"If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain."

Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

A Library in Your Pocket

February 15, 2010

Could Accused Murderer Amy Bishop Have Made A Weapon of Mass Destruction? A Herpes Bomb? Or Is She Just Another Ordinary, Cold Blooded Killer?

As devastating and tragic as the ruthless massacre allegedly perpetrated by Dr. Amy Bishop was, there is a solitary reference in Dr. Bishop's online resume that seemed to raise the frightening possibility that the massacre could have been even greater. Specifically, Dr. Bishop claims in her resume to have participated in what she characterizes as either an "abstract or presentation." She describes it as follows: 
Nicholas N., Holmes T., Bridge K., Cashman N. R., Anderson J., Bishop A.. (September 2004) Homeland Security Alert: NO is a Free Radical and Weapon of Mass Destruction! Partners for Biotechnology Research Conference, Monte Sano Mt. Conference Center, Huntsville, AL.  
What kinds of chemicals, viruses and biological matter did Dr. Bishop have access to in her UAH lab or through her husband's Cherokee Labsystems is anyone's guess at present,  but authorities should investigate immediately and rule out the possibility that Dr. Bishop planned for even greater devastation in the event of her arrest.

Commentors to this blog have indicated that to those in the field of neurobiology the title "Homeland Security Alert: NO is a Free Radical and Weapon of Mass Destruction" is obviously a joke. While it is certainly not obvious to the lay public, Commentor Greg Skibinski states:
The title you are referring to is not to be taken seriously...  They were satirically referring to its ability to damage neural cells.
Commentor and neurobiologist "Nzia" passed similar judgment:
It is clear to any neurobiology [sic] that the title of her conference poster is tongue-in-cheek and a joke (albeit a bad one).
Readers of this Blog are urged to read in full the Comments of Greg Skibinski and "Nzia", both of whom contribute important information and insight based on their subject matter expertise.
Presumably, Greg Skibinski and Nzia are entirely correct and Dr. Bishop's reference to "weapons of mass destruction" is no more than a demonstration of her sick and twisted sense of humor.

While faking Homeland Security Alerts about WMD's is apparently simply Dr. Amy Bishop's sick sense of humor in play, since her cold blooded execution of three colleagues and her attempted murder of four more last February 12,  Hunstville Police report they have received more than one call expressing concern that Dr. Bishop may have planted what is being called a 'herpes bomb' on the UAH campus. So far, no device of any nature that Dr. Bishop may have planted has been located.

Curiously, it has been reported that in one Dr. Bishop's unpublished novels she writes about the spread of a herpes-like virus . This has caused at least some to speculate whether Dr. Bishop or persons working in concert with her may not be responsible for the calling in herpes bomb scares.


  1. Ya know, it's a shame that the folks at the Boston Globe, the NYT and other outlets look like they are standing still compared to the information you are providing.

    Good on ya.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I have been working on an article about President Obama, the Dalai Lama and China when I heard about the UAH shootings. And like many, I have found it hard to turn away from the seemingly never ending developments.

  3. Hello. Just wanted to point out that the conference talk title you are referring to is a not to be taken seriously... NO can't be used as a WMD. They were satirically referring to its ability to damage neural cells.

    In addition, she wasn't simply concentrating on the toxic effect of NO on neural cells: she was exploring wasy to lessen the damage by desensitizing the cells to very low doses of NO, thus reducing the risk of severe injury to nerve cells.

  4. Greg, Thank you for your comment.

    1. Did you attend the conference talk or otherwise have personal knowledge of its content?

    2. Is this supposition on your part both as to what you characterize as an attempt at satire as well the potential military uses of NO?

    3. I am not a chemist, biologist or warfare expert. If, indeed, using the title "Homeland Security Alert: NO is a Free Radical and Weapon of Mass Destruction!" was meant to be a joke, it was one in exceptionally bad taste given that in 2004 Homeland Security was issuing alerts on a fairly regular basis about one perceived terrorist threat or another.

    I searched the Homeland Security website for the alleged 2004 Alert before I posted my blog and was unable to locate it. However, back in 2004 the organization of published alerts was sketchy at best on the Homeland Security website.

    Also, I did research the potential use of NO as a weapon and contrary to your implied view that it has has no military application, I discovered it can and has been incorporated into smoke bombs by the military.

    Further, I discovered that when there is "severe exposure [to the smoke], signs may range from mild respiratory distress... to more severe signs of wheezes and rales, yellow frothy sputum, and yellow staining of the mucous membranes. This may be followed by cyanosis, lethargy, convulsions, coma, and death."


    Given such published research, Dr. Bishop's demonstrated propensity to kill and her own inclusion of what you now characterize as a fake "Homeland Security Alert" on her UAH web page publication section, I stand by my blog entry.

    At the same time, I very much hope that you are correct; that this was only Dr. Bishop's tasteless and very sick idea of a joke.

  5. NO in high concentration is quite lethal in an enclosed space -- see the MSDS at this link (remove spaces):

    h ttp:// yarchive.net /chem/nox_msds.html

    Since the Andersons have a laboratory at their home address, and she is a legitimate NO researcher, they may have been able to purchase it directly from a chemical supply company.

    The Boston Globe's survey of their former Ipswich neighbors is adding to a disturbing profile of this family.

  6. I think someone wrote this on the previous post, but I agree: Great blog! Very informative. I even enjoyed the Jersey Shore post. : ) I'll be checking in regularly, too. Keep up the good work!

  7. I live in the Huntsville area, so when I read that the conference was at the Monte Sano Mt. Conference Center, I was curious. I had never heard of such a place. I checked both of my telephone directories to no avail. I then called the Monte Sano State Park Office. They never heard of such a place either. Monte Sano has a state park, a museum (Burritt's), some churches, a school and a great deal of private residences. I think she made it up.

  8. Thanks for your comments.

    Anon: your confession that you 'even' enjoyed the Jersey Shore post reflects how I felt about the show ergo the title.

    Valarae: The results of your investigation are interesting. How have things changed in Huntsville from your perspective from last week to this week, before/after?

  9. Hard to say really. We have been getting snow and ice, so the city is basically shut down. I haven't been out of the house since Friday. We have no means of removing snow and ice here because it is only needed about once a decade. I'm a northerner so I am not afraid to drive in it, but when the elevated and mountain roads are shut down, you can't go very far. Needless to say, my only measuring gauges are TV and internet. The news is saturated with stories about Amy Bishop and the murder of Todd Brown in Discovery Middle School the week before. If it weren't a military town, I would be wondering why anti-gun proposals were not already on the table.

  10. This is ridiculous. I am a neurobiologist and it has been known for a long time that NO gas is produced by neurons and glial cells and is part of the normal signaling mechanisms of the brain, but in excess levels can be neurotoxic. When cells are injured they release more NO than normal and this can lead to abnormal concentrations of this molecule in the brain and lead to spread of the injury. Amy Bishop's research focused on mechanisms used by neurons to lessen the spread of NO-mediated damage following brain trauma. It is clear to any neurobiology that the title of her conference poster is tongue-in-cheek and a joke (albeit a bad one). Instead of rudely putting down commenter's Greg's comment, it might have been worth listening to what he had to say.

    Finally, when neurobiologists study NO-mediated damage, they do not just buy NO and add it to cells, they induce cells to overproduce NO gas (and therefore cause neurotoxicity) by manipulating biological pathways that lead to its overproduction. Or by injuring neurons in a dish and preventing damage with drugs that interfere with NO-mediated signaling.

  11. Me again. One more thing, I was looking over the article you linked to about potential damage caused by various gases found in smoke, and it seems like the nitrogen oxide that is most dangerous is Nitrogen dioxide, which is the main component of smoke and a by product of diesel engines and natural decomposition. So most cases of exposure to this gas are due to accidental exposure to exhaust, welding indoors or in recently filled grain silos. I could not find in the article that nitrogen oxides are used in weapons. It did say that nitric oxide (NO) does turn into nitrogen dioxide because NO is unstable. But precisely because of this it would be difficult to get enough NO gas to get significant amounts of damaging nitrogen dioxide. For that matter you are better off collecting exhaust from a diesel engine. Anyway, hope this is useful.

  12. Thanks for your comments.

    Nzia: It is obvious you are passionate about the subject. I appreciate your insights. Also, I certainly didn't intend to be rude to Greg, the earlier poster who shared your view that the title "Homeland Security Alert: NO is a Free Radical and Weapon of Mass Destruction!" is an obvious joke. It certainly was not obvious to me or many of the others who have read and commented.

  13. Thanks for your comments:

    Greg Skibinski and Nzia: I have revised the Blog to reflect your shared view that Dr. Bishop's "Homeland Security Alert" is "obviously a joke" to those like yourselves with subject matter expertise.

    My goal is not to defend what I have written, but to keep revising based on the input of readers such as yourselves.

  14. "There is likewise no dispute that Dr. Bishop has obsessed virtually her entire career on nitric oxide and its fatally toxic impact on the central nervous system."

    I think this is overstating things a bit. And there's a number of conference centers around Huntsville--

  15. Anon: Thanks for your comment. Its a fair criticism. I have edited Blog in response. Thanks.

  16. An intriguing conclusion of your recent blog post is that Dr. Bishop's sense of humor was a bit odd. Combine this with her narrow focus of research, comments made in her student ratings, and the detached expressions seen on the various photograghs, you might have some clues for another blog posting.

    Dr. Bishop expressed some of the symptoms often associated with autism spectrum disorders.

    Here's a starting point:


  17. I think the last Anon comment about the autism spectrum is very interesting--Amy Bishop and her brother both sound likely. I also wonder about her SSRI research--is she on meds? Her husband's denied it, but he's not exactly credible.

    This blog is getting a lot of traffic, and I think the research is admirable, but I'd like to see another post that explains her research, and not in "she's a fake" way. Clearly, she's not an academic fraud. Most tenure committees consider how "collegial" a colleague is, and Bishop clearly was not. Can you see her on a search committee for new faculty members?

  18. Thanks for your comments.

    Anon: suggestion that "Dr. Bishop expressed some of the symptoms often associated with autism spectrum disorders." I have made this point before and it bears repeating: I have zero neurobiology or scientific expertise and I can add to that I have zero psychiatry/psychology expertise.

  19. Anon: When you say, 'explains the research' do you mean critically evaluates it or translates it into lay terms?

  20. Donquixote5 said...

    One too many insults for this Blog. I appreciate a healthy dialogue and welcome constructive criticism. Feel free to comment again, but please no personal attacks against me or any other Commentor or your comments will be deleted.

    Thank you.

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