After years of studying illness from the germs' point of view, microbiologist Paul Ewald believes that Big Pharma is wrong about some very big issues. What's right? The leader in evolutionary medicine posits radical new approaches.

Why you should listen

Paul Ewald has a problem with modern medicine: It ignores the fact that many diseases of unknown origin can be linked to slow-growing infections caused by viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms.

Ewald -- whose theory stems from both a formal education in biological sciences, ecology, and evolution, and a personal bout with diarrhea in the 1970s -- aims to change this thinking. To that end, he has written popular news articles, academic papers, and two books (Evolution of Infectious Disease and Plague Time) that explain and expand his idea. Ewald is regarded as the leading expert in the emerging field of evolutionary medicine. He directs the evolutionary medicine program in the Biology department at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, and lectures worldwide.

Among other honors, Ewald was the first recipient of the Smithsonian Institution's George E. Burch Fellowship in Theoretic Medicine and Affiliated Sciences, which was established to foster pioneering work in health sciences.

What others say

“Ewald smashe[s] the old, and unfortunately still widely accepted, notion that parasites and their hosts inevitably evolve toward a benign coexistence.” — Scientific American

Paul Ewald’s TED talk

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