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Edward McSweegan


Edward McSweegan is a former microbiologist in the U.S. He has degrees from Boston College, the University of New Hampshire and the University of Rhode Island. He did postdoctoral research on Campylobacter jejuni, which was funded by the National Research Council. In 1986, he was selected as a Diplomacy Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and subsequently worked on international science and technology agreements in the U.S. State Department.

In 1988, he joined the Office of Tropical Medicine and International Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. There he helped manage international health projects in Egypt, Israel and India, which were funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. He also served as a guest scientist studying Helicobacter pylori at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

In 1993, he temporarily took over the research grant portfolios on Lyme disease and vectorborne diseases after his supervisor was killed in a car crash. As with AIDS and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lyme disease was as much a political and emotional issue as it was a public health issue. Lyme disease activists had already accused the federal government and government-funded scientists of being involved in a Lyme conspiracy[1] and other activists were threatening [2] and harassing [3] people who did not agree with their tactics or theories.

On activist group, the Lyme Disease Foundation (LDF) used its political influence to have McSweegan removed [4] as the Lyme disease program officer, and later demanded a public service award from the NIH. One NIH official, John LaMontagne, defended the award saying, “It’s just a stupid Lucite plaque” [5]. In 1997, the same Lyme group filed a $2 million slap suit against McSweegan. The American Civil Liberties Union took the case as a First Amendment issue and contracted with the national law firm of Morrison & Foerster to provide a pro bono defense. The LDF suit was thrown out of Maryland district court on April 28, 1999 [6].

Intermittent harassment from both Lyme activists and NIH managers continued for several more years, and eventually ended with the intervention of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Since then McSweegan has continued to work on international programs at NIH. Many of these programs have involved scientific workshops and training exchanges with Russia, India, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and the Baltic states.

In the intervals between international assignments and other projects, McSweegan wrote freelance science articles and started the NIH SIG (Special Interest Group) for science writers. His writing evolved into a monthly column on infectious diseases for “The Capital” newspapers in Annapolis, Maryland and membership with the National Science Writers Association. Some short-story fiction brought recognition from “Science” magazine’s “Visions of the Future” [7] Essay Contest, and First Place in Writer’s Digest 2001 Genre Fiction Contest [8]. The following year, two unpublished novels received First Prize awards and the Grand Prize from the Maryland Writers’ Association [9], which then arranged to have both manuscripts published by AuthorHouse. McSweegan also wrote book reviews for, “Microbe” magazine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the New York Times Book Review, and infectious disease entries for the online Encyclopedia Britannica. The popular Quackwatch Internet page on Lyme disease is also maintained by him.

McSweegan continues to travel, write and serve on the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Microbial Threats [10] in Washington, D.C.

  1. ^ Joseph J. Burrascano. “The Lyme Disease Conspiracy.” Oversight Hearing Lyme Disease: A Diagnostic and Treatment Dilemma. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, August 5, 1993.
  2. ^ David Grann. Stalking Dr. Steere Over Lyme Disease. New York Times Magazine, June 17, 2001.
  3. ^ Hilda Munoz. Lyme Disease Activist Told To Stop. Judge Offers To Let Charges Drop. The Hartford Courant. October 5 2005, pg. B3.
  4. ^ Alan Barbour. Let Scientists Do Their Job. New York Times - Op-Ed, July 5, 1997.
  5. ^ Rick Weiss. Lyme Disease Foundation’s influence at NIH gets under scientist’s skin. Washington Post, April 21, 1997, pg. A15.
  6. ^ Civil Action No. WMN-97-2450. Memorandum & Order, June 28, 1999 in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, William M. Nickerson, U.S. District Judge
  7. ^ Edward McSweegan. Address to the AAAS. Science. December 24, 1999.
  8. ^ Writers’s Digest.
  9. ^ MWA
  10. ^ Members, Forum on Microbial Threats:
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Edward_McSweegan". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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