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Protandim Skin Cancer Review’s Lead Author is a Grad Student

[The following is a guest post from Vogel...]

Another knee-slapper regarding Protandim’s laughable research. Watch as the story unfolds…

Three of the published articles on Protandim (2 studies on skin cancer in mice, and one review article on the same topic) featured someone named Delira Robbins as an author.

  1. Robbins D, Zhao Y. The role of manganese superoxide dismutase in skin cancer. Enzyme Res. 2011;2011:409295. Epub 2011 Mar 23.
  2. Robbins D, Gu X, Shi R, Liu J, Wang F, Ponville J, McCord JM, Zhao Y. The chemopreventive effects of Protandim: modulation of p53 mitochondrial translocation and apoptosis during skin carcinogenesis. PLoS One. 2010 Jul 30;5(7):e11902.
  3. Liu J, Gu X, Robbins D, Li G, Shi R, McCord JM, Zhao Y. Protandim, a fundamentally new antioxidant approach in chemoprevention using mouse two-stage skin carcinogenesis as a model. PLoS One. 2009;4(4):e5284.

[Note: Here’s a video of McCord hyping up 2 of these studies at a Protandim distributor meeting.]

The most recent Protandim publication, featuring Robbins as primary author, was a review article (not actual research) on skin cancer, in which the product was hyped as a potential remedy. This study was leveraged by LFVN, who used it as PR fodder, blasting the news about the study in a corporate press release earlier this year.

In September 2010, LFVN also sent out a corporate PR blast about one of Robbins’ other studies (the one published in the crap online pseudo-journal PLoSOne), in which the company claimed that the study was funded by Louisiana State University.

Now here’s the punch-line. Delira Robbins is a grad student whose highest degree certification to date is a Bachelors of Science.

So in other words, this so-called expert who wrote this allegedly epic review article on Protandim and skin cancer, and authored/executed those 2 allegedly earth-shattering studies in mice, is a non-expert; she’s a simple science grad student at Louisiana State U with no legitimate expert credentials.

My strong hunch is that Delira Robbins' doctoral research, which appears to be focused solely on Protandim, is being funded by LFVN, either directly from a stipend or indirectly through funds paid to her supervisor Yunfeng Zhao.

Interestingly, I saw a couple of job ads that Zhao had recently posted for postdoctoral research fellows. (Notice how poor the salary is - sad.)

I checked the NIH grant database and it shows that no grants were awarded to Zhao, so I wonder where he’s getting the money to hire a post-doc, and whether that post-doc will be relegated to conjuring up more BS to feed LFVN’s PR spin doctors.

[Editor's Conclusion: This seems to be sound research and backs up what Protandim Inventor Paul Myhill said about encouraging research]

Originally posted 2011-08-23 04:32:00.

This post involves:

LifeVantage Lies, Protandim Studies

... and focuses on:

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10 Responses to “Protandim Skin Cancer Review’s Lead Author is a Grad Student”
  1. Julian J Javier Says:

    Dr Louis Pasteur was a grad student once. Every scientist and researcher was a grad student before they became doctors.

  2. Protandim Scams Says:

    If one is to take the study seriously it is worth knowing the experience-level of the person implementing the study.

    Let’s say your favorite basketball team needed to depend on a player for the championship game. Would you pick the high school version of Brian Scalabrine or would you pick Michael Jordan in his prime? You could say that both were high school students, but they aren’t comparable athletes with comparable skills or experience at all.

    This is the comparison you are making when comparing Delira Robbins and Dr. Louis Pasteur. We can’t presume that because both were grad students at one point, they are equivalent doctors with equivalent experience.

    Furthermore, grad students also tend to live poorly – since they typically can’t support a full-time job in addition to their studies. This would make them more likely to be influenced by under the counter payments. The NCAA has seen quite a lot of that in sports. I’m not making the claim that it happened here, because proving such things are impossible without access to a full financial audit, but it is certainly plausible. A wise consumer would ask, “If the product has real potential, why do they have to resort to grad students to create these studies? Why aren’t these being published in New England Journal of Medicine by reputable researchers?”

  3. Vogel Says:

    “Dr Louis Pasteur was a grad student once. Every scientist and researcher was a grad student before they became doctors.”

    Very poor logic. Pasteur and every scientist/researcher was 12 years old once too. Does that mean it’s OK to have a 12 year-old running your research program?

    BTW, Pasteur is a particularly poor example to have chosen for this analogy. He was in his 60s when his first vaccine was administered.

  4. Charles Says:

    Says here Deleria Robbins is a PHD and graduated in 2005; http://www.lsus.edu/about-lsus/why-lsus/our-alumni/delira-robbinsphd • St. Jude Postdoctoral Fellowship 2012
    • James A. Cardelli Award for Excellence in Cancer Research 2012
    • Society for Free Radical Biology & Medicine
    • Travel Award (Atlanta, GA) 2011
    • AACR Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award 2011
    • Travel Award (Boston, MA)
    • South Central Chapter – Society of Toxicology (SOT)
    • Regional Graduate Oral Presentation Award 2011
    • AACR Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award 2011
    • Travel Award (Orlando, FL)
    • South Central Chapter – Society of Toxicology (SOT)
    • Regional Graduate Poster Session Award 2010
    • Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society 2000-2005
    • National Dean’s List, Outstanding Academic Performance 2000-2004
    • Yale School of Medicine Minority Medical Education Program 2003

  5. protandimscams Says:

    Charles, when I click on that link, it says Page Not Found? What about the information presented in the article that seems to clearly state she is graduate student?

  6. Vogel Says:

    This schedule from LSU explicitly identifies Robbins as a graduate student as of 2012 and lists the planned date of her PhD dissertation defense as April 17 of that year.

    There’s no uncertainty about it.

  7. Susan Says:


    Just thought you’d like to know that they’re still at it, this time with a different researcher, Dr. Cherie-Ann Nathan.

  8. Vogel Says:

    That’s an important tip. Thanks for the heads-up. I noticed that the ad mentions research on curcumin and “natural products” but doesn’t specifically mention Protandim or LifeVantage by name. However, even on the surface it seems there is good reason to suspect a connection.

    The researcher who placed the ad (Cherie-Ann Nathan, an otolaryngologist) is affiliated with LSU Shreveport; this is the same affiliation as that of the co-authors (along with McCord from U. Colorado) on 3 previous studies on Protandim — i.e., Delira Robbins, a mere student at the time, and Zhao, her supervisor. Robbins was lead author on a silly misleading review paper (published in Enzyme Research, a bottom-rung crap journal) that positioned Protandim as a cancer therapy.

    I also found evidence that another researcher at LSU Shreveport (Heather Kleiner-Hancock) is putting students (e.g. Allison Duggan) to work on projects for LifeVantage (1 — see p. 6: ‘Awards & Honors’; see also 2, 3).

    1. http://www.feistweiller.org/clientuploads/Newsletters/Fall%202012.pdf
    2. http://undergraduateresearch.osu.edu/kudos/
    3. http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/meeting_abstract/26/1_MeetingAbstracts/1118.5?sid=1577e5a1-8dff-414b-9bac-29ef02a59bc3

    One detail in the ad for the postdoc position that really caught my eye was this:

    “These projects are being supported by NIH/NCI RO1 grants and intramural grants.”

    NIH/NCI never approved funding of any research on Protandim and never would. Nathan’s RO-1 grant (awarded in 2013) is for research completely unrelated to Protandim.

    If that RO1 grant is used to finance research for LifeVantage, it could be a criminal offense. I might have to investigate this further and bring it to the attention of the NIH and HHS OIG.

  9. Vogel Says:

    The onerous practice of assigning students to execute shoddy research on LifeVantage’s worthless product has been going on under Joe McCord’s supervision since at least as far back as 2008, when McCord had a Sienna college undergraduate student by the name of Elizabeth Akin working on one of his projects. She was required to present an overview of her project (titled: “Protandim (a blend of phytochemicals) uses cell signaling pathways to induce the ARE in a synergistic and dose dependent manner”) at a small student symposium in 2008

    Sadly, this work appears to have been sponsored using misdirected funds from the University of Colorado’s Cancer Research Summer Fellowship Program. Under the terms of the program, the student gets a $2600 stipend for completing a 10-week program, attending 2 lectures per week and delivering a poster presentation at the end.

    There are several reasons why this information is disturbing. It is yet another example of how McCord roped in ordinary low-level students and delegated the responsibilities for conducting the LifeVantage “research program” to them. It is a shocking abuse of authority; it deprives students of the opportunity to do legitimate worthwhile research; and it tars students by affiliating them, unwittingly, with a fraudulent enterprise. This all reflects very poorly on the academic institution and on the fellowship program that such abuse of power and mistreatment of students was allowed to transpire under their watch. Lastly, this study was never published; it might be possible that some of the data ended up appearing in one of the company’s published studies, but if it did, Akin was never credited.

    I also found an interesting entry in the CV of a physician (Yolanda R. Helfrich) about an alleged Protandim research project bearing the title: “The ability of a combination of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) and Protandim to induce antioxidant enzymes in red blood cells and skin: a pilot study. The date listed for the study is 2007-2008 and Helfrich is listed as the principal investigator. Now, 5+ years later, the damning part for LifeVantage is that this alleged study never saw the light of day (i.e., wasn’t published in a scientific journal). Wonder why? Suppression of negative data would be a good bet.

  10. Vogel Says:

    Found a few more examples of graduate students (i.e., non-PhD holders) authoring research on Protandim. Nelliie Reuland was an author on 3 Protandim studies from 2012-2013 (primary author on two of them):

    1. Reuland DJ, Khademi S, Castle CJ, Irwin DC, McCord JM, Miller BF, Hamilton KL. Upregulation of phase II enzymes through phytochemical activation of Nrf2 protects cardiomyocytes against oxidant stress. Free Radic Biol Med. 2013 Mar;56:102-11.
    2. Donovan EL, McCord JM, Reuland DJ, Miller BF, Hamilton KL. Phytochemical activation of Nrf2 protects human coronary artery endothelial cells against an oxidative challenge. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2012;2012:132931.
    3. Reuland DJ, McCord JM, Hamilton KL. The role of Nrf2 in the attenuation of cardiovascular disease. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2013 Jul;41(3):162-8.

    According to this webpage from CSU, Reuland was still just a PhD student (not a PhD holder) as of mid-2013, and so were her coauthors Shadi Khademi and Elise Donovan. http://www.chhs.colostate.edu/news/item/?ID=1555

    These students were being supervised by Karen L. Hamilton and Benjamin F. Miller, who also were listed as coauthors on the studies. This research group openly bragged about how they persuaded LifeVantage to give them money.

    In summary, we see that the research on Protandim was conducted primarily by students and paid for by LifeVantage. The facts run counter to the company’s claims that their research is independent and conducted by top scientists.

    Another interesting finding is that the study on the effects of cardiomyocytes was originally published as an abstract (see abstract #13 at the link below) for the 2011 meeting of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine (RMACSM):

    Donovan EL, McCord JM, Miller BF, Hamilton KL. Treatment of human coronary artery endothelial cells with Protandim induces Nrf2 and phase II antioxidants enzymes and affords protection against an oxidative challenge.

    Notice that the title of this study is almost identical to the title of the full article published in 2013:

    Donovan EL, McCord JM, Reuland DJ, Miller BF, Hamilton KL. Phytochemical activation of Nrf2 protects human coronary artery endothelial cells against an oxidative challenge. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2012;2012:132931.

    However, there’s one notable difference. Reuland’s name suddenly appeared in the author list for the full study when it hadn’t been there in the 2011 abstract. It therefore looks like she was added as an afterthought.

    Apparently, there’s been quite a bit of deception going on regarding the funding (studies were initiated and paid for by LifeVantage), independence (not independent by any stretch), and execution (by students) of the Protandim research to date. The lie about Harvard being involved is another great example.


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