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Indiana University School of Medicine

RLML News

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

When: November 11. 2021

Time: 4:00 PM

Registration: https://iu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0vc-Gprz4sH9OoGax3-kUBDm1zIg_22f5e 

Lecture presented by Steffanie Strathdee, PhD (Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences, Harold Simon Distinguished Professor, UC San Diego Department of Medicine, Co-Director, Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics). 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 will discuss 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. This presentation will discuss the reasons why bacteriophage therapy fell out of favor in the West, drawing from research conducted by medical historian Dr. William Summer. It will also cover 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. This event is 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.

an image of Steffanie Strathdee, PhD