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Paul W. Ewald, the evolutionary biologist who helped to found the discipline of evolutionary medicine and who authored the influential books "Evolution of Infectious Disease" and "Plague Time," will speak on the Old Dominion University campus Thursday, Nov. 8, as part of the College of Sciences Distinguished Visitors Lecture Series and the Daniel E. and Helen N. Sonenshine Endowed Lecture Series.

A public lecture, "Infection and Cancer: Insights from Evolution and the Stuff Swept Under the Rug," will begin at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Mills Godwin Jr. Life Sciences Building.

Ewald also will lead a scientific seminar scheduled for 12:30 p.m. in the same auditorium. It is titled "Bird Flu and Other Emerging Diseases: How to Distinguish the Few Major Threats from the Many Fizzlers." Although the seminar is designed for scientists and science students, anyone may attend.

"Plague Time," which is subtitled "The New Germ Theory of Disease," lays out evidence that Ewald has marshaled to support his argument that germs-not just genes and lifestyle decision-are major causes of today's deadly ailments.

He contends that the greatest threats to our health come not from killers such as Ebola, West Nile virus and super-virulent strains of influenza, but from bacteria, viruses and parasites that are common in the environment and cause long-term infections, which eventually lead to debilitation and death. Cleaning up water supplies and improving sewage treatment systems are examples of means he proposes to put evolutionary pressures on disease-causing organisms to reduce their capacity to make people sick.

Ewald is professor of biology on the academic campus at the University of Louisville and professor of microbiology and immunology at the university's School of Medicine. He also directs the university's Program on Disease Evolution.

He was the first recipient of the Smithsonian Institution's George E. Burch Fellowship in Theoretic Medicine and Affiliated Sciences.

This article was posted on: November 8, 2007

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