Dr. Robert Malone’s life has been threatened

Dr. Robert Malone’s life has been threatened

This came from the Twitter account of Dr.Robert Malone


The following is from his wife, Jill

The History of how mRNA Vaccines were Discovered

“A lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots.”

—Mark Twain.

Robert Malone and I have been married for 42 years. Through ups and downs, good and bad, we have always been partners. Is this unique? No. Many people find a life partner; work and play together as a team. What maybe unique is our commitment to working together for the betterment of society. I am very lucky. Robert is brilliant. More than brilliant – he is someone that can take facts and use them to see into the future. Pattern recognition. This draws me like a butterfly to a flame.  As a life partner, I am vigilant in my protection of Robert – both of his reputation, his health and as a person. It is with that sense of needing to help shield him that I write this letter. Our careers are as independent researchers; we don’t have the luxury of an academic institution. Our consulting business and our philanthropic research relies on our support of each other.

As a young scientist, Robert saw into the future. He saw the future of RNA as a drug in 1987. Early in 1988, he foresaw the future of the use of mRNA for vaccination. He did this in the worst of situations. As a graduate student, without support of his thesis advisor and being in an abusive work/student environment. 

(If you want the whole, terrible story and history of the discoveries, I suggest you read my piece linked here). 

But this letter is not about that period so much as now. But a little back history is needed.

Robert is the inventor of mRNA vaccination. The documentation is clear. In 1986, while at the Salk Institute/UC San Diego as a MD (Northwestern)/PhD (Salk/UCSD) student, he worked with RNA for his dissertation. Early on this included structure and modeling analysis, but it soon expanded beyond that. In 1987, he invented naked and lipid mediated RNA transfection. in-vitro (1987) and in-vivo (1988) lipid mediated mRNA transfection were developed at the Salk/UCSD. But the situation in lab was not healthy, when the harassment got to the point, where Robert literally was diagnosed with severe PTSD from abuse at the hands of his thesis advisor and institutional attorneys, he knew he had to abandon his PhD and go back to Northwestern to finish his medical degree. His thesis advisor was the now infamous Dr. Inder Verma. Dr. Verma’s behavior abusing women and employees is now legendary and documented in both the scientific and lay press.

Robert left the university knowing that what he had invented would change the world someday. That he has never doubted.

Patent disclosures and a patent application were written and eventually filed on 3/21/89 for these technologies by the Salk. This included not only RNA transfection (RNA as a drug), but also technologies to stabilize the RNA and to increase production. Once it became clear that he would be leaving the Salk/UCSD, he stopped filing disclosures. So, he held on to the idea about RNA vaccination until he left the Salk. I have journal entries and he spoke with others about these ideas, so there is some documentation regarding this timeline. This resulted in the paper:

Cationic liposome-mediated RNA transfection RW Malone, PL Felgner, IM Verma. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 86 (16), 6077-6081

When he left, he brought his research, reagents, DNA constructs, RNA constructs, and all the knowledge of these systems, including the use of the luciferase reporter gene assay for these technologies, which only he had, and ported them all into a small company called Vical. He didn’t really have any other option financially. It wasn’t ideal. But big promises were made by his supervisor about freedom to continue his research uninterrupted, which was critical to him. He knew that he had to go back and finish medical school, this was just an interim gig to support us and to prove that his discoveries worked, while I finished my BA. For Robert, the only thing that mattered was the science. Not the money, not the fame. It was about saving the world.

Long story short, as the only employee at Vical working in gene therapy, he sat down and disclosed all of his ideas for gene therapy and maybe more importantly, for mRNA vaccination almost as soon as he started at Vical. His supervisor at the time, Dr. Felgner, then over-signed the disclosures on top of Robert’s signature. Then, because Vical did not have vivisection facilities, a collaboration was set up with the University of Wisconsin to do the animal studies. Robert sent reagents, DNA, RNA and instructions to the researcher (Dr. Jon Wolff) there via Fedex and animals were injected. The rest is history.

Direct gene transfer into mouse muscle in vivo. Wolff JA, Malone RW, et al. Science. 1990;247(4949 Pt 1):1465-8.

Robert then wrote more patent disclosures, which included RNA vaccination and stabilization. Vical set up talks with the Salk to license Robert’s technology. These patents all have a priority date of 3/21/1989. Important because this is also the date that the Salk filed their patent. Showing that the Salk and Vical were working together in this. At that point, Robert was assured that Vical would license the Salk patent – as this was prior art. 

As Robert’s supervisor soon took credit for much of his inventions, it was almost immediately clear that this short-term solution was just that. In August 1989, Robert went back to Northwestern to finish up medical school. He continued to support/consult for Vical without pay. He helped design the animal studies to prove that polynucleotide (DNA/RNA) worked in animal models. These experiments were conducted in 1989 and 1990 and there is documented data.

This seminal work, which occurred over five years (1986-1990). It is what has spawned the mRNA vaccination technologies now saving the world from COVID-19. There are papers and TEN issued patents, all with a priority date of 3/21/1989. THOSE PATENTS INCLUDE mRNA vaccination and there were vaccines studies to support those claims. The record is crystal clear.

So, Vical and the Univ of Wisconsin originally took credit. Then Vical sold the technology to Merck and then Merck took credit for the DNA vaccination. Vical and Merck didn’t have the expertise to make RNA after Robert left. Robert had pioneered tech to increase RNA production yield, but it came off of his bench, his protocols. No one had taken the time to learn the protocols from him while he was at Vical.

All this said, this discovery was so amazing, Robert’s passion for the work so far reaching, that ideas still pour out of him when discussing it. It is this enthusiasm and curiosity that make it so fun to be around Robert and what drives people to want to work with him. When working on a project, it is always about the project. Egos are left at the door.

The work at the Salk, at UCSD and at Vical was always about collaboration. Ideas, discussions, writings, editing, data, reagents, constructs – freely made, given and exchanged. That is when science is set free. When minds share – develop, expand, evolve ideas, hypothesizes. This is what drove Robert and I then and now. So many people worked on developing mRNA technologies and mRNA vaccines. Long after Robert left Vical, he still collaborated with people there. That is how good science works. It is what kept him tethered to Vical. Frankly, it is why he never pursued legal counsel in all of this. It is why he was consulted on data, why Dr. Gary Rhoades, who carried out the initial mRNA vaccination studies, but only put into patents, later worked with Robert in the 1990s. Science is one of the highest callings for man. There is always more to know, more to discover.

Fast forward 30 years…

So, imagine how disheartening it is over the course of the last year, to see others take credit for his work in the lay press. Then to see this article as the headliner by CNN yesterday was extremely upsetting:

Now proven against coronavirus, mRNA can do so much more

…The story of mRNA vaccines dates back to the early 1990s, when Hungarian-born researcher Katalin Kariko of the University of Pennsylvania started testing mRNA technology as a form of gene therapy. The idea is similar whether scientists want to use the mRNA molecule to cure disease or prevent it; send instructions to the cells of the body to make something specific.”

This is very long article extoling the “discoveries” by Katalin Kariko, while at the University of Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, this is just another egregious but highly successful endeavor whereby Dr. Kariko is cited as having invented these technologies. Because after interviewing her, the reporter somehow came away believing that she invented mRNA vaccination! Oh, but now her fame grows, with this article strongly suggesting that she also invented RNA as a drug! Each article becomes more strident in these assertions. Google “mRNA vaccine inventor” and guess whose name comes up, with her own Wiki page and all.  Wiki… yes, wiki is all about her also.

So, what does one do when someone’s work is not cited, when they are erased from history?

 It turns out there is nothing one can do. When a national newspaper gets it wrong, over the course of months – they won’t correct it. Even if one goes to the editor, the magazine, the newspaper or the journalist. Even if one writes about it on social media, etc. Yes, I and to some extent, Robert did all that. I have written, begged, pleaded, informed – all to no avail. Basically, we hit a stone wall. Either journalists denied it (“well, I said “others” worked on these technologies”) or we were ignored. But with time, each article seems to get more and more exaggerated about the Dr. Kariko “discoveries.”

So, why am I writing this? 

I guess at the very least to set the record straight with his friends. 

This was and is Robert’s work, his passion. He is thrilled that all these technologies are working. He is thrilled for his part in that. He freely credits that other people have worked to develop this. But to have poured his heart and soul into this – decades of work and to have someone else get credit for his work in the national press is demoralizing and disheartening. To note, Dr. Kariko has responded to us and admitted that she did not make these discoveries, only “improvements” to the technology. Improvement, which many companies, like Curevac are not using. She says that she tells reporters that many, many people helped make these discoveries… Which reminds me of the quote:

“A truth that’s told with bad intent

Beats all the lies you can invent.”

― William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

We literally have nothing to lose in this. Robert never received the money that Vical owed him. Heck, they never even admitted to owing him anything but a silver dollar. They never licensed his work from the Salk. The Salk dropped the patent applications without telling him. Vical threatened Robert with “cease and desist” letters, if he continued working in the field commercially or if he helped a commercial company with these technologies. We never were able to capture a single NIH or government grant for this work. This all happened thirty years ago, it is a terrible but old story. One that Robert likes to forget. It is not worth dredging up. 

But now, we kind of have to.

So, I write this to our friends. Understand that Robert is grieving. He invented the field of mRNA vaccination and the use of RNA as a drug. But the credit goes to others. This is painful. It is the erasing of his life’s work.

As someone who has been supporting him in this endeavor for eons, I know what developing these technologies has brought us. It is the opposite of what one might think. The legacy of these technologies for us has been: abuse, poverty, angst and being disempowered.

To move on, Robert will most likely stop writing and speaking about it. This is his way. He is embarrassed to “make a fuss.” 

I am not. I know that the American media has a “poster child,” in Dr. Kariko, who is actively being promoted to win a Nobel. There is a campaign going on. I know that Robert has no institutional support, no one to nominate him and no one did (nominations were due in Feb). So, Dr. Kariko, BioNTech and the University of PA do not have to worry. She has no competition from these quarters. She most likely has won. But her win must be cheapened by the fact that that she did not invent these technologies and the press has somehow been misled into believing that she did.

So in the end, I am afraid that the truth is…

If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”

― Walter Langer

One thought on “Dr. Robert Malone’s life has been threatened

  1. In the final analysis, Malone will probably be better off the walk away from getting credit for Mrna vaccines. He will eventually get his just rewards in promoting early treatment such as IVM.

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