JAMA crushes dissent and calls a critic a “nobody and a nothing”

Is the cover-up becoming worse than the proverbial crime?

According to the WSJ Health Blog, Jonathan Leo, a professor of neuro-anatomy from a small university in Tennessee, critiqued a study published in JAMA, and pointed out an association between the study’s author and a pharmaceutical company. He posted his thoughts on the website of the British Medical Journal.

None too happy, Leo then received calls from JAMA’s executive deputy editor Phil Fontanarosa, and surprisingly, editor-in-chief Catherine DeAngelis got involved by asking Leo’s superiors to retract his post from the BMJ’s site.

The WSJ called Dr. DeAngelis for comment, and this is how the interview went:

“This guy is a nobody and a nothing” she said of Leo. “He is trying to make a name for himself. Please call me about something important.” She added that Leo “should be spending time with his students instead of doing this.”

When asked if she called his superiors and what she said to them, DeAngelis said “it is none of your business.”

From this corner, this is a PR disaster for JAMA, and especially Dr. DeAngelis, who must have known she was on the record with a national newspaper.

Resorting to personal attacks is somewhat unbecoming of an editor-in-chief of a prestigious medical journal, and reflects poorly on JAMA.

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