Ecology of Emerging Diseases

Instructor: Dr. Peter Daszak
Course number: ENVB 0306 N

Fulfills requirement: Case Study
Day: Thursday
Dates: September 5, 19, 26, October 3 (Module 1, 4 longer sessions)
Time: 6:10 – 8:40 PM

Course Description

Why do pandemic diseases like AIDS, Ebola, influenza and SARS emerge? What causes them to ‘spillover’ from wildlife to people and spread so rapidly around the world? More than 60% of emerging infectious diseases that affect humans originate in animals and more than two-thirds of those originate in wildlife. Human processes that infringe upon previously uninhabited areas have the potential to profoundly affect our exposure to diseases around the world, causing millions of people to become infected, and costing billions of dollars each year. Yet health assessments rarely take into account the principles of disease ecology, the interaction of the behavior and ecology of hosts with the biology of pathogens. In this course you will gain an overview of the principles of disease ecology with an emphasis on the effect of disease on human, wildlife, domestic animals, and ecosystem health. We will explore the environmental and socioeconomic drivers behind the rise of Ebola, SARS, HIV and other devastating pandemics, and examine the impact of disease on biodiversity and rates of extinction.

About the Instructor

Dr. Peter Daszak is President of EcoHealth Alliance (EHA), a US-based organization which conducts research and outreach programs on global health, conservation and international development. Dr. Daszak’s research has been instrumental in identifying and predicting the impact of emerging diseases across the globe. His achievements include identifying the bat origin of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), identifying the underlying drivers of Nipah and Hendra virus emergence, producing the first ever global emerging disease hotspots map, identifying the first case of a species extinction due to disease, coining the term “pathogen pollution,” and discovering the disease chytridiomycosis as the cause global amphibian declines. Dr. Daszak is a member of the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Forum on Microbial Threats, the One Health Commission Council of Advisors, the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) External Advisory Board, and served on the IOM Committee on global surveillance for emerging zoonoses, the National Research Council (NRC) committee on the future of veterinary research, the International Standing Advisory Board of the Australian Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), and he has advised the Director for Medical Preparedness Policy of the White House National Security Staff on global health issues. Dr. Daszak won the 2000 Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) medal for collaborative research on the discovery of amphibian chytridiomycosis, is the EHA institutional lead for the US International Development Agency Emerging Pandemic Threats (USAID-EPT) PREDICT project, and is Editor-in-Chief of the journal EcoHealth. He has authored over 200 scientific papers, and his work has been the focus of extensive media coverage, ranging from popular press articles to television appearances.