – the rest are even weaker knowledge-wise than he), thus ensuring his memory slips regarding educational achievements bypass notice, guaranteeing he remains unscathed by the whole process.

    His shallow ‘DipION’ and ‘FBANT’ pseudo-qualifications continue to give the ignorant public misleading reassurance of his true status.

    It’s time the Univ of Teeside stated enough was enough, that they were duped, and they want to maintain their educational status by withdrawal of the ‘visiting professor’ tag. A quick Google should convince them that this snake-oil salesman has schmoozed them into generating a yet-more pseud-impressive CV on which to push his weird interpretations of clinical nutrition science. According to Google this evening, Patricks exploitation of his new status appears on no less than 397 websites bearing his honorary title as supposed ‘evidence’ of his status.




  • LeeT says:

    On page 428 of “The New Optimum Nutrition Bible” there is a reference to Dr John Marks, medical director of Girton College, Cambridge.

    Should that not be “former medical director”?

  • redgecko says:

    Several months ago said Holford unleashed his lawyers on me because I had exploited his passion for self-publicity. I quoted him on my website endorsing a product we distribute (Smartfish, a Norwegian fish oil for kids). At first he vehemently denied it until I provided proof that he had evaluated several fish oils for a UK newspaper and voted Smartfish No 1.

    Holford has a very aggressive supplements business in South Africa, and his own brand markets an Omega 3 for kids, so u can imagine the embarrassment of having the boss punting someone else’s product. We certainly enjoyed the irony.

    I did finally remove the “offensive” plug (his lawyers wanted lotsa money from me if I didn’t).

    If there is a moral to all this, I guess it’s this: sometimes bullshitters have to wallow (even if it’s only briefly) in their own bullshit.

  • LeeT says:

    It is a few years since I studied business law, but I can’t think of a reason in law that Holford would be able to sue you. Presumably copyright for the article would rest with the newspaper? They generally value any sort of publicity so presumably all you would need to is mention “The Daily Scream’s Healthy Living Supplement.”

    Possibly his name and face are now registered trademarks!! Just out of interest how much did he want to charge for his good name? We won’t tell anyone …

  • […] accused of malicious behaviour, because I posted a letter from Dr Marks which set out his present views All I did was ask Dr Marks about what happened, and, with his […]

  • […] work and reproduced them extensively in publicity and marketing material: however, this includes endorsements for specific books which Professor Marks had never read, nor heard of, nor approved. Professor Marks and his endorsement even made it into Patrick Holford’s CV for his position […]

  • […] by Dr Marks and Prof Tylee. [NB, in the course of writing this post, we checked the latest version of […]

  • […] we learned that Dr John Marks was startled to discover that an endorsement that he had given Patrick Holford in the late 70s or early 80s, is not allowed to lie sleeping in the grave but is being bruited […]

  • […] are still a mainstay of dodgy salesman.  One is reminded of the unauthorised citation of testimonials from Dr John Marks and Professor Jonathan Waxman by Patrick Holford to aid his sales of unnecessary vitamin […]

  • […] an event in Ireland. Using the resources of this blog, spot the errors. How very unfortunate for Dr John Marks – no matter how often he disclaims any endorsement of Patrick Holford, it lives on. In the UK he presents around 50 workshops and lectures a year. His knowledge, […]

  • […] Watch was not particularly impressed by Holford’s CV. Professor Colquhoun recently noted that Holford included a glowing endorsement from Dr John Marks in his application for a post as Visiting …. Except that Dr Marks had not communicated with Holford in approximately two decades and more and […]

  • […] medicine without the consent of the alleged supporter.  There was, for example, the strange case of Dr John Marks and Patrick […]

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