Alton, IL

Late Illinois Doctor Allegedly Broke Testing Law

Story by WBGZ Radio

Dr. William HalfordA U.S. Senator from Iowa wants to know what health officials from the federal government and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine are doing about reports that a now deceased Illinois doctor tested vaccines on human subjects outside of the law.


Springfield-area Dr. William Halford died of nasal cancer last year, but Kaiser Health News first reported he conducted unsanctioned herpes vaccine tests on human subjects. The human testing was done in Springfield in 2013 and offshore in St. Kitts in 2016.


Halford was affiliated with the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.


Click here for summary


A Nov. 20, 2017, statement from SIU said Halford’s company, Rational Vaccines, was independent of SIU but did have an intellectual property license from SIU. That agreement said both Rational Vaccines and SIU are responsible for upholding all applicable laws and regulations.


“Because SIU was not involved in the St. Kitts clinical trial in any way and viewed it as the business operations of a private company, SIU did not feel that any discussion with Dr. Halford about the trial was warranted,” the statement said.


The statement went on to say the SIU Institutional Review Board began investigating the situation in July 2017. Their initial investigation determined serious noncompliance with regulatory requirements and institutional policies and procedures. A report was issued to the Office for Human Research Protections and the Food and Drug Administration. A separate SIU investigation is ongoing, the statement said.


The news caught the attention of U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. In a letter this month, he asked the same federal agencies what is being done about the alarming story.


“Halford may have violated nearly every requirement … and put individuals at extreme health risk,” Grassley wrote. “Halford reportedly administered an experimental vaccine to patients who were not enrolled in an approved study and therefore did not have the proper human subjects protections required by U.S. law. He also reportedly did not acquire written consent from the test subjects.”


University of Illinois Office of the Protection of Research Subjects Director Dr. Anita Balgopal couldn't speak to the specifics of Halford’s case but said not following oversight from an IRB is extremely dangerous when it comes to human tests.


“First and foremost, the danger is what is the risk that’s been put on that human participant and could something have been done to prevent that risk?” Balgopal said.


Balgopal said there are stringent checks in place for human testing for a reason, including subject informed-consent forms and eyes reviewing and overseeing the research.


“So it might seem like there are a lot of hoops to jump through,” Balgopal said. “But at the end of the day, we are looking out to protect the subjects as well as the researcher and the university.”


Grassley also wrote to SIU President Randy Dunn. A spokesperson for SIU said Thursday they will be responding to Grassley's letter.


Grassley is demanding to know what corrective action federal health officials and SIU officials have taken. He wants answers by Jan. 18.


(Copyright WBGZ Radio /


This site was created by
Copyright © 2018 Alton Daily News ยท WBGZ 1570 AM
227 Market St., Alton IL 62002 Phone: (618) 465-3535
EEO Report | Privacy Policy | Online Public File