Monday, October 6, 2014 - 12:15pm to 2:00pm
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Room 100F, Pierce Hall, 29 Oxford Street

STS Circle at Harvard

Scott Podolsky, Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital, on "Antimicrobials and Public Health: From Serotherapy to Antibiotics (and Back)"

Lunch is provided if you RSVP. Please RSVP via our online form before Thursday morning, October 2nd.
Abstract: Today, from Ebola to MRSA, we live in a global arena focused from the one end on the equitable distribution of available antimicrobials, and from the other on the dangers of antimicrobial overprescribing and overconsumption.  Such concerns represent two sides of an aspiration to a “rational” therapeutics, in which the right drugs for the right patients are available at the right time in the right place for the right cost.  These are longstanding concerns, and this talk will trace the course of antimicrobial policy in the United States over the course of the past century, from the advent of the treatment of pneumonia with antiserum in the first decades of the twentieth century, through the advent of antibiotics and evolving concerns over irrational therapy and antibiotic resistance in recent decades.  Alternative futures – whether utopian or dystopian – have been envisioned, and alternative regulatory policies have been chosen to promote or alter such futures, throughout the past century.  In the process, the roles of patients, private practitioners, public health departments, industry, regulatory bodies, and independent national and international organizations have been reimagined in the ongoing struggle to implement a rational therapeutics.
Biography: Scott Podolsky is an Associate Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Since 2006, he has served as the Director of the Center for the History of Medicine based at the Countway Medical Library. He has co-authored Generation of Diversity: Clonal Selection Theory and the Rise of Molecular Immunology (1997), authored Pneumonia before Antibiotics: Therapeutic Evolution and Evaluation in Twentieth-Century America (2006), and co-edited Oliver Wendell Holmes: Physician and Man of Letters (2009). His forthcoming book, The Antibiotic Era: Reform, Resistance, and the Pursuit of a Rational Therapeutics, will be published by Johns Hopkins University Press in January of 2015.

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