The Royal Society GlaxoSmithKline Prize Lecture
By Professor Nicholas White OBE, University of Oxford
Contagions, or infectious diseases, which kill both fascinate and frighten us. Far from receding in importance as was expected fifty years ago in the heyday of new antibiotic discovery, infectious diseases remain a major cause of suffering and death in the developing world, and a constant threat to richer countries. This lecture will introduce some of the recently emerged infectious disease threats to global health (HIV, SARS, avian influenza, antimicrobial resistance) before concentrating on an old and potentially conquerable adversary, malaria, a blood parasite infection which still claims the lives of some 3000 children each day. The lecture will include review of recent major advances in the treatment of malaria based around the rediscovery of a Chinese herbal medicine (Qinghoasu or Artemisinin) which has proved to be the most effective antimalarial drug ever discovered.