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War and Disease

Biomedical Research on Malaria in the Twentieth Century

Leo B. Slater

Publication Year: 2009

In this historical study, Leo B. Slater shows the roots and branches of an enormous drug development project during World War II. Fighting around the globe, American soldiers were at high risk for contracting malaria, yet quinine—a natural cure—became harder to acquire.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Series: Critical Issues in Health and Medicine


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p. vii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-16

To understand the development of the military-industrial complex in the second half of the twentieth century, we look back at the Manhattan Project that built the first atomic bombs during World War II. For biomedicine in the twentieth century, the U.S. antimalarial program serves a similar role...

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Chapter 1: Quinine and the Environment of Disease

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pp. 17-38

Complex, amazing, and highly adapted: This is how a group of researchers at the National Institutes of Health described the parasites that cause malaria. These parasites were not just an admired object of research; they were an enemy to be respected and understood on their own terms. Through the development of synthetic antimalarial drugs...

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Chapter 2: Avian Malaria

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pp. 39-58

The period between World War I and World War II was a productive one for antimalarial research. The fi rst successful environmental insecticide, Paris green, was developed against mosquitoes. And on the drug front, new methods for testing antimalarials in animals—in birds, in fact—would emerge in the Bayer laboratories. These methods would persist...

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Chapter 3: New Drugs

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pp. 59-83

Quinine—how to use it, make it, and especially replace it—remained a subject of much interest in the first half of the twentieth century. And with good reason. Although precise numbers on disease and disability were (and are) notoriously difficult to collect, especially for diseases like malaria that are at their worst among the world’s poorest...

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Chapter 4: Preparing for War

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pp. 84-108

When the war in Europe began in September 1939, researchers and health officials in the United States were already trying to address the shortcomings and potential shortfalls of quinine, cinchona, and the existing synthetic antimalarials. This period prior to U.S. entry into the war showed some of the weaknesses and strengths of the National Research Council’s approach...

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Chapter 5: Cooperation and Coordination

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pp. 109-131

The National Research Council’s fear—that the world might be cut off from its quinine supply if Java were seized by a hostile nation—became reality early in 1942. As the worst came to pass, the federal government would ramp up its involvement in malaria research in an aggressive but scattered fashion. The crisis was too soon upon the United States...

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Chapter 6: Trust and Transition

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pp. 132-155

The war began to turn dramatically in favor of the Allies during 1943. The surrender of the German army at Stalingrad in February and the Allied invasion of Sicily in July were two indicators of this shift. With the postwar world clearly in their sights and the growing complexity of wartime research...

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Chapter 7: Chloroquine, Wonder Drug

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pp. 156-176

The emergence of chloroquine as the first-line drug for malaria prophylaxis and treatment was the great medical accomplishment of the antimalarial program’s later years. Chloroquine’s path from a failed drug in the Bayer interwar program to a wonder drug of the postwar world merits attention in its own right and also illustrates the networks...

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Chapter 8: Lessons Learned

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pp. 177-196

In November 1945, Paul F. Russell, a Rockefeller malariologist who had spent much of the war in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, addressed the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine. He began with a lament for the horror and loss of war and a tribute to what had been done to advance...


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pp. 197-242


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pp. 243-250

About the Author

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p. 251

E-ISBN-13: 9780813546469
E-ISBN-10: 081354646X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813544380
Print-ISBN-10: 0813544386

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Critical Issues in Health and Medicine
Series Editor Byline: Edited by Janet Golden and Rima D. Apple See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 318240469
MUSE Marc Record: Download for War and Disease

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Subject Headings

  • Antimalarials -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Chloroquine -- Therapeutic use -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Malaria -- Research -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Malaria -- Treatment -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
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