The Strange Case of Wyndham Lathem, Andrew Warren and Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau

August 8th, 2017

Update: Latham Was Denied Security Clearance to Work in France

I wonder if French intelligence suspected or knew that he was contracting for U.S. DoD or intel agencies…

This article suggest that, “It may have been due to internal politics at the institution.” Although, if it was some sort of hissy fit at the institution (which is totally believable if you have had any dealings with people working in academia), that wouldn’t explain the French government’s refusal to grant the clearance.

Via: Chicago Tribune:

Six months before Wyndham Lathem became a suspect in a brutal stabbing death in his Near North Side home, French authorities denied the Northwestern University professor a security clearance to work at the prestigious Institut Pasteur, authorities said Tuesday.

A scientific committee with the Paris-based institute, which specializes in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, had initially approved Lathem’s application, according to institute spokeswoman Aurelie Perthuison.

Lathem, 42, began making arrangements to move his lab overseas and mentioned his affiliation with the institute during a conference in Lithuania last September.

But Lathem failed to get final approval from the government and his application was turned down early this year, the institute said.

“Wyndham Lathem did not receive security clearance from the French authorities,” Perthuison said in an emailed statement. “This clearance being essential for this type of position, the recruitment was not pursued.”

French authorities did not provide the reason for rejection, Perthuison said.

The security clearance serves as a background check on scientists who will be working with dangerous pathogens in France. “They need to make sure people who are working with the materials are professional and can be trusted,” she said.

Lathem is a well-published microbiologist known for his work on the plague of the Middle Ages known as the Black Death.

When I initially scanned stories about the murder of Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau, I had written off the situation as some sort of crime of passion.

However, an anonymous reader sent in a link that convinced me to look more closely.

Wyndham Lathem, who is accused of the murder of Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau, happened to be an Associate Professor of Microbiology-Immunology at Northwestern and a plague expert.

Northwestern has cleansed his faculty profile already, but it remains visible on Wayback Machine. I’ll post the text from the Bio and Publications tabs below (Disclosures says that he has none for 2015):

Focus of Work
Yersinia pestis and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis are two bacterial pathogens that are very closely related, yet cause vastly different diseases in the mammalian host. Y. pestis is infamous for causing the devastating disease plague, while Y. pseudotuberculosis infection often results in a mild, self-limiting gastrointestinal illness. While genetically similar, the distinct mechanisms by which these two bacterial species interact with the host is of great interest to our group.

Shared amongst both pathogens is a protein called Hfq, which serves as a chaperone for small, non-coding regulatory RNAs (sRNAs). One set of projects in the lab centers on understanding the post-transcriptional regulatory networks controlled by Hfq and sRNAs in both Yersinia species, particularly as they relate to virulence. Our group is testing the hypothesis that the similarities and differences in sRNA gene content and expression between these species may explain how a relatively mild pathogen evolved into one of the most deadly known to mankind.

We are also interested in determining the mechanisms by which Y. pestis specifically causes primary pneumonic plague, a respiratory form of disease that Y. pseudotuberculosis does not produce. Therefore, another set of projects in the lab focuses on dissecting the mechanisms by which the Y. pestis virulence factor known as the plasminogen activator Pla, a bacterial cell surface-bound protease, controls the development of pneumonic plague. These include understanding the interaction of Y. pestis and Pla with the mammalian fibrinolytic and coagulation cascades, the identification of additional host substrates cleaved by Pla that lead to the development of a severe pneumonia, and the mechanisms by which Pla specifically induces an overwhelming inflammatory response in the lungs during infection.

Northwestern Scholars

View the Wyndham W Lathem Northwestern Scholars profile.

Northwestern Scholars is a searchable database of research expertise across all disciplines at Northwestern University. You can view collaboration networks among researchers within Northwestern and with external scholars.
Most Recent Publications

Early emergence of Yersinia pestis as a severe respiratory pathogen
Zimbler DL, Schroeder JA, Eddy JL, Lathem WW.
Nature Communications. 2015 Jun 30;6:doi:10.1038/ncomms8487.
ISSN: 20411723

Production of outer membrane vesicles by the plague pathogen Yersinia pestis
Eddy JL, Gielda LM, Caulfield AJ, Rangel SM, Lathem WW.
PLoS ONE. 2014 Sep 8;9(9):doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107002.
ISSN: 19326203

The Pla protease of Yersinia pestis degrades Fas ligand to manipulate host cell death and inflammation
Caulfield AJ, Walker ME, Gielda LM, Lathem WW.
Cell Host and Microbe. 2014 Apr 9;15(4):424-434.doi:10.1016/j.chom.2014.03.005.
PMID: 24721571 PMCID: 24721571 ISSN: 19313128

Posttranscriptional regulation of the Yersinia pestis Cyclic AMP receptor protein Crp and impact on virulence
Lathem WW, Schroeder JA, Bellows LE, Ritzert JT, Koo JT, Price PA, Caulfield AJ, Goldman WE.
mBio. 2014 Feb 11;5(1):doi:10.1128/mBio.01038-13.
PMID: 24520064 PMCID: 24520064 ISSN: 21612129

Other Selected Publications

Disruption of Fas-Fas ligand signaling, apoptosis, and innate immunity by bacterial pathogens
Caulfield AJ, Lathem WW
PLoS Pathogens 2014 Aug 7; 10(8):e1004252

Lathem was a co-chair of a conference in Washington DC called, “2017 ASM Biothreats: Research, Response and Policy,” which took place in February 2017. This Google cache page mentions Lathem, while the page on ASM’s server now does not.

The final program for the conference remains on ASM’s server as I write, and I’ve included a screen shot from it, just in case:

I wonder if something weird is happening here.

Wyndham Lathem was involved with gain-of-function research on a deadly pathogen. He was also a co-chair of a conference on “Biothreats” which featured speakers from DoD and many DoD affiliated companies.

Finally, Andrew Warren, a University of Oxford employee, inexplicably traveled to the U.S. (without telling friends or family) and is now accused, along with Lathem, of murdering Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau.

Imagine the coincidence…

A plague expert, with links to the DoD bioweapons milieu, is involved with a weird murder along with a foreign national, who happens to be from the same country where this happened several years ago:

Britain: Scientists Reconstruct Black Death Plague with Genetic Material Taken from Ancient Corpses Buried Under Royal Mint

Scientists Sequence Black Death Bacteria DNA


It would be interesting to know if Lathem had any overt DoD grants.

Here are a few other tidbits to consider:

U.S. Researchers Trying to Create Pandemic Avian Flu

Baxter International “Unintentionally” Sent Flu Samples to Companies that Contained H5N1 Avian Flu

Scientist Makes H5N1 Highly Contagious

New Bird Flu ‘Has Unique Traits’

Bird Flu Researchers to Continue Work on Engineered Virus

And Now… Plague Sweeps Through al Qaeda Terror Training Camp, Killing 40

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