'Missing Microbes' author Dr. Martin Blaser to speak on overuse of antibiotics

Dr. Martin Blaser
Dr. Martin Blaser

Dr. Martin Blaser, author of the book Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling our Modern Plagues, will give a public lecture on Thursday, January 15, at 7 p.m. at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz. Tickets are free and can be reserved online at Eventbrite.

Dr. Blaser's lecture, "Our Disappearing Microbes," has been organized by the UC Santa Cruz Department of Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology to mark the department's 15th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of UC Santa Cruz.

In Missing Microbes, Blaser described how the discovery of antibiotics ushered in a golden age of medicine, and then traced the adverse effects of our subsequent overuse of these seeming wonder drugs. According to Blaser, overuse of antibiotics has contributed to the rise of the "modern plagues" of obesity, asthma, allergies, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. Blaser's studies suggest antibiotic use during early childhood poses the greatest risk to long-term health, and, alarmingly, American children receive on average about 17 courses of antibiotics before they are twenty years old. In his talk, Blaser will present the evidence in support of his theory and explain what people can do to avoid even more catastrophic health problems in the future.

Dr. Blaser is the George and Muriel Singer Professor of Medicine, Professor of Microbiology, and Director of the Human Microbiome Program at the New York University School of Medicine. He served as chair of the Department of Medicine at NYU from 2000 to 2012. A physician and microbiologist, Dr. Blaser is interested in understanding the relationships we have with our persistently colonizing bacteria. His work over the past 30 years focused on human pathogens, including Campylobacter species and Helicobacter pylori, which also are model systems for understanding interactions of residential bacteria with their human hosts. Over the last decade, he has been actively studying the relationship of the human microbiome to health and such important diseases as asthma, obesity, diabetes, and allergies.

An elected member of the Institute of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Blaser has served as President of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Cancer Institute, and Chair of the Advisory Board for Clinical Research of the National Institutes of Health. He currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

For more information about this lecture, contact Allyson Ramage at (831) 459-4719 or metxadmn@ucsc.edu.