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Dr Mark Honigsbaum


Wellcome Trust Research Fellow

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 6971


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.


Research Interests:

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.



A History of the Great Influenza Pandemics: Death, Panic, and Hysteria, 1830-1920 (link is external). London: I. B. Tauris Academic, 2013.


Living With Enza: The Forgotten Story of Britain and the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918 (link is external). London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

The Fever Trail: In Search of the Cure for Malaria (link is external). London: Macmillan, 2001. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.

Book chapters

‘Cinchona’ (with Merlin Willcox), in Willcox M., Bodeker G., and Rosoanaivo P. eds, Traditional Medicinal Plants and Malaria. CRC Press, 2004.

Peer-reviewed articles:

‘René Dubos, tuberculosis, and the “ecological facets of virulence” (link is external)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’ (link is external)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. (link is external)

‘Regulating the 1918-19 pandemic: flu, stoicism and the Northcliffe press’, Medical History, 57, 2 (April 2013): 165­185. (link is external)

‘Putting Pandemics in Perspective’, History and Policy Network, Institute of Contemporary History, King’s College London, October 2011, policy paper 126. (link is external)

‘Angst und Ansteckung zwischen Epidemien und Finanzkrise’, Schweiz Ärztezeitung, 93, 7 (2012): 262-264.

‘Russian influenza: lessons learned, opportunities missed’, Vaccine Special Influenza Supplement, 29, 2, (22 July 2011): B11-B15. (link is external)

The Great Dread: Cultural and Psychological Impacts and Responses to the “Russian” Influenza in the United Kingdom, 1889–1893,’ (link is external) 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’, (link is external) Rockefeller Archive Center Research Reports, March 2017.

‘Legionnaires’ Disease: revisiting the puzzle of the century’, (link is external) 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,’ (link sends e-mail) The Observer, 7 Feburary, 2016.

‘Antibiotic Antagonist: The Curious Career of René Dubos (link is external)’, The Lancet, 18 November 2015.

'Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum: Africa's veteran Ebola hunter' (link is external), The Lancet. 2015 Jun 20;385(9986):2455. PubMed PMID: 26122060.

'Ebola: The Road to Zero,' Mosaic, (link is external) 21 April 2015.

'Ebola: epidemic echoes and the chronicle of a tragedy foretold (link is external)', Lancet. 2014 Nov 15;384(9956):1740-1. PubMed PMID: 25473684

‘Ebola: the race to find a vaccine’ (link is external), The Observer, 27 October 2014.

'Can a Kickstarter headset decipher the brain waves of 'locked-in' patients? (link is external)', Observer Tech Monthly, 11 July 2014, p. 24.

'In Search of Sick Parrots: Karl Friedrich Meyer, disease detective (link is external)', The Lancet, 383, 9932 (31 May 2014): 1880-1881.

‘Are medical apps on your smartphone good for your health? (link is external)’, Observer Tech Monthly, 9 March 2014, p.22.

‘Meet the new generation of robots. They’re almost human’ (link is external), 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.

Why do humans cry? A new reading of the old sob story’ (link is external), The New Review, Observer, 14 April 2013, p. 18. (link is external)

‘An inexpressible dread’: influenza, dread and psychosis’, (link is external) 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’ (link is external), The New Review, Observer, 8 January 2012, p. 22.

When it comes to bird flu, nature is the greatest bioterrorist’ (link is external), 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?’ (link is external) Telegraph, 8 July 2010.

‘Was swine flu ever a real threat?’ (link is external) The Telegraph, 2 February 2010

The Patient’s View: John Donne and Katharine Anne Porter, (link is external)The Lancet, Vol. 374, 9685 (18 July, 2009): 194-195.

Pandemic (link is external),’ The Lancet, 373, 9679 (6 June, 2009): 1939.

For full list of newspaper articles see (link is external) or visit (link is external)

Book Reviews

‘Balancing Unreason: vaccine myths and metaphors’. Review of Eula Bliss, ‘On Immunity: an inoculation’ (link is external), 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’ (link is external), Medical History, 57, 4 (October 2013): 606-606.

‘George Dehner, Influenza: A Century of Science and Public Health Response’, Social History of Medicine (link is external), 26, 4 (November 2013): 779-780.

‘Dana G. Dalyrymple, Artemisia Annua, Artemisinin, ACTs & Malaria Control in Africa: Tradition, Science and Public Policy’, Medical History (link is external), 57, 3 (July 2013): 442-443.

Influenza: Patterns of Forgetting and Remembering (link is external)’, The Lancet (link is external), Vol. 380, 9848 (29 September, 2012): 1137.

‘Susan D. Jones, Death in a Small Package: A Short History of Anthrax’, Social History of Medicine (link is external), 24, 3 (December 2011): 839-840.

‘Frances Larson, An Infinity of Things: How Sir Henry Wellcome Collected the World’, Social History of Medicine (link is external), 23, 3 (November 2010): 710-711. 

PhD Supervision

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

Current PHD Students

  • Hannah Mawdsley – A review of the worldwide effects and impact of Spanish Influenza, 1918-1919, based on IWM's medical collections
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