Ending the Arms Race with Infectious Diseases – Janelle Ayres at TEDxSanDiego 2016

There’s a war going on in the U.S. that you may not know exists.

“The scary fact is that it’s an arms race that we can never win,” said Janelle Ayres to start her talk at TEDxSanDiego.

So what is this war Ayres speaks of that is not winnable? Infectious diseases.

No, there are no real guns and ammunition involved in this war, but doctors and scientists have been throwing an arsenal of antibiotics at infectious diseases for many, many years to no avail.

Dr. Ayres, who has a PhD from Stanford University School of Medicine in Microbiology and Immunology, focuses her research on both infectious and non-infectious diseases, particularly the microbiome living on our bodies, as a means to end these diseases and prevent antibiotic resistance.

“Instead of asking ‘how do we fight infections?’ we should be asking ‘how do we survive infections?’,” Ayres said. “And I know that single word change from fight to survive seems simple, but by making that single change, we’ve completely changed the meaning of the question. And if we can understand the answer to this question, we will completely change the way we treat infectious diseases.”

Ayres and her team at the Salk Institute are working on developing strategies that promote survival without driving drug resistance – all to find a way to win the war against pestilence.

“We’re all vulnerable to the threat of contracting an infectious disease, and we’re all terrified of that threat,” she said. “But if you leave here with one thing today, I want you to leave here believing that there’s hope.”

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