Wellcome Trust Research Fellow
Location Graduate Centre, Room 6.01
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 6971
I am a medical and cultural historian specialising in the history of infectious disease. Educated at New College, Oxford, and the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL, I completed my PhD at the School of History in 2007. Prior to rejoining QMUL, I was a research associate at the Institute of the History of Medicine in Zurich.
An expert on the history of bacteriology and epidemiology, I am the author of four books, including a global history of malaria and a social history of the 1918 influenza pandemic. My current research focusses on a group of infectious disease experts working at the intersection of experimental medicine and public health in the middle decades of the 20th century and is best described as a history of modern ideas of disease ecology. I am a regular contributor to The Lancet and The Observer, where I write on health, science and contemporary culture, and have a contract with W. W. Norton for a new history of epidemics and pandemics in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
I welcome applications from candidates wishing to undertake doctoral research in the following areas:
- history of infectious disease
- medical geography
- history of exploration
- social history
- environmental humanities
A History of the Great Influenza Pandemics: Death, Panic, and Hysteria, 1830-1920. London: I. B. Tauris Academic, 2013.
Living With Enza: The Forgotten Story of Britain and the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.
The Fever Trail: In Search of the Cure for Malaria. London: Macmillan, 2001. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.
‘Cinchona’ (with Merlin Willcox), in Willcox M., Bodeker G., and Rosoanaivo P. eds, Traditional Medicinal Plants and Malaria. CRC Press, 2004.
‘René Dubos, tuberculosis, and the “ecological facets of virulence”’, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 39, 3 (4 July 2017): 15 doi: 10.1007/s40656-017-0142-5 PubMed PMID 5496974
‘Between Securitisation and Neglect: Managing Ebola at the Borders of Global Health’, Medical History, 61, 2 (April 2017): 270-294. doi: 10.1017/mdh.2017.6. PubMed PMID: 28260567.
'"Tipping the Balance": Karl Friedrich Meyer, Latent Infections, and the Birth of Modern Ideas of Disease Ecology', Journal of the History of Biology. 2015 Nov 26. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26612760.
‘Angst und Ansteckung zwischen Epidemien und Finanzkrise’, Schweiz Ärztezeitung, 93, 7 (2012): 262-264.
‘The Great Dread: Cultural and Psychological Impacts and Responses to the “Russian” Influenza in the United Kingdom, 1889–1893,’ Social History of Medicine, 23, 2 (August 2010): 299-319. Roy Porter Student Essay Prize-Winner.
‘The Road Taken: René Dubos’s transition from microbiologist to ecologist’, Rockefeller Archive Center Research Reports, March 2017.
‘Legionnaires’ Disease: revisiting the puzzle of the century’, The Lancet, 388, 10043 (July 2016):456-7. PubMed PMID: 27529093.
‘We are menaced by ever more diseases, but Zika, like most, hits the poor hardest,’ The Observer, 7 Feburary, 2016.
‘Antibiotic Antagonist: The Curious Career of René Dubos’, The Lancet, 18 November 2015.
'Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum: Africa's veteran Ebola hunter', The Lancet. 2015 Jun 20;385(9986):2455. PubMed PMID: 26122060.
'Ebola: The Road to Zero,' Mosaic, 21 April 2015.
'Ebola: epidemic echoes and the chronicle of a tragedy foretold', Lancet. 2014 Nov 15;384(9956):1740-1. PubMed PMID: 25473684
‘Ebola: the race to find a vaccine’, The Observer, 27 October 2014.
'Can a Kickstarter headset decipher the brain waves of 'locked-in' patients?', Observer Tech Monthly, 11 July 2014, p. 24.
'In Search of Sick Parrots: Karl Friedrich Meyer, disease detective', The Lancet, 383, 9932 (31 May 2014): 1880-1881.
‘Are medical apps on your smartphone good for your health?’, Observer Tech Monthly, 9 March 2014, p.22.
‘Meet the new generation of robots. They’re almost human’, Observer Tech Monthly, 15 September 2013, p.18.
‘The future of robotics: in a transhuman world, the disabled will be the ones without prosthetic limbs’, The New Review, Observer, 16 June 2013, p. 12.
‘An inexpressible dread’: influenza, dread and psychosis’, The Lancet, 381, 9871 (23
March 2013): 988-989.
‘The Politics of Empathy’, History of Emotions blog, Centre for the History of the Emotions, Queen Mary University of London, 3 December 2012.
‘Home Truths about high blood pressure’, The New Review, Observer, 8 January 2012, p. 22.
‘When it comes to bird flu, nature is the greatest bioterrorist’, Guardian Comment-is-free, 21 December 2011.
‘'The Contagious Moment’, History of Emotions blog, Centre for the History of the Emotions, Queen Mary University of London, 17 October 2011.
‘Why can’t we rid the world of malaria?’ Telegraph, 8 July 2010.
‘Was swine flu ever a real threat?’ The Telegraph, 2 February 2010
‘The Patient’s View: John Donne and Katharine Anne Porter,’ The Lancet, Vol. 374, 9685 (18 July, 2009): 194-195.
‘Pandemic,’ The Lancet, 373, 9679 (6 June, 2009): 1939.
‘Balancing Unreason: vaccine myths and metaphors’. Review of Eula Bliss, ‘On Immunity: an inoculation’, The Lancet, 385 28 February 2015): 763.
‘Ryan A. Davis, The Spanish Flu: Narrative and Cultural Identity in Spain, 1918’, Social History of Medicine 27, 3 (August 2014): 615-616.
‘Mark Jackson, The Age of Stress: Science and the Search for Stability’, Medical History, 57, 4 (October 2013): 606-606.
‘George Dehner, Influenza: A Century of Science and Public Health Response’, Social History of Medicine, 26, 4 (November 2013): 779-780.
‘Dana G. Dalyrymple, Artemisia Annua, Artemisinin, ACTs & Malaria Control in Africa: Tradition, Science and Public Policy’, Medical History, 57, 3 (July 2013): 442-443.
‘Susan D. Jones, Death in a Small Package: A Short History of Anthrax’, Social History of Medicine, 24, 3 (December 2011): 839-840.
‘Frances Larson, An Infinity of Things: How Sir Henry Wellcome Collected the World’, Social History of Medicine, 23, 3 (November 2010): 710-711.
- ‘Great Dread’, Roy Porter Student Essay Prize, 2010
- ‘Living With Enza’, Royal Society Book of the Year, 2009 long list
Membership of professional associations or societies
Social History of Medicine
Appearances in the media
I commentate regularly on infectious disease and global health issues for the BBC World Service and produce documentaries and educational videos on biomedical subjects. During the 2009-10 swine flu pandemic, I was a regular commentator on BBC World and Sky News.
- Newsnight, BBC 2, 16 October 2014
- Ebola-Keep Calm and Carry On, Summer Nights, BBC Radio 4, August 2014
- Historical consultant, ‘The Forgotten Fallen’, BBC4, 24 September 2012
- ‘How Pandemics Spread’, 7-minute animated videocast on the history and science of pandemics, TED ED, March 2012
- ‘The Killing Season’. Producer/Narrator: Mark Honigsbaum. Editor: Daniel Nikolaison. Documentary investigating the problem of malaria drug distribution and parasite resistance in Africa and Asia. Broadcast by ‘People & Power’, Al-Jazeera English, May 27, 2010
- ‘Living With Enza’, The Today Show, BBC Radio 4, 9 November 2008
- ‘The Fever Trail – In Search of the Cure for Malaria’, National Zoo, Washington DC. CSPAN, 23 May 2002