The History of Pandemic Research: Why this Subject?

I just realized that I was involved in the preparations for the next pandemic back in the early 2000’s after U.S.A. citizens became concerned following 9-11(-2001) and the following anthrax terrorist attacks via U.S. Postal Service deliveries.  In August 2003 I became the director of research initiatives in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, where there existed one of the worlds experts on Brucella, the bacteria that causes Brucellosis, a major concern of cattle owners in the world.  Brucella was an agent that could be used in a terrorist attack, and it’s attack on animals was intracellular, similar to the way anthrax (Bacillus anthracis) infects its hosts.  So you can imagine that the researchers at Virginia Tech (and everywhere you found infectious disease researchers) were very interested in anthrax.  Furthermore, the anthrax terrorist attacks attracted interest in a number of agents that could be associated with emerging infectious diseases.  Any researchers working on agents that could become bioterrorist agents or could cause hard-to-address pandemics — like Ebola, Variola major (small pox), Yersinia pestis (plague), Dengue and Francisella tularensis (tularemia) — were pushing to get their research funded at higher levels than in the past, and my co-workers for whom I was to be helping find funding, got me involved in building emerging infectious disease, i.e., pandemic, research capacity at Virginia Tech.  That realization peaked my interest in the history of pandemic research – which could turn into enough material to be covered in a book, but for here, I’ll just touch on two questions:

  • How did the recurring plagues in human history, stimulate efforts to be more prepared for them in the future?
  • How did anthrax terrorist attacks of 2001 stimulate pandemic-related research?

I’ll be working on separate posts for each of these questions.  If you have suggestions about subjects to cover, then let me know by sending me email to

Author: T.P. Caruso

Retired from a healthcare and biomedical research career and now enjoying connections with anyone interested in history, geneology, healthcare, leadership or consciousness.

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