THE GREATER GOOD interviews leading authorities on vaccines and vaccine safety. Equal consideration is given to the doctors and scientists who advocate for universal vaccination, in addition to those who persistently ask probing questions about regulation and administration.
Barbara Loe Fisher
co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center and co-author of the 1985 book DPT: A Shot in the Dark, has advocated for public education and the ethical principle of informed consent regarding mandatory vaccination policies. Her interest in the issue began after her two and a half year old son suffered a severe reaction to his fourth DPT shot in 1980 resulting in permanent brain injury that left him with multiple learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder. She worked with Congress on the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 and served on the federal National Vaccine Advisory Committee (1988-1992); Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Forum (1995-1998); FDA Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (1999-2002); CDC’s Vaccine Policy Analysis Collaborative (2002-2005); and has testified in Congress and in state legislatures on vaccine safety and exemption issues.
Paul Offit, MD
is a highly esteemed infectious disease doctor, vaccine patent holder, Merck consultant and the most vocal vaccine advocate in America today. As he walks the halls of the prestigious Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Offit wants only to help children, and he is a staunch believer in the ideal of THE GREATER GOOD. He reflects on the dark days when polio was widespread, and when it comes to vaccine policy, he says candidly that parents are not in the best position to choose what is right for their children.
In his book, Autism’s False Prophets, Dr. Offit condemns many who have linked vaccines to autism—an issue that has co-opted the spotlight from the larger issue of vaccine safety—and expresses optimism for the future of the national vaccine program.
Lawrence B. Palevsky, MD, FAAP
is a board certified pediatrician who utilizes a holistic approach to children’s wellness and illness. Dr. Palevsky received his medical degree from the NYU School of Medicine in 1987, completed a three-year pediatric residency at The Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC in 1990, and served as a pediatric fellow in the ambulatory care out-patient department at Bellevue Hospital, NYC, from 1990-1991. Since 1991, his clinical experience includes working in pediatric emergency and intensive care medicine, in-patient and out-patient pediatric medicine, neonatal intensive care medicine, newborn and delivery room medicine, and conventional, holistic and integrative pediatric private practice at the Center for Health & Healing- an integrative and complementary care medical facility affiliated with the Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC, and at the Northport Wellness Center in Long Island, and in Manhattan. Dr. Palevsky is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, co-founder and President of the Holistic Pediatric Association and Past–President of the American Holistic Medical Association. Additionally, he teaches holistic integrative pediatric & adolescent medicine to parents, and medical and allied health professionals, both nationally & internationally.
Norman W. Baylor, MD
is the Director of the Office of Vaccines Research and Review in the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. Prior to his position as Director, Dr. Baylor served as Deputy Director of OVRR and Associate Director for Regulatory Policy. He received his B.S. degree in medical microbiology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in microbial genetics and molecular microbiology, respectively from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Baylor also currently serves as FDA’s liaison to CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the DHHS National Vaccine Advisory Committee and the Advisory Commission for Childhood Vaccines. Dr. Baylor has also served as an expert advisor to the World Health Organization on several global vaccine initiatives. He has been with the FDA for nearly 18 years.
Kevin P. Conway, Esquire
Since 1988, Kevin Conway’s firm has limited its practice to representing persons in the Federal Vaccine Compensation Program. During this time, the firm’s efforts have resulted in millions of dollars in awards for the firm’s clients. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Georgetown University Law Center, Conway’s past legal experience includes serving as counsel for the New York/New Jersey Waterfront Crime Commission, CBS News, and the CBS Television and Radio Networks. He then served as general counsel for Cives Steel Corporation. He was Barry Reed’s partner when Mr. Reed wrote The Verdict (made into a movie starring Paul Newman), based upon the medical malpractice trial of one of the firm’s clients. Conway was also a partner at Schlichtmann, Conway & Crowley during the noted “Woburn Trial,” when the firm represented eight children with leukemia, allegedly caused by drinking wells contaminated by WR Grace and Beatrice Foods. The suit formed the basis of Jonathan Harr’s book, A Civil Action, required reading in many law schools, and the movie, A Civil Action starring John Travolta (actor Tony Shalhoub played Conway in the movie). Conway has served on the Vaccine Program’s Mediation Committee and is a present member of the Program’s Process Committee. His firm tried and briefed, and Kevin argued, recent Federal Circuit Vaccine Program decisions in Althen v. Secretary of Health and Human Services (2005), Capizzano v. Secretary of Health and Human Services (2006), and Zatuchni v. Secretary of Health and Human Services (2008). He is an adjunct professor of business law at Boston College.
Renee Gentry, JD
joined Shoemaker & Associates in October 2001. She received her Juris Doctorate from Washington University Law School in 1995, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science/History from Drake University in 1992. She is licensed to practice law in Missouri and the District of Columbia, and is admitted to the Federal Claims Court Bar.
John Green, MD
has been in medical practice for 36 years with a background in emergency, family practice, environmental and holistic medicine and allergies. He is a fellow in the American Academy of Environmental Medicine and American Holistic Medical Association. Dr. Green’s primary focus is on work with ASD children, caring for more than 2,000 children with autism. His work is leading and following parents to the best path of healing for their children.
Diane Harper, MD, MPH, MS
is a Professor in the Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Community & Family Medicine at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. She received the American Cancer Society Cancer Control Career Development Award, which allowed her to attend Stanford University to complete her Master’s of Public Health thesis. Her research interests include women’s health issues, with specific emphasis on HPV-associated diseases: the prevention, screening, immunology, early diagnosis, treatment and communication of these areas.
Mark B. Feinberg, MD, PH.D, FACP
is Vice President for Medical Affairs and Policy for Merck Vaccines and Infectious Diseases at Merck & Co., Inc., and is responsible for global efforts to implement vaccines and infectious disease therapies to achieve the greatest individual and public health benefits. Prior to joining Merck in 2004, Dr. Feinberg worked for over 20 years in both academia and government where he was actively engaged in basic and clinical research, patient care and health care policy–with a primary focus on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. Dr. Feinberg is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the Association of American Physicians, and the recipient of an Elizabeth Glaser Scientist Award from the Pediatric AIDS Foundation and an Innovation in Clinical Research Award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Dr. Feinberg has also served as a consultant to, and a member of, several committees of the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) and the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Feinberg currently serves as co-chair of the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research’s Prevention Research Advisory Group and as a member of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC), the IOM Forum on Microbial Threats, the External Advisory Board of the HIV Vaccine Trial Network (HVTN) and the Board of Trustees of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).
Walter Orenstein, MD
is retired from his 26-year career at CDC where he led the National Immunization Program, a $1.6 billion effort with more than 450 staff dedicated to reducing vaccine preventable disease around the world including elimination of some of the greatest causes of childhood mortality and disability. He recently took a position at the Gates Foundation. Dr. Orenstein co-edits Vaccines, 4th edition, the leading textbook in the field. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society. He has served on the Council of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, chaired its publications committee, and is currently the Secretary/Treasurer.
Stanley Plotkin, MD
is an American physician who currently works as an adviser at pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur. In the 1960s, he played a pivotal role in discovery of a vaccine against rubella virus and co-developed other vaccines while working at Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. His book, Vaccines, is the standard reference. Over the course of his career he has served as senior assistant surgeon with the Epidemic Intelligence Service, United States Public Health Service; director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; associate chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania; and medical and scientific director of Aventis Pasteur.
Robert W. Sears, MD
is board-certified in Pediatrics, and a co-author in the Sears Parenting Library. “Dr. Bob,” as he likes to be called by his little patients, earned his medical degree at Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1995. He did his pediatric internship and residency at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, finishing in 1998. Dr. Bob practices a unique approach to pediatrics by providing a combination of alternative and traditional medical care. By limiting antibiotic use, using science-based natural treatment approaches whenever possible, and focusing on good nutrition and immune system health, Dr. Bob takes preventative medicine to a whole new level. His commitment to breastfeeding success for all his patients also helps babies get a right start in life.
Dr. Bob has a particular passion for helping parents understand childhood vaccines and the options open to them in choosing the safest possible vaccine schedule for their child. As the solo author of The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child, his in-depth knowledge of vaccines and the diseases they prevent has helped parents nationwide get a better understanding of this complex and confusing issue. Dr. Bob has appeared on several television shows to offer advice on child behavior and parenting issues. He is a frequent speaker at La Leche League conferences, including the International LLL Conference 2007 as well as various parenting health expos. He has written for Contemporary Pediatrics, Newsweek Japan, and dozens of regional parenting magazines across the nation.
Christopher Shaw, PhD
is a Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of British Columbia and holds cross appointments with the Department of Experimental Medicine and the Graduate Program in Neuroscience. He is the author of more than 100 peer-reviewed articles as well as numerous book chapters and special reviews. Shaw has edited four books on neuroscience themes. The main focus of his research has been on the Guamanian neurological disease spectrum, ALS-parkinsonism dementia complex (ALS-PDC). Recent work in the laboratory has developed animal models of the disease that are able to recapitulate all the essential behavioral and pathological features. The model is also being used to understand gene-toxin interactions, define neurodegeneration pathways involved, and to attempt therapeutic interventions at early, mid and late time points. Work in the laboratory also provided one of the first models of aluminum adjuvant-induced neuropathology and these studies have become a new research direction. He is the founder and a former director of Neurodyn, a biotechnology company based out of Prince Edward Island. Neurodyn’s efforts are directed at early phase detection and treatment for age-related neurological disorders.
Cliff Shoemaker, JD
graduated from the Drake University Law School in 1973 with a law degree (JD) and masters in business administration (M.B.A.). He received a Masters of Law from the George Washington University Law School in 1977 and has been practicing law for over 32 years. Shoemaker’s specialties of practice include vaccine injuries and he has represented hundreds of petitioners under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Act. Today, Shoemaker represents many of the 4,900 families suing the U.S. government over vaccines that contained mercury and may have caused their children’s autism. He was the lawyer in the Hannah Poling case where the U.S. government conceded vaccines caused Hannah Poling’s autism.
Melinda Wharton, MD
is Deputy Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) (formerly the National Immunization Program (NIP)) at the CDC. She holds an MD from Harvard Medical School and an MPH from Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. In 1989, she joined CDC as a Medical Epidemiologist in the Epidemiology Program Office. She joined the NIP in 1992, holding Chief positions in the Infant Immunization Section, Surveillance, Investigations, and Research Branch, and the Child Vaccine Preventable Diseases Branch, Epidemiology and Surveillance Division, and serving as Director, Epidemiology and Surveillance Division. In January 2004 she became Acting Deputy Director of NIP. Dr. Wharton has authored or co-authored more than 80 scientific pieces.