McMaster research helps fuel reopening of investigation into death of poet Pablo Neruda

The findings of McMaster University researchers Debi Poinar and Hendrik Poinar have helped fuel a new probe into the 1973 death of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. While Neruda’s official cause of death was listed as prostate cancer, forensic tests carried out by researchers in Denmark and Canada—including at McMaster—found that Neruda’s blood contained a botulism-causing bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, which is not naturally found in the human body. NPR reports that, last December, a judge rejected a request from Neruda’s nephew to reopen the case to consider other causes of death. However, an appeals court in Santiago, Chile has recently ordered the reopening of the investigation into Neruda’s death and has ordered that a variety of procedures—including a meta-analysis of the lab tests—be carried out.