The Hazards of Being a Biohazard Expert

An X Files producer could fill an entire season with stories of the mysterious circumstances surrounding the deaths of 93 scientists, many of them microbiologists. The deaths began as early as 1994 with two scientists. One scientist whose project was filling payloads of scud missiles with mycoplasma strains was deliberately hit by a truck. The incident was reported as an accident. The other scientist was murdered with his wife the day after they met with a journalist friend discussing their plan to expose Harvard’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s funding of “special ops” research.
World-class microbiology became an extremely hazardous occupation in November 2001 when 11 scientists were found dead in five months with bio-terrorism experts being the highest risk. Throw out two octogenarians, a plane crash here and a snowy car accident there, and what’s left is a huge question. Did these scientists have any link to the pneumonic plague occurring in Ukraine and Central Europe today? Coincidence Theorists must be having a field day.
February 12, 2002 British microbiologist Ian Langford, 40, was found dead in his home near Norwich, England, naked from the waist down and wedged under a chair. His home was blood-spattered and apparently ransacked. Langford was an expert in global environmental risks and disease. The Norwich Coroner’s Office said they had no reason to suspect any foul play. A spokeswoman said: “It was a natural causes death. It wasn’t a death which required an inquest.”
Dr. David Kelly, senior adviser on biological weapons to the UN biological weapons inspections teams, predicted to a colleague that he’d “be found in the woods”. Six months later, on July 18, 2003, Kelly was found with his wrists slashed in the woods near his home.
John Eldridge, editor of Jane’s Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence Weekly, told a British newspaper that Kelly’s and Langford’s deaths were linked, and thought other microbiologists should be concerned for their safety. Eldridge, a Royal Navy expert said scientists involved in microbiology were terrorists’ targets under close scrutiny from the U.S. and Russia. 
Struck by a vehicle while riding his bicycle in May 2006, Dr. Yoram Kaufman’s primary fields were meteorology and climate change, with a specialty in analyzing aerosols—airborne solid and liquid particles in the atmosphere.
In February 2003, Robert G. Webster, Professor of Virology at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, in a letter to the dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Texas, in support of the construction of a National Biocontainment Lab, wrote “The technologies are in place with reverse genetics to generate any influenza virus we wish…studies are envisaged using genes of the 1918 Spanish Flu virus.” Coincidentally, also dead is the virus expert who warned of epidemics, Dr. Robert Shope. He had the lead in spending the $11 million federal grant to ensure the new lab would contain the “most hazardous pathogens known to man especially tropical and emerging diseases as well as bio-weapons.” Ninety-three and still counting: What did these microbiology experts know that we should?

By Patricia Aiken