Bugs & Drugs 

 histories of microbes, macrobes, and pharmaceuticals

Claas Kirchhelle

I am a historian of 'bugs and drugs'. As an INSERM Associate Research Professor (chargé de recherche) at the Paris CERMES3 unit (EHESS/ Sorbonne), I research the history of microbial environments, disease control, and pharmaceutical research and regulation. 

Since completing my DPhil at the University of Oxford in 2015, I have authored four books on the history of antibiotics in food production (Pyrrhic Progress, 2020), animal welfare science and activism (Bearing Witness, 2021), typhoid and public health (Typhoid, 2022), and a co-authored graphic novel on typhoid in Edwardian Dublin (Fear & Fever, 2024).

Public & Policy Engagement are important to me. My research has informed national and international policy reports on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), public health surveillance, and adverse effect compensation. I have consulted for the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and am the author of the expert report on UK public health systems and pandemic preparedness for the UK COVID-19 Inquiry. I have also co-curated two multi award-winning exhibitions on the history of penicillin (Back from the Dead) and typhoid (Typhoidland), advised on radio and theatre plays (Dangerous Visions: Culture, BBC Radio 4), authored media articles, and appeared on TV & radio (In Our Time: Bacteriophages, BBC Radio 4; Coronavirus Explained, Netflix).

Prior to my current INSERM post, I held positions as a Martin Fellow (postdoc) at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford (2015-2019) and as a tenured Wellcome Trust University Award Lecturer at University College Dublin (2020-2024). I hold honorary fellowships at the Oxford Vaccine Group and am an elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

I am always on the look out for new topics, collaborations, and interested doctoral students. My Twitter/X handle is: @Kirchhelle