Tuberculosis: A Cultural and Scientific History

image courtesy Microbe World
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Taught by Jessica S.

Despite her NYC pedigree, Jessica has always been obsessed with the natural world, above and beyond pigeons, rats, and cockroaches. By day, Jessica studies membrane biogenesis and signaling in M. tuberculosis, the nasty bacterium that causes TB. She holds an MPH from Columbia and a PhD from Cornell. Her grandmother would like you to know that this kind of doctorate means that Jessica does not come equipped with a prescription pad (and therefore “is not the real kind of doctor.").

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What do Frederic Chopin, King Tut, George Orwell, Eleanor Roosevelt, and almost every heroine in 19th century opera have in common? Tuberculosis - which took the lives of at least 3 of them. Tuberculosis, you say? Does anyone even get that disease anymore? Well, yes in fact 1/3 of the human population is currently infected with this nasty, unrelenting bug. Does that mean 1 in every 3 people I meet can give me TB? Not exactly...

This class will focus on the history of tuberculosis from both a cultural and scientific lens. We will discuss how tuberculosis has played a role in human history, influencing many aspects of our art, and from there, we will jump into the relatively recent scientific history of tuberculosis over the past ~180 years, and what TB has meant to New York City.

If you're curious about how disease influences humans and vice versa, or you want to learn a little bit more about a very clever and deadly bacterium, this class is for you.

(Class size 20ish, lecture and q&a)

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