Edward McSweegan Ph.D., is an American microbiologist, science writer and fiction author.
In 1988, McSweegan joined the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and eventually rose to the rank of program officer for Lyme disease. Beginning in 1995, he denounced on the Internet what he felt was unscientific and incorrect information about Lyme disease which was being disseminated by the NIH. He criticized the Lyme Disease Foundation for putting out "wacko" theories about the disease. The NIH removed him from his post as Lyme disease program officer and transferred his research grants to other workers.
The NIH later stripped him of his post in an unrelated program and transferred those grants as well. The NIH said it reassigned him to a post as director of the U.S.-Indo Vaccine Action Program. McSweegan told the Washington Post in 2003 that he didn't know he was director of that program, and was instead assigned tasks better suited for an intern.
McSweegan continued to criticize the NIH positions on Lyme disease, and the NIH suspended him for two weeks in 1997, the first step in firing him. However, the NIH's own lawyers felt there was no basis for firing him. The Lyme Disease Foundation later sued McSweegan for slander, but lost. McSweegan won a countersuit against them. Through the process, he has continued to receive positive job reviews.
Reports by the Post and CBS News led Senator Chuck Grassley, then the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, to demand that the NIH give McSweegan work. In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, Grassley questioned the NIH's uses of taxpayer money, saying it was unacceptable for the NIH to "come rattling a tin cup asking for more money" when it was forcing taxpayers to "pay for full-time novelists." The NIH promised to investigate the allegations.
McSweegan commented on public health issues in addition to Lyme disease. In 2004, McSweegan suggested that the mysterious "English sweating sickness" may have been an outbreak of anthrax poisoning. He hypothesized that the victims could have been infected with anthrax spores present in raw wool or infected animal carcasses, and he suggested exhuming the victims for testing. He has also criticized the Centers for Disease Control for investigating Morgellons, a proposed infectious condition whose existence is disputed by current scientific consensus.
- Branigan, Tania (2003-07-04). "NIH Scientist Says He's Paid To Do Nothing". Washington Post. Washington Post Company. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
- Atkisson, Sharyl (2003-06-27). "The Man With No Work". CBSNews.com. CBS News. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
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- Riddle solved? - 17 January 2004 - New Scientist