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Saturday, March 26, 2005
Hammesfahr’s “Nobel Prize Nomination”
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:29 am

Somehow I had missed the fact that one of the chief expert witnesses for the Schindlers, one William Hammesfahr, MD (whom I have mentioned by name once before) claims (you can see on his web site, as linked above) to have been nominated for a Nobel Prize in medicine.

I found this to be an interesting claim, so I did some research.

First off, I discovered that there is no official list of nominees that can be referenced and that the names are kept secret for fifty years.

Second, I discovered that Hammesfahr couldn’t have been nominated in the way he claims to have been nominated (insofar as the person he calims to have nominated him isn’t qualified to nominate).

Via the Nobel Foundation’s Frequently Asked Questions regarding the nomination process we find that:

3. Has X been nominated as a candidate for the Nobel Prize, or where do I find a list of Nobel Prize nominees?

According to the Statutes of the Nobel Foundation, information about the nominations is not to be disclosed, publicly or privately, for a period of fifty years. The restriction not only concerns the nominees and nominators, but also investigations and opinions in the awarding of a prize.

Hence, there is no way to confirm the claim, per se.

The best I could find via Lexis/Nexis is from a 2002 St. Petersburg Times story (10/15/02, p. 3b):

Hammesfahr said he was nominated for the prize by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Bilirakis, who wrote a letter to Stockholm recommending the doctor for the honor several years ago.

Here’s the letter.

However, if that is the basis of the claim, Dr. Hammesfahr has some ’splainin to do, because, according to The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine’s guidleines:

Right to submit proposals for the award of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, based on the principle of competence and universality, shall by statute be enjoyed by:

1. Members of the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm;
2. Swedish and foreign members of the medical class of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences;
3. Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine;
4. Members of the Nobel Committee not qualified under paragraph 1 above;
5. Holders of established posts as professors at the faculties of medicine in Sweden and holders of similar posts at the faculties of medicine or similar institutions in Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway;
6. Holders of similar posts at no fewer than six other faculties of medicine selected by the Assembly, with a view to ensuring the appropriate distribution of the task among various countries and their seats of learning; and
7. Practitioners of natural sciences whom the Assembly may otherwise see fit to approach.

As such, the best Hammesfahr can claim is that his Congressman sent a letter to someone in support of the idea of nominating him for the prize. He can’t claim to actually have been nominated. By that standard I could write a letter in support of William Shatner for the Nobel Peace Prize and then he could claim to have been nominated.

I also located his c.v., which is conspicuous for its lack of serious medical publications. Even worse, what “publications” he does list are all predominantly to an online “journal” where he serves on the editorial board. Indeed, his c.v. is one that is more puffery than substance (like listing awards first and speaking engagements before publications).

Keep in mind: this is one of the chief experts being relied upon to state that Terri can respond and can recover.

Filed under: Courts/the Judiciary | |Send TrackBack

Signifying Nothing linked with Disliking both sides of an argument


  1. Disliking both sides of an argument
    For most of the Terri Schiavo controversy, I’ve sided with the Schindlers. The ideal outcome, given that the daughter had the medical problems to begin with, would have been to let the parents take custody of her and have Michael…

    Trackback by Signifying Nothing — Saturday, March 26, 2005 @ 5:53 pm

  2. This guy’s resume is indeed a little bit on the light side. I do find it interesting that he spoke to the Society of Professional Journalists convention in the mid-80s on “how to avoid stress” and “how to avoid heart attacks.”

    Not one publication in NEJM or JAMA, at least? There are also, no doubt, journals related to neurological specialties.

    My mom worked for a doctor who was at U of Alabama at Birmingham and helped run some of the first tests on the treadmill with canines, so I’ve seen a high end c.v. up close before.

    Comment by bryan — Saturday, March 26, 2005 @ 6:59 pm

  3. I’ve seen a lot of CVs, albeit not medical ones. Still, when one of the first things listed is a “Who’s Who” award, red flags go up.

    Further, the fact that his pubs are almost exclusively for an online journal for which he edits is suspect beyond belief.

    Comment by Steven Taylor — Saturday, March 26, 2005 @ 7:48 pm

  4. Not only doesn’t Dr. Hammesfahr have any refereed publications, he hasn’t even presented a paper at a conference! He only “distributed” a paper at a conference, i.e., he stood out in the hall (or outside the building) and handed out copies. And he still claims to have been nominated for a Nobel Prize. HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa…

    Comment by Jeff Smith — Friday, April 1, 2005 @ 3:07 pm

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