MMR vaccine doctor Andrew Wakefield quits autism centre

Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor whose research triggered a health scare over the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, has resigned from the autism center he founded in Texas, The Guardian reported Feb. 18.

His resignation follows disciplinary hearings at the General Medical Council in London last month. It ruled that he acted dishonestly and irresponsibly over a 1998 paper in the Lancet medical journal in which claimed to have found a link between the MMR vaccine, bowel disease and autism.

The research prompted a slump in the number of children administered the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. At the time of his research Wakefield was working at the Royal Free hospital school in London.

In 2005 Wakefield, 53, established the autism center Thoughtful House in Austin, Texas, while his research came under increasing scrutiny in the United Kingdom.

Thoughtful House said Wakefield had left his post voluntarily to avoid the controversy overshadowing the center's work.

"The needs of the children we serve must always come first. All of us at Thoughtful House are grateful to Dr. Wakefield for the valuable work he has done here," the clinic said in a press release.

"We fully support his decision to leave in order to make sure the recent GMC findings did not interfere with the ­important work that our team of clinicians and researchers is doing on behalf of children with autism."

Initially Thoughtful House stood behind Wakefield despite the GMC's ruling on Jan. 28, saying it was disappointed by the "unfounded and unfair" charges made against him and two colleagues.