Book ID: CBB660913926

A Contagious Cause: The American Hunt for Cancer Viruses and the Rise of Molecular Medicine (2019)


Scheffler, Robin Wolfe (Author)

University of Chicago Press

Publication Date: 2019
Physical Details: 368
Language: English

Is cancer a contagious disease? In the late nineteenth century this idea, and attending efforts to identify a cancer “germ,” inspired fear and ignited controversy. Yet speculation that cancer might be contagious also contained a kernel of hope that the strategies used against infectious diseases, especially vaccination, might be able to subdue this dread disease. Today, nearly one in six cancers are thought to have an infectious cause, but the path to that understanding was twisting and turbulent. ​A Contagious Cause is the first book to trace the century-long hunt for a human cancer virus in America, an effort whose scale exceeded that of the Human Genome Project. The government’s campaign merged the worlds of molecular biology, public health, and military planning in the name of translating laboratory discoveries into useful medical therapies. However, its expansion into biomedical research sparked fierce conflict. Many biologists dismissed the suggestion that research should be planned and the idea of curing cancer by a vaccine or any other means as unrealistic, if not dangerous. Although the American hunt was ultimately fruitless, this effort nonetheless profoundly shaped our understanding of life at its most fundamental levels. A Contagious Cause links laboratory and legislature as has rarely been done before, creating a new chapter in the histories of science and American politics.

Reviewed By

Review Fedir Razumenko (2021) Review of "A Contagious Cause: The American Hunt for Cancer Viruses and the Rise of Molecular Medicine". Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin Canadien d'Histoire de la Medecine (pp. 450-453). unapi

Review Cinzia Greco (2020) Review of "A Contagious Cause: The American Hunt for Cancer Viruses and the Rise of Molecular Medicine". Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 690-691). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Abir-Am, Pnina Geraldine
Jones, Greta
Malcolm, Elizabeth
Brunton, Deborah C.
Scheffler, Robin Wolfe
Iorio, Elena
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Central European History
Historical Research: The Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research
Indian Journal of History of Science
American Ethnologist
Public Understanding of Science
Cierre edizioni
CSIRO Publishing
International Specialized Book Services
University of Chicago Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
University of California
Public health
Vaccines; vaccination
Disease and diseases
Medicine and politics
Public understanding of medicine
Koch, Robert
Wilde, Robert Willis
Bernard, Claude
Royer, Clémence
Charcot, Jean Martin
Planck, Max
20th century
19th century
21st century
18th century
20th century, late
20th century, early
Royal Belfast Academical Institution
Catholic University of Ireland (Dublin)
Harvard University
Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory
Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)

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