The Threat of Lethal, Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs and the Forgotten Cure—Bacteriophages—That Can Defeat Them
A Virtual Conversation with Dr. Steffanie Strathdee
Thursday, June 17, at 7 PM EDT on Zoom
Science Writers in New York invites you to a talk with Dr. Steffanie Strathdee (@ chngin_the_wrld), Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences, Harold Simon Professor, UCSD Department of Medicine, Co-Director, Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics.
Dr. Strathdee will talk with SWINY co-chair David Levine (@dlloydlevine) about the threat of lethal, antibiotic-resistant superbugs and how phage therapy, which uses bacterial viruses (phages) to treat bacterial infections, can kill even the most lethal bacteria and how she saved her husband’s life from a superbug using phage therapy. She wrote a book about her experiences, The Perfect Predator; A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug: A Memoir, with her husband that was published by Hachette Books in 2019.
When Dr. Strathdee and her husband, psychologist Tom Patterson, were vacationing in Egypt when Tom came down with a stomach bug. Steffanie dosed Tom with an antibiotic and expected the discomfort to pass. Instead, his condition turned critical.
Local doctors at an Egyptian clinic, an emergency medevac team and then a German hospital failed to cure him. By the time Tom reached the world-class medical center at UC San Diego, where both he and Steffanie worked, bloodwork revealed why modern medicine was failing: Tom was fighting one of the most dangerous, antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the world. Frantic, Steffanie combed through research old and new and came across phage theory: the idea that the right virus, aka “the perfect predator,” can kill even the most lethal bacteria. Phage treatment had fallen out of favor almost 100 years ago, after antibiotic use went mainstream. Now, with time running out, Steffanie appealed to phage researchers all over the world for help. . . and together they achieved a major medical breakthrough.
About Dr. Steffanie Strathdee
Steffanie Strathdee is an infectious disease epidemiologist who is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and Harold Simon Professor of Medicine at the University of California San Diego where she now codirects the Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics (IPATH). In 2016, Strathdee and colleagues were credited with saving her husband’s life from a deadly superbug infection using bacteriophages—viruses that attack bacteria. The case, which involved cooperation from three universities, the U.S. Navy and researchers across the globe, shows how phage therapy is a future weapon against multi-drug resistant bacterial infections which are expected to kill 10 million people per year by 2050. Strathdee and Patterson co-authored a book on their story called The Perfect Predator: A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug. For her efforts to revitalize phage therapy in the West, she was named one of TIME magazine’s Most Influential People in Health Care in 2018.
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Thursday, June 17
7 to 8 PM EDT