We were perplexed. How could the University authorities claim to not know about their own registered study, their own requests for funding and then complain, one year later, that the university’s name had been referred to ‘without permission’ in an agreed and accurate Crowdfunder campaign.
We asked to see their ‘due diligence’ report. They provided nothing. We put in an official appeal. They replied “It is correct that for most university processes there will be an appeal process, ensuring that the University is accountable for the education it provides and the efficacy of its business processes. However, the right to accept funding is at the discretion of the institution. This ensures that the University is not required to undertake projects which are not a strategic priority. There is, therefore, no appeal process.”
So, despite being really keen last year, it appears it is no longer in the ‘strategic interest’ of the University to study What it does: Strengthens immune system – fights infections. Makes collagen, keeping bones, skin and joints firm and strong. Antioxidant, detoxifying pollutants and protecting against… in care homes and thus potentially discover how to save lives. Why not? They wouldn’t say.
What was the due diligence? Following a Freedom of Information request internal emails were discovered saying “Was the conversation and the reasons why we did not accept the donations recorded in any way? It may be that if we do not hold the information, then we can apply the exemption of “Information Not Held”…” The response is “There is no due diligence report, it was a conversation with Bhatty and Liz Rattray”. So, there was no ‘due diligence’, just an unrecorded conversation that wipes out a critical study and two years’ work of the research team with zero explanation for this decision. Despite knowing full well there was no ‘due diligence’, just a biased decision not to study vitamin C in care homes, Batty and Rattray approve the statement ‘the conclusion of our internal due diligence… is the University is not in a position to accept this donation’ which they had requested, received, accepted and sat on for six months.
Bhatty and Rattray are responsible for blocking the study
Who are Bhatty and Rattray? Bhatty is Dr Siladitya Bhattacharya, who is head of medicine at the University,and Dr Liz Rattray is head of ‘research and innovation’. One would think such research is vital and innovative and medically essential. Yet, for no reason at all, let alone a good reason, these two wanted the funds returned and hence the study was unable to proceed. We asked for a letter of explanation and apology to share with all the donors who gave money in good faith. None has been provided.
‘Politics over Science’
Professor Jeanne Drisko, Professor of Orthomolecular Medicine at the University of Kansas, who had helped raise a substantial part of the funds from a US charity, aptly replied: “politics over science”. Professor Phyo Myint said “It was equally disappointing for me.” But, having pursued every means possible to have the study continue we have to conclude it is not going to happen and have, regretfully, had to accept back the funds.
If you made a donation to fund this study through Crowdfunder we are contacting them to provide donor email details so we can then contact you to return your donations, or, if you wish, we could put the funds towards other research that cannot be cancelled. I am focussing almost all of my energy through the charitable Food for the Brain Foundation to make the prevention of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s, which is largely a preventable disease, a reality. (See last week’s article in the Daily Mail ‘Three quarters of dementia cases are preventable’ based on research by two of our scientific advisors.)
Over 400,000 people have taken foodforthebrain.org’s free online Cognitive Function Test and many have also completed a diet and lifestyle ‘Dementia Risk Index’ questionnaire, which they redo every six months.
The charity is now working with leading brain and behaviour change experts to research what the most important diet and lifestyle changes that prevent cognitive decline are. The second phase of this research is to then identify, and put into action, the most effective means to encourage people to make those changes. This is a £200,000 study, phased over two years, so the funds raised for VitaC4Care could help get this research started.
If you’d like to support this with a £50 donation become a Friend of Food for the Brain. If you did already donate £50 or more to VitaC4care and wish to support this research we will make you a Friend.(* see list of donors below). We raised £9,000 and need £10,000 to start, thus engaging Dr Kristina Curtis’s excellent at appliedbehaviourchange.com. Donations, with Gift Aid, can also be made here. If everyone agreed to have their donations go to this research we are only £1,000 short.
We are deeply sad and sorry that this has happened, embarrassed that we asked you to fund a study that has now been cancelled, and angry that, as Professor Drisko says ‘politics wins over science’. That the University’s head of medicine thinks that protecting people in care homes by knowing what amount of vitamin C is needed to prevent deficiency, is not a priority beggars belief.
I have personally written to Dr Siladitya Bhattacharya, head of medicine at the University (just moving to Cardiff), and Dr Liz Rattray who is head of research and innovation, to express my tremendous disappointment. You can see my letter below. You may wish to express to them your own views
The study could, of course, happen elsewhere but the ethics approval and so on is attached to the University of Aberdeen, hence the process would have start from scratch.
Did You Donate?
Firstly, if so, thank you for supporting this project. We have the following names of donors (see below). If you are one of them please let us know whether you:
Either wish us to transfer the funds to Food for the Brain’s research
Return to you, in which case we need your bank account details (account number and sort code)
By writing to email@example.com
*28 of the donations were ‘anonymous’. If you were an ‘anonymous’ donor, and would like your money back, please tell us how much you donated, and on what date (from your bank statement) so we can identify you and give us your bank account details.
My email to Bhatty and Rattray
Dear Professor Bhatty and Dr Rattray
I am writing to express my extreme disappointment at your decision to not accept the requested funds, and thus cancel the vital VitaC4Care study to establish what intake of vitamin C is required for those in care homes to achieve vitamin C sufficiency which is so vital for immune support. This would have been a world-first study led by the University of Aberdeen. Why did you make this decision? What would change your mind? It is not in the interests of anyone in care homes to cancel this study. Is this innovative research not a medical priority? Also, why did you not raise your objection at the time the study was going through IRAS, ethics approval and clinicaltrials.gov registration?
Everyone involved in the study – Professors Phyo Myint, Anita Carr and Dr Alan Sneedon and representatives of NHS Grampian were fully aware that vitaminc4covid, a Community Interest Company, were charged with raising the funds. Everything the CIC said about the study was accurate. We had complete transparency across those involved at every level of the project. Your objection that ‘permission’ to refer to those involved had not been granted is unfounded. In any event, I am not aware of anything said that was not accurate.
Is there any way you would reconsider your decision? Both the US charity and the CIC would happily return the funds to get this trial happening. Is there any good reason not to?
If the answer is ‘no’ then I do not understand the basis of your decision and am most concerned that it was said to be the outcome of ‘due diligence’ when we have been given no evidence of any due diligence at all. The study lead, Professor Phyo Myint, is equally disappointed. Once again I ask for a legitimate explanation of your decision which I can share with the over a hundred donors who gave money. My deadline for your response is Friday 13th October. After that we are obliged to contact each of the donors, and also let our 90,000 supporters know what has happened and explain why it has happened.
I do, of course, remain available if you wish to discuss this matter further.
Former CEO of VitaminC4covid – a community interest company.
Crowdfunder donors for Vita4Care study
Karen de Yermo
Robert G Smith
Sue Evans Bosket
Joanne C Mordue
Veronica L Daly
Michael Mc Laughlin
…plus 28 anonymous donors