science | July 14, 2011

A New Book by Nathan Wolfe, The Viral Storm, Rethinks Pandemics

Biologist and virus hunter Nathan Wolfe, who is a member of this year's TIME 100, will release his first book, The Viral Storm: the Dawn of a New Pandemic Age, this fall. Called "a charismatic and rising star of the medical world" by fellow Lavin speaker Jared Diamond, Wolfe crisscrosses the globe to study the early warning signs of pandemics—tracking diseases in rural jungles, and charting their movement from animal to human populations. (Pandemics of recent memory—swine flu, SARS, etc—started in the animal world before tipping over, quickly and virally, into the human population.) A professor at Stanford, Wolfe was recently profiled in The New Yorker for its World Changers issue. Previously, he was named to Rolling Stone's 100 Agents of Change. He's a mesmerizing speaker, for scientific and general audiences alike. There is so much in the world we don't yet know, so much left to discover, he tells audiences. And this is cause, not for despair, but for hope.

More about The Viral Storm, from the publisher:
Dynamic young Stanford biologist Nathan Wolfe reveals the surprising origins of the world's most deadly viruses, and how we can overcome catastrophic pandemics.

In The Viral Storm, award-winning biologist Nathan Wolfe tells the story of how viruses and human beings have evolved side by side through history; how deadly viruses like HIV, swine flu, and bird flu almost wiped us out in the past; and why modern life has made our species vulnerable to the threat of a global pandemic.

 Wolfe's research missions to the jungles of Africa and the rain forests of Borneo have earned him the nickname "the Indiana Jones of virus hunters," and here Wolfe takes readers along on his groundbreaking and often dangerous research trips—to reveal the surprising origins of the most deadly diseases and to explain the role that viruses have played in human evolution.

 In a world where each new outbreak seems worse than the one before, Wolfe points the way forward, as new technologies are brought to bear in the most remote areas of the world to neutralize these viruses and even harness their power for the good of humanity. His provocative vision of the future will change the way we think about viruses, and perhaps remove a potential threat to humanity's survival.

Read more about biology speaker Nathan Wolfe