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The remarkable history of medicine's battle with infectious diseases

For those fascinated by microbes, infection, or how medical discoveries shape our modern understanding, Germ Theory: Medical Pioneers in Infectious Diseases, a new book just published by ASM Press, brings to life the stories of a dozen medical pioneers whose work changed the way we think about and treat infection.

Through a series of biographies, Dr. Robert Gaynes describes the genesis of the germ theory of disease and presents the inside stories of medical pioneers, from Hippocrates and Avicenna to Paul Ehrlich and Lillian Wald and the struggles they overcame to have their work accepted.

For example, readers will learn how Robert Koch discovered the bacterium that causes tuberculosis; how Edward Jenner, the pioneer of vaccination, faced down scores of naysayers; and, how a chance discovery led Louis Pasteur to the idea that virulence of microbes can be altered.

"My intent in writing this book was to offer a series of lessons that can inform strategies for tackling current crises in infectious diseases and can motivate and support today's scientists," says Dr. Gaynes.

"Germ Theory is a delightful and fascinating read for everyone interested in the remarkable history of medicine's battle against communicable disease. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it," says Robert C. Moellering, Jr., MD, Shields Warren-Mallinckrodt Professor of Medical Research, Harvard Medical School.

Robert P. Gaynes, MD, is a Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases) at Emory University School of Medicine, where he teaches a course on the history of medicine. He also serves as an Attending Physician and the Chair of the Infection Control Committee at the Atlanta VA Hospital. Dr. Gaynes has authored or coauthored over 135 papers and book chapters on infectious disease topics. He is currently the host for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weekly MMWR podcast.

Germ Theory: Medical Pioneers in Infectious Diseases has a list price of $29.95 and can be purchased through ASM Press online at or through other online retailers.


Contact: Jim Sliwa
American Society for Microbiology

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