People, Parasites, and Plowshares: Learning from Our Body's Most Terrifying Invaders

Author(s): Dickson D. Despommier


Dickson D. Despommier's vivid, visceral account of the biology, behavior, and history of parasites follows the interplay between these fascinating life forms and human society over thousands of years. He focuses on long-term host-parasite associations, which have evolved to avoid or even subvert the human immune system. Some do great damage to their hosts, while others have signed a kind of "peace treaty" in exchange for their long lives within them. They also, Despommier shows as he discusses these organisms with the reader, practice clever survival strategies that doctors hope to mimic as they undertake treatments for Crohns disease, food allergies, type 1 diabetes, organ transplantation, and other as yet unsolved medical challenges. Despommier concentrates on particularly remarkable and often highly pathogenic organisms, describing their life-cycles and the mechanisms they use to avoid elimination. He details their attack and survival plans and the nature of the illnesses they cause in general terms, enabling readers of all backgrounds to steal a glimpse into the secret work of such effective invaders.
He also points to the cultural contexts in which these parasites thrive and reviews the current treatments available to defeat them. Encouraging scientists to continue to study these organisms even if their threat is largely contained, Despommier shows how closer dissection of the substances parasites produce to alter our response to them could help unravel some of our most complex medical conundrums.

Product Information

A well written and fascinating introduction to human parasitology from an intriguing, seldom-used perspective -- how we can learn from parasites to achieve medical breakthroughs. -- Rod Adam, University of Arizona Dickson D. Despommier's approach is unique, easy going, and insightful. His book will appeal to both scientists and laypeople interested in science and medicine -- and will be of particular interest to travelers to exotic places. -- Robert Gwadz, National Institutes of Health There's a lot to learn from a tapeworm. Parasites have evolved stunningly successful strategies for thriving in our bodies for millions of years. Drawing on his long career as a parasitologist, Dickson Despommier explores the lessons we can gain from our passengers, creating a fascinating tour of the parasitic world. -- Carl Zimmer, author of A Planet of Viruses and Parasite Rex

Dickson D. Despommier is emeritus professor of public health and microbiology at Columbia University. For thirty-eight years, he taught parasitic diseases to second year medical students at Columbia's medical school. He has won numerous teaching awards, including the prestigious Golden Apple Award For Teaching Excellence from the American Medical Students Association. He is the author of more than seventy peer-reviewed research articles, numerous reviews, and three books. He is currently engaged in promoting the idea of growing food crops in tall buildings inside city limits (vertical farming). His book, The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century, was highly received. William C. Campbell is a retired senior research scientist at Merck, Inc., Rahway, New Jersey. He discovered and helped develop the drugs thiabendazole, ivermectin, and related derivatives. Both parent compounds have helped to reduce or eliminate certain parasitic worm infections in cattle and humans. He is a world renowned expert on drug discovery, a former president of the American Society for Parasitologists, and is currently a RISE associate at Drew University.

Foreword by William C. CampbellPrefaceAcknowledgments1. This New House: Trichinalla spiralis2. Hooked on Parasites: Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus3. Houdini's Nefarious Cousins: The Trypanosomes, the Schistosomes, and the Lymphatic Filariae4. A Parasite for All Seasons: Toxoplasma gondii5. The Unholy Trinity: Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura, and theHookworms6. The Long and the Short of It: Tapeworms -- Taenia saginata, Taenia solium, Diphyllobothrium latum, Echinococcus granulosus, and Echinococcus multilocularis7. All's Well That Ends Wells: Dracunculus medinensis8. Nature Has All the Answers. What's Your Question?GlossaryFurther ReadingIndex

General Fields

  • : 9780231161947
  • : Columbia University Press
  • : Columbia University Press
  • : 0.512
  • : May 2013
  • : 229mm X 152mm
  • : United States
  • : June 2013
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Dickson D. Despommier
  • : Hardback
  • : English
  • : 578.65
  • : 216
  • : 43 black & white illustrations