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UCR Research Adds Perspective to the H1N1 Flu Discussion

UCR Research Adds Perspective to the H1N1 Flu Discussion

UCR faculty members can talk about the history and evolution of disease, as well as the realities of life in Mexico

(September 17, 2009)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- The University of California, Riverside has several good sources related to the recent outbreak of H1N1 flu, including the evolution and history of disease, disease resistance to antibiotics, and the realities of life in Mexico.

Marlene Zuk, an evolutionary biologist at UC Riverside who can offer a fresh perspective on a disease like H1N1 flu and the role such diseases play in our lives. She can offer perspective about how disease-causing organisms evolve; and why we must be very careful in the use of antibiotics so that we do not inadvertently make them ineffective down the line. In a May 2009 commentary in the Financial Times (“What’s a flu like you doing in a host like this?”), Zuk noted: “Disease is not merely ubiquitous. It is essential. Illness has shaped all living things for millions of years and life as we know it – we, as we know ourselves – would not exist without it. We are caught in an unending cycle of point and counterpoint as we evolve together.” She is the author of “Riddled with Life: Friendly Worms, Ladybug Sex, and the Parasites that Make Us Who We Are” (Harcourt, 2007). Her book argues that disease is not always our foe; it can be a vital partner and friend. At UCR, Zuk studies parasites and behavior in a variety of animals. She can be reached for comment at: or (951) 827-3952

Juliette Levy, assistant professor of history, is available to discuss the organization of Mexico City government and Mexico’s health-care system in terms of the challenges faced in controlling this outbreak of H1N1 flu. She grew up in Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico, and worked in Mexico City in the mid-1990s for an American bank and a Mexican newspaper. Among her research interests is the complex relation between economic mechanisms, legal codes, social mores, gender and ethnic origin in perpetuating or overturning patterns of wealth distribution. She can be reached at (951) 827-6492 or via email:

Mike Davis, professor of creative writing at UC Riverside, is the author of more than 20 books, including “The Monster at Our Door: the Global Threat of Avian Flu, New Press, New York 2005. In a recent opinion piece in the Guardian he writes about “the World Health Organizations’s failed pandemic strategy, the further decline of world public health, the stranglehold of big pharma over lifeline medicines, and the planetary catastrophe of industrialized and ecologically unhinged livestock production.” His scholarly interests span urban studies, the built environment, economic history and social movements. A MacArthur Fellow in 1998, Mike Davis was also honored for distinguished achievement in nonfiction writing this past fall by the Lannan Literary Foundation. He prefers to be contacted by email:

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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