Harvard Sussex Program
on chemical and biological warfare armament and arms limitation


Jeanne Guillemin


As well as being a researcher at HSP, Jeanne Guillemin is a Senior Advisor at the MIT Security Studies Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, within the Center for International Studies. For many years she was a professor of medical sociology at Boston College, where she taught courses on field methods, military medicine, and the social construction of risk and danger.

The early 1980s saw the beginning of her involvement in team-based research on international biological weapons controversies. The first was the alleged Soviet-backed use of mycotoxins in Southeast Asia (dubbed "yellow rain" by the press), for which she provided analysis of interviews with purported victims and eventually co-authored articles with Matthew Meselson and Julian Perry Robinson and other project researchers.

Her next research effort in this area concerned the post Cold War 1979 anthrax outbreak in the city of Sverdlovsk (USSR). Her book, Anthrax: the investigation of a deadly outbreak (University of California Press, 1999) describes this field project, which was led by Matthew Meselson. During the crisis caused by the US 2001 anthrax postal attacks, Guillemin appeared regularly as a commentator on the national media and has been engaged in the controversy surrounding the US Bioshield program to research select agents. Her most recent book, Biological Weapons: from the invention of state-sponsored programs to contemporary bioterrorism (Columbia University Press, 2005) is a comprehensive overview of the development of these weapons and includes a summary of relevant contemporary policy.

Her current research project, supported by the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard, concerns the potential conflict between national security policy and the universal protection of vulnerable populations from biological weapons. Her specific focus is the Japanese Imperial Army's biological weapons program in China (1934-1945) and the role of US national security interests in suppressing public knowledge of war crimes committed under that program.

 

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