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portrait of Dr Mark Honigsbaum

Dr Mark Honigsbaum

Senior Lecturer in Journalism

School of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Journalism

Contact Information


Visit Mark Honigsbaum

AG18, College Building

Postal Address

City, University of London
Northampton Square
United Kingdom



I am a medical historian and journalist with wide-ranging interests encompassing health, science, the media and contemporary culture. A regular contributor to The Observer and The Lancet, I am the author of five books including The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria and Hubris (New York and London: Norton; Hurst, 2019), The Fever Trail: In Search of the Cure for Malaria (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2002) and Living With Enza: The Forgotten Story of Britain and the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918 (Macmillan, 2009) which was longlisted for the Royal Society science book of the year in 2009.

A specialist in the history of infectious disease, my academic work combines insights from the medical and environmental humanities and the sociology of science. My current research focuses on the phenomenon of "vaccine hesitancy". Through case studies of recent vaccine controversies I seek to understand the role that the media and partial or incomplete scientific knowledge of vaccines and their interaction with the human immune system plays in suspicion of this valuable medical technology.

During the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic I conducted more than 40 interviews with key scientific actors and health responders for an oral history project interrogating the medical and humanitarian response to the outbreak and the negotiations over clinical trials of vaccines and other unlicensed medications. This project ran alongside a three-year research project into the intellectual origins of modern ideas of disease ecology. Both projects were supported by the Wellcome Trust.

Prior to obtaining my PhD, I was Chief Reporter of The Observer, Britain’s oldest Sunday newspaper and enjoyed a long career as an investigative journalist and feature writer at newspapers such as the Evening Standard, the Independent on Sunday and The Guardian. In 1996 I produced two documentaries for Channel 4 Dispatches exposing the role of the British intelligence services in the re-arming of the Argentine Navy and from 1998-2000. The documentaries were short-listed for the 1996 Royal Society of Televison Award.

Alongside my academic work, I produce animations on science subjects – my animation, How Pandemics Spread, has been viewed more than 1.7 million times on TED-ED. My podcast series, 'Going Viral: The Mother of all Pandemics', marking the centenary of the 1918 influenza pandemic, has been downloaded more than 20,000 times. @GoingViral_pod. Currently, I am working with The Gates Foundation on a digital animation and blog, 'Sick History".

In 2019 the Financial Times described The Pandemic Century one of the "health books of the year".


  1. Head of Events, City, University London, Jul 2019 – present


Books (4)

  1. Honigsbaum, M. (2019). The Pandemic Century One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria and Hubris. London: Hurst. ISBN 978-1-78738-121-6.
  2. Honigsbaum, M. (2013). A History of the Great Influenza Pandemics Death, Panic and Hysteria, 1830-1920. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1-78076-478-8.
  3. Honigsbaum, M. (2009). Living with Enza The Forgotten Story of Britain and the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-23921-0.
  4. Honigsbaum, M. (2003). The Fever Trail In Search of the Cure for Malaria. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-42180-9.


  1. Honigsbaum, M. (2020). Swine Flu Redux: science, suspicion and the ‘pandemic that never was.’ In Bresalier, M. (Ed.), After 1918 Routledge.

Journal articles (31)

  1. Honigsbaum, M. and Krishnan, L. (2020). Taking pandemic sequelae seriously: from the Russian influenza to COVID-19 long-haulers. The Lancet, 396(10260), pp. 1389–1391. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32134-6.
  2. Honigsbaum, M. and Méthot, P.O. (2020). Introduction: microbes, networks, knowledge—disease ecology and emerging infectious diseases in time of COVID-19. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 42(3). doi:10.1007/s40656-020-00318-x.
  3. Honigsbaum, M. (2020). Revisiting the 1957 and 1968 influenza pandemics. The Lancet, 395(10240), pp. 1824–1826. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31201-0.
  4. Honigsbaum, M. (2020). Stacking the Coffins: Influenza, War and Revolution in Ireland, 1918–19 by Ida Milne. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 94(1), pp. 168–170. doi:10.1353/bhm.2020.0027.
  5. Honigsbaum, M. (2019). Disease X and other unknowns. The Lancet, 393(10180), pp. 1496–1497. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(19)30803-7.
  6. Honigsbaum, M. (2018). Spanish influenza redux: revisiting the mother of all pandemics. The Lancet, 391(10139), pp. 2492–2495. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31360-6.
  7. Honigsbaum, M. (2018). Superbugs and us. The Lancet, 391(10119), p. 420. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)30110-7.
  8. Honigsbaum, M. (2018). Flawed hero (vol 389, pg 1874, 2017). LANCET, 391(10119), pp. 430–430.
  9. Honigsbaum, M. (2017). René Dubos, tuberculosis, and the “ecological facets of virulence”. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 39(3). doi:10.1007/s40656-017-0142-5.
  10. Honigsbaum, M. (2017). Between securitisation and neglect: Managing ebola at the borders of global health. Medical History, 61(2), pp. 270–294. doi:10.1017/mdh.2017.6.
  11. Honigsbaum, M. (2016). Legionnaires' disease: revisiting the puzzle of the century. Lancet (London, England), 388(10043), pp. 456–457. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(16)31158-8.
  12. Honigsbaum, M. (2016). Vaccination: a vexatious history. The Lancet, 387(10032), pp. 1988–1989. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(16)30474-3.
  13. Honigsbaum, M. (2016). Antibiotic antagonist: The curious career of René Dubos. The Lancet, 387(10014), pp. 118–119. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)00840-5.
  14. Honigsbaum, M. (2016). ‘Tipping the Balance’: Karl Friedrich Meyer, Latent Infections, and the Birth of Modern Ideas of Disease Ecology. Journal of the History of Biology, 49(2), pp. 261–309. doi:10.1007/s10739-015-9430-7.
  15. Honigsbaum, M. (2015). Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum: Africa's veteran Ebola hunter. The Lancet, 385(9986), p. 2455. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)61128-X.
  16. Honigsbaum, M. (2014). Ryan A. Davis, The Spanish Flu: Narrative and Cultural Identity in Spain, 1918. Social History of Medicine, 27(3), pp. 615–616. doi:10.1093/shm/hku031.
  17. Honigsbaum, M. (2014). Ebola: Epidemic echoes and the chronicle of a tragedy foretold. The Lancet, 384(9956), pp. 1740–1741. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)62063-8.
  18. Honigsbaum, M. (2014). In search of sick parrots: Karl Friedrich Meyer, disease detective. The Lancet, 383(9932), pp. 1880–1881. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60905-3.
  19. Honigsbaum, M. (2013). George Dehner, Influenza: A Century of Science and Public Health Response. Social History of Medicine, 26(4), pp. 779–780. doi:10.1093/shm/hkt049.
  20. Honigsbaum, M. (2013). Mark Jackson, The Age of Stress: Science and the Search for Stability (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 311, £35, hardback, ISBN: 978-0-19-958862-6. Medical History, 57(4), pp. 604–606. doi:10.1017/mdh.2013.60.
  21. Honigsbaum, M. (2013). Dana G. Dalrymple, Artemisia annua, Artemisinin, ACTs & Malaria Control in Africa: Tradition, Science and Public Policy (Washington DC: Politics and Prose Bookstore, 2012), pp. 253, $18.00, paperback, ISBN: 978-0-615-61599-8. Medical History, 57(3), pp. 442–443. doi:10.1017/mdh.2013.22.
  22. Honigsbaum, M. (2013). Regulating the 1918-19 pandemic: Flu, stoicism and the northcliffe press. Medical History, 57(2), pp. 165–185. doi:10.1017/mdh.2012.101.
  23. Honigsbaum, M. (2013). The art of medicine: "an inexpressible dread": Psychoses of influenza at fin-de-siècle. The Lancet, 381(9871), pp. 988–989. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60701-1.
  24. Honigsbaum, M. (2011). Susan D. Jones, Death in a Small Package: A Short History of Anthrax. Social History of Medicine, 24(3), pp. 839–840. doi:10.1093/shm/hkr102.
  25. Honigsbaum, M. (2011). The 'Russian' influenza in the UK: Lessons learned, opportunities missed. Vaccine, 29(SUPPL. 2). doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.03.063.
  26. Honigsbaum, M. (2010). Frances Larson, An Infinity of Things: How Sir Henry Wellcome Collected the World. Social History of Medicine, 23(3), pp. 710–711. doi:10.1093/shm/hkq089.
  27. Honigsbaum, M. (2010). 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), pp. 299–319. doi:10.1093/shm/hkq011.
  28. Honigsbaum, M. (2009). Pandemic. The Lancet, 373(9679), p. 1939. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61053-9.
  29. Honigsbaum, M. (2009). Anthony Costello: making climate change part of global health. The Lancet, 373(9676), p. 1669. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60929-6.
  30. Honigsbaum, M. (2009). Hongjie Yu: monitoring avian influenza in China. The Lancet, 373(9671), p. 1243. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60714-5.
  31. Honigsbaum, M. (2009). The patient's view: John Donne and Katharine Anne Porter. Lancet, 374(9685), pp. 194–195. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61319-2.