The Wallach RevolutionThe Citizens Committee for Better Medicine is proud to present “The Wallach Revolution – (An Unauthorized Biography of a Medical Genius)”. The book is now available and chronicles the challenges, successes, and unique perspective of Dr. Joel D Wallach, a true pioneer in the field of science-based, clinically verified medical nutrition. (No portion of the content on this site may be exhibited, used or reproduced by any means without express written permission of the publisher.) Click HERE to get your copy of this brand new book!
Chapter 6 Page 9
The Cystic Fibrosis Discovery Suppressed by Yerkes Primate Center
The Director of the Yerkes Center moved quickly to reverse media attention on the Wallach discovery and isolate him. Rather than give credence to Dr. Wallach’s discovery and refer to it as a scientific find worth further research and debate (something they could have done even were they skeptical of his discovery), the Yerkes team rallied scientists to condemn the finding, even rewriting history by denying key facts first communicated in Emory University’s own press release.
In the Times Daily of December 1, 1978, there appeared the following:
The director of the Yerkes Primate Research Center Tuesday denied the claim of a St. Louis veterinary pathologist that the center had discovered a cure for cystic fibrosis.
Dr. Frederick A. King said the prestigious center had never even looked for a cure for the disease, one of childhood’s deadliest.
“Unfortunately, there is no known cure for cystic fibrosis,” said King. The national headquarters of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in Atlanta also issued a denial the disease could be prevented or cured.
Dr. Joel D. Wallach held a news conference at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago last weekend to announce that medical science had found the answer to cystic fibrosis.
Wallach said the disease, long thought to be a genetic disorder, is caused by a nutritional deficiency during pregnancy and can be cured. He said it also could be prevented by proper diet and that autopsies and tests of thousands of monkeys at the Yerkes Primate Research Center in Atlanta supported his theory.
King said Wallach was assistant pathologist at Yerkes in 1977-78 and that during that time the death of one monkey revealed lesions of the pancreas resembling those of cystic fibrosis. He said that whether this single case represents or is even similar to cystic fibrosis in humans “remains to be proven.”
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At his news conference, Wallach said the disease was caused by a lack of selenium, a trace element during the first three months of pregnancy. It can be prevented, he said, and also cured—by surgery in some cases and selenium in others.
The official condemnation of Wallach’s discovery burdened him for years. It led many to shun association with him for fear of its effect on receipt of federal funding and peer disapprobation. Ironically, at the same time efforts to make Wallach a pariah in the academic world were preventing him from securing professional employment, he was offered invitation after invitation from government and academic centers all over the world to give lectures on his discoveries. While those audiences gave Wallach standing ovations, he left to return home to haul scrap metal for his dad. Although he could not find a job in his profession, he was offered lecture opportunity after lecture opportunity because peers were intrigued by his findings.
Wallach’s discovery fascinated academics but offended the status quo and, without Yerkes to back him (and instead with Yerkes condemning him), he lacked the institutional support to obtain steady academic employment. He had become persona non grata in the veterinary academic world and among the nation’s research centers and zoos. Wallach had planned a career in veterinary pathology. Now, wherever he turned for work, whether at zoos or in academia, the Yerkes’ condemnation stood in the way. In the world of veterinary science, Wallach had become a man without a country. He would have to reinvent himself. There was no alternative. But Wallach would not abandon his central mission; he could not do that and remain true to himself. Instead, he would abandon his chosen profession and enter another.