Science & Medicine Pioneer
Martin J. Blaser
Microbiology, Rutgers University
Martin J. Blaser is the director of Rutgers University’s Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine and professor of medicine and microbiology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Blaser’s work over the past 30 years has focused on human pathogens, including Campylobacter species and Helicobacter pylori, which also are model systems for understanding the interactions between residential bacteria and their human hosts. His lab’s more recent focus has been exploring the relationship of the human microbiome to health and disease, in particular, asthma, obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes, psoriasis, and skin infections.
Blaser is author of Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues. In it, Blaser traces how overuse of antibiotics has contributed to rising rates of certain diseases, including obesity and certain forms of cancer. “Just within the past few decades, amid all of these medical advances, something has gone terribly wrong,” Blaser writes in the book’s opening chapter. “In many different ways we appear to be getting sicker. You can see the headlines every day. We are suffering from a mysterious array of what I call ‘modern plagues’.”
Over the course of his career, Blaser has served as President of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Cancer Institute, and Chair of the Advisory Board for Clinical Research of the National Institutes of Health. He currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. He was also elected to the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy for Arts and Sciences. Blaser is also founder of the Bellevue Literary Review, a publication that explores medicine, illness, and society through fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.