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Virtual Event: Book Talk: Biography of Resistance
with Muhammad H. Zaman
In September 2016, a woman in Nevada became the first known case in the U.S. of a person who died of an infection resistant to every antibiotic available. Her death is the worst nightmare of infectious disease doctors and public health professionals. While bacteria live within us and are essential for our health, some strains can kill us. As bacteria continue to mutate, becoming increasingly resistant to known antibiotics, we are likely to face a public health crisis of unimaginable proportions. “It will be like the great plague of the middle ages, the influenza pandemic of 1918, the AIDS crisis of the 1990s, and the Ebola epidemic of 2014 all combined into a single threat,” Muhammad H. Zaman warns.
The Biography of Resistance is Zaman’s riveting and timely look at why and how microbes are becoming superbugs. It is a story of science and evolution that looks to history, culture, attitudes and our own individual choices and collective human behavior. Following the trail of resistant bacteria from previously uncontacted tribes in the Amazon to the isolated islands in the Arctic, from the urban slums of Karachi to the wilderness of the Australian outback, Zaman examines the myriad factors contributing to this unfolding health crisis—including war, greed, natural disasters, and germophobia—to the culprits driving it: pharmaceutical companies, farmers, industrialists, doctors, governments, and ordinary people, all whose choices are pushing us closer to catastrophe.
Muhammad Hamid Zaman is Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University. A major research theme in his lab focuses on developing solutions to improve access to quality care in low income settings, including in refugee settlements. In addition to over 130 peer-reviewed research articles, he has also authored two books for broad audiences. His first book, Bitter Pills (Oxford University Press, 2018), looks at the global challenge of substandard and counterfeit drugs. His second book Biography of Resistance (Harper Collins, 2020), is focused on global antimicrobial resistance. It is a story of science and evolution that looks to history, culture, attitudes, our own individual choices and collective human behavior in creating one of the biggest public health challenges of our time. Professor Zaman has also developed research and education programs focusing on refugee health at Boston University. He co-founded the university wide initiative on forced displacement in collaboration with academic, public and private sector partners in Lebanon, Uganda and Colombia. Professor Zaman has written extensively on innovation, refugee and global health in newspapers around the world. His newspaper columns have appeared in over 30 countries and have been translated into eight languages. He has won numerous awards for his teaching and research, the most recent being Guggenheim Fellowship (2020) for his work on antibiotic resistance in refugee camps.