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
Dr Marks appears again in a 2004 press release at on Holford’s site.
“Monday 25 October 2004
OPTIMUM NUTRITION UK SURVEY
Britainâ€™s Largest â€“ 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
” 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.