Monday, December 10, 2012

Is Melba Ketchum a "Real" Doctor?
This post is in answer to the claims that I have seen circulating regarding Dr. Melba Ketchum not being a "real" Doctor, and not being qualified to perform a genetic study.  So let's take a look at what it takes to become a Veterinarian in the United States, and what "Title" that entitles one, pun intended, to use.  Currently in this country to be accepted into Veterinarian School you have to have completed a 4 year degree in a scientific discipline (Bachelor of Science) as well as fulfilling other qualifications of grade point average, character, experience, and potential, just like Medical School.  Sometimes a person is admitted without a 4-year science degree if they have other outstanding experience or qualifications, but this is the exception.  Vet school takes 4 years, just like Medical School, upon which many Vets then take internships/residencies, just like Medical School, if they want to specialize in a certain area of medicine or kind of practice, but unlike Medical School completion of a “Residency” is not a requirement. Many Vets specialize in certain areas such as Nutrition, or Radiology, or Genetics, just like regular Doctors. This can entail doing specialized work while in Vet school or completing Masters or Ph.D. programs concurrently or after Vet school.  At my time attending and working at U.C. Davis, which has a School of Veterinary Medicine, I knew many Vets who chose to go into research or teaching, instead of practicing medicine.  This is true of some Medical Doctors as well.  In the United States Veterinarians receive a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, which makes them “Doctors”.  They then have to pass a State Board of Examination in order to practice in the state of their choice, just like Medical Doctors.  
Are the requirements in Texas the same or as stringent as other states?  Maybe not.  Were the Texas requirements the same at the time of Dr. Ketchum’s acceptance and completion of her degree as they are now? (Current Texas A&M Vet School Prerequisites).  Perhaps not.  Would Dr. Ketchum be able to pass the California State Board of Veterinary Medicine?  Possibly not.  Are her Texas State Board Qualifications currently up to date?  What were her pre and post Veterinary School degrees in, and do they exist?  I have looked into these questions and what I have found so far from the Texas A&M Alumni Office are as follows:  Dr. Ketchum Graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1976, and was part of the Graduating Class of 1978 receiving a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.  Those dates would indicate that the requirements for becoming a Vet at that time took only 2 years instead of 4.  So yes Dr. Melba Ketchum IS a real Doctor.  But her seeming 2 years of post graduate work becoming a Vet is in no way comparable to the time it takes to finish a Ph.D in research, which would usually be 4 years at a minimum, and I know one person who took 12 years as her area of research was more demanding.

And as Doctors, Veterinarians take their own version of the Hippocratic Oath upon receiving their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degrees:

"Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine,

    I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of livestock resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

    I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

    I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence."
But how did Dr. Ketchum become qualified to work in the area of genetics and genetic testing?  She makes the following claims on her company website: "Dr. Ketchum is a past three-term Chairperson of the International Society for Animal Genetics Equine Genetics Standing Committee. She has also been Dog Map Chairperson and a Committee member on the Dog and Cat Parentage Committee. She is a former Treasurer for AFDAA, The Association of DNA Analysts and Administrators."  But she does not list any Degrees, Certifications, or indications of further education or training beyond her Veterinarian Degree.  That does not mean these do not exist, but it seems odd that someone making the extraordinary claims that she has regarding the Sequencing of Bigfoot DNA, and her year/s long attempt at bringing her findings to an esteemed Peer Reviewed Journal, would not have released her Credentials or her Curriculum Vitae by now.  These are commonly circulated amongst members of the Academic Community, and I am sure something of the sort was submitted along with her paper to the Journal/s she has been working with.  Her Genetic expertise may well have been gained on the job while working in the labs of others before she founded DNA Diagnostics Inc. in 1985, which is quite a valid form of learning and training, but that information could be relaid by making public her CV.  Doing so would go a long way to setting the minds of many to rest who have serious doubts about her credibility, doubts based on her own statements and public association with members of the "fringe" of Bigfoot Research, those claiming on the one hand that Bigfoot are "human" yet on the other hand that Bigfoot are capable of all manner of paranormal and other-worldly abilities and behaviors.  And they have yet to bring forth any evidence of the abilities and behaviors they are claiming their Bigfoot are capable of which would withstand any manner of scientific scrutiny or substantiation.

I think another legitimate question might be has Dr. Ketchum violated the "principal of veterinary medical ethics" in that above oath?  Well since her lab provided a genetic identification service, and not a medical diagnostic service which could have resulted in the harm and suffering of animals due to the negligence indicated by her Better Business Bureau "F" rating and customer complaints, probably not.  But this is a gray area and may be interpreted differently by others, as she is using her title of Doctor in her DNA Diagnostics  Bio Page which I am sure her customers used in their decision to do business with her.

So Dr. Ketchum I call for you to please release your academic history and qualifications by making your Curriculum Vitae part of the public record, along with the extraordinary claims of success in sequencing the entire nuclear and mitochondrial genomes of several specimens of Bigfoot that you were so eager to share with us before any data substantiating those claims had been released. 

Read more about DNA Diagnostics Customer Complaints at the Bigfoot Lunch Club.


And you can read what an actual geneticist feels about Dr. Ketchum's claims here:
Dr. Disotell is a Professor of Anthropology at New York University 


  1. My understanding is that one can actually enter both Med School and Vet School prior to receiving a B.S. (My brother-in-law did it for the Med school; a college roommate did it for Vet school.) Then, during the course of one's professional schooling, the undergraduate degree is conferred. So, overall, one can earn a B.S. and a D.V.M (or an M.D.) in fewer than 8 years.

    1. Yes Tom, as I mentioned above sometimes exceptions are made if the person has a background that reflects experience or education that can be considered applicable to the degree program.

  2. One anonymous comment seems to have disappeared before I had time to address it, but I would like to go ahead and respond to the accusation that I have no right or business "questioning anything Dr. Ketchum has claimed to be true".

    What right do I have to question her qualifications and background? I will tell you the right I have. Firstly I have two scientific degrees myself and I work in Biotechnology, a scientific profession, so as a scientist I have every right to question the claims of someone who is making extraordinary statements without having released or published any data, of any kind, in any form that would substantiate those claims. And secondly not only do I have this right as a scientist, but anyone who has followed her study and statements over the last 3 years, and especially those who have spent time, money and effort providing her with the samples she has used in the study, has a right to expect at this point some kind of substantiation and not just blind belief in her based on her word alone. We all have personal theories about what the Sasquatch beings are, but if there is going to be any truth in our endeavor to find out we have to look at the data in an unbiased way, and that data has to be repeatable and replicated by others, who also come to the same conclusions and interpretations.

    One can not just claim that their data proved their preconceived belief, but not release the actual data that proves that it is true. If that was the way science worked then we could all be claiming anything we wanted without having to prove it. Courts of law could convict anyone they wanted without any evidence by demanding that what they asserted was true just by their assertion, and men all over the country would be paying child support for children that were not theirs just because the mother claimed they were the fathers.

    Where is the science to actually back up what she says are her conclusions? We have not yet seen it, so yes, we all have EVERY right to question her and to continue the questioning until the real truth of what her study contains is known. Only after her data has been reviewed and accepted by the legitimate scientific community does it mean anything.