For cancer researcher and medical historian Baruch S. Blumberg, communication is central element in the scientific enterprise This month, many Americans will see him in that role when public television station across the country broadcast "Plagues." A host of the one-hour program, Blumberg traces the origins of several deadly epidemics: malaria, which may have contributed to as many as half of all human deaths to date the 1849 outbreak of cholera in London; the 1918 Spanish flu; and Legionnaires’ disease, identified in Philadelphia in 1976 From locations in the United States, England, Australia and the South Pacific, he describes scientists’ efforts to understand these diseases and prevent their spread.

Blumberg, vice president for population oncology and senior member of the Institute for Cancer Research at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, is also professor of medicine and anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his M.D. from Columbia University...

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