News Release:

Oct. 4,  2011

Battling Infectious Diseases: New Book Tells Inside Stories of Disease Fighters

"Germ Theory: Medical Pioneers in Infectious Diseases," by Robert P. Gaynes, MD

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An amazing group of men and women shaped our modern understanding of microbes and infection and changed the way physicians think about and treat disease.

In his new book, Germ Theory: Medical Pioneers in Infectious Diseases (American Society for Microbiology Press), Emory infectious disease expert Robert Gaynes, MD, brings to life the stories of a dozen pioneering individuals, from Hippocrates and Avicenna to Paul Ehrlich and Lillian Wald, and the struggles they overcame to have their work accepted.

Readers will learn how Robert Koch discovered the bacterium that causes tuberculosis; how Edward Jenner, who discovered vaccination, faced down scores of disbelieving colleagues; and how a chance discovery led Louis Pasteur to the idea that virulence of microbes can be altered.

“These men and women offer lessons that can surely inspire today’s physicians and scientists to tackle complex challenges in emerging infectious diseases,” says Gaynes.

“Germ Theory is a delightful and fascinating read for everyone interested in the remarkable history of medicine’s battle against communicable disease. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it,” says Robert C. Moellering, Jr., MD, Shields Warren-Mallinckrodt Professor of Medicine Research at Harvard Medical School.

Robert P. Gaynes, MD, is a professor of medicine (infectious diseases) at Emory University School of Medicine, where he teaches a course on the history of medicine. He has authored or coauthored more than 135 papers and book chapters on infectious disease topics. He is currently the host for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weekly MMWR podcast.

Germ Theory: Medical Pioneers in Infectious Diseases has a list price of $29.95 and can be purchased through American Society for Microbiology Press (ASM Press) online at or through other online retailers.


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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