-1.jpgPAUL W. EWALD , a professor of biology was the first recipient of the George E. Burch Fellowship in Theoretic Medicine and Affiliated Sciences, and he conceived a new discipline, evolutionary medicine. He is the author of Evolution of Infectious Disease which is widely acknowledged as the watershed event for the emergence of this discipline.

He has written many articles for scientific journals on topics ranging from territorial behavior to new strategies for designing new vaccines. He also written numerous articles for popular magazines such as Natural History, National Geographic, and Scientific American. His work has been featured in publications such as Newsweek, The New York Times, Omni, and The Atlantic Monthly. He has lectured extensively at college campuses, seminars and symposiums around the world. He is the author of Plague Time

More About Paul W. Ewald

Paul W. Ewald is an evolutionary biologist, specializing in the evolution of infectious disease. He received his B.Sc. in 1975 from the University of California, Irvine, in Biological Sciences and his Ph.D. in 1980 from the University of Washington, in Zoology, with specialization in Ecology and Evolution. He is currently director of the program in Evolutionary Medicine at the Biology Department of the University of Louisville.

Ewald asserts, along with a growing body of peer reviewed studies published in mainstream scientific journals, that many common diseases of unknown origin are in fact the result of the presence of slowly acting infections caused by viruses, bacteria or protozoa. For example, cervical cancer can be caused by the human papilloma virus; some cases of liver cancer are caused by hepatitis C or B; the bacteria Helicobacter pylori has been proven to cause stomach ulcers. His research extends these findings to a wide variety of other ailments.

Ewald disagrees with the popular theory that genes alone dictate certain disease susceptibility. He says “A disease-causing gene that reduces survival and reproduction would normally eliminate itself over a number of generations.” One example of this is schizophrenia; patients with the mental illness rarely reproduce. Schizophrenia may be caused by Borna virus. He argues that this disease would have already been eliminated if it were from a strictly genetic cause. He also points out that in the case of gene sharing identical twins where one develops breast cancer, the other twin has only a 20% chance of developing the disease.

His background in evolutionary biology helped form these theories, not to discredit a fateful case of diarrhea in the late 1970s. His first thought during this bout was that his body was using diarrhea to expel the pathogen and he should avoid anti-diarrheal medication. Looking at the problem from the standpoint of the organism, expulsion was not an evolutionary benefit. The only benefit to the pathogen causing the sickness would be the potential transmission to other hosts; much like the particulate expelled during coughing, diarrhea can be a means of distribution. This thinking sparked his curiosity of the evolutionary process of infections.

Another major influence has been the AIDS virus which is inactive for years (allowing it to spread) before terminal, chronic and deteriorative ailments incapacitate and finally kill the victim.

The alleged evolutionary disadvantage of homosexuality has led Ewald to argue that it might be caused by an as-yet undetected virus working in utero that triggers hormonal responses.