The Strange History of Bacteriophage Therapy: Re-emergence of a Forgotten Cure

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Main contributor
Strathdee, Steffanie A., 1966-
Lecture presented by Steffanie Strathdee, PhD (Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences, Harold Simon Distinguished Professor, University of California San Diego Department of Medicine; Co-Director, Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics) on November 11, 2021. This lecture was sponsored by the John Shaw Billings History of Medicine Society, IU School of Medicine History of Medicine Student Interest Group, IUPUI Medical Humanities & Health Studies Program, and the Ruth Lilly Medical Library. 

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most pressing global health issues of the 21st century and is worsening with the COVID-19 pandemic. With existing antibiotics losing potency and limited classes of antibiotics in the pipeline, alternatives are needed to battle multi-drug resistant bacterial infections ("superbugs"). Through the lens of her family’s personal experience with a deadly superbug infection, Dr. Strathdee’s presentation focuses on the medical history of viruses that attack bacteria (bacteriophage, or phage) and how they have been used to treat superbug infections for over 100 years. Dr. Strathdee also discusses the reasons why bacteriophage therapy fell out of favor in the West (drawing from research conducted by medical historian Dr. William Summer), recent advances in phage therapy that led to the founding of the first dedicated phage therapy institute in North America (IPATH), and the role of her family’s case in the process.
Ruth Lilly Medical Library
Educational; History
History of Medicine; Bacteriophages; Drug Resistance in Microorganisms; World Health
History of Medicine and Medical Humanities Lectures
Ruth Lilly Medical Library
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In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted

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