Andrew Spielman, Professor of Tropical Public Health at Harvard School of Public Health, International Mosquito Expert, and Horizon International Scientific Review Board Member, Died on December 20, 2006


Professor Spielman related vector-borne diseases to human disturbances of ecology. He thus described his principal research interest: “Vector-borne infections, such as those that cause malaria and dengue, constitute a heavy and increasing burden on human health throughout much of the world's tropics, while the agents of Lyme disease and arboviral encephalitis threaten residents of more temperate regions. The insects and ticks that transmit these pathogens generally depend on features of disturbed landscapes that are caused by human activity. Diseases that result derive from interactions linking pathogen, vector, reservoir and human populations. Relevant strategies for long-term improvements in health, therefore, should be based on a synthesis of ecological, genetic, physiological, microbiological and immunological information and require a combination of laboratory and field research.” 


He wrote Prospects for suppressing dengue transmission by means of biological agents, a case study for the Horizon Solutions Site about how “biological agents can be used to suppress outbreaks of mosquito-borne infection in place of environmentally intrusive, insecticidal chemicals.”   


Andrew Spielman was an expert in vector-borne diseases and professor of tropical health in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). He died on December 20, 2006, of a sudden illness. He was 76 years old.  Spielman, a longtime Harvard faculty member, began, in 1959, as an instructor in the Department of Tropical Public Health, later the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. He was one of the world's foremost experts on vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue which impose such a heavy disease burden on populations in tropical countries. He authored a large body of work including more than 360 publications on the ecology, physiology and public health impact of the insects and ticks that burden human health. He received numerous international awards for his scientific contributions and professional services.


Spielman gained popular recognition for his book, “Mosquito, A Natural History of Our Most Persistent and Deadly Foe” written with Michael D’Antonio and published by Hyperion in 2001. According to the New York Times, December 23, 2006, Spielman “…investigated the mosquito’s role in transmitting malaria and dengue. He was interested in how environmental disturbances brought about by agriculture and other activities encouraged outbreaks of the sicknesses in Africa and saw the mosquito as a potential carrier for other diseases, including Rift Valley virus.”


In his work Spielman described the connection between genetics, physiology, microbiology, immunology, and human behavior, and the profound effects of ecological disturbances caused by human activity.


"He had a singularly holistic view of the balance between man and mosquitoes and between the biology and ecology of both,” said Barry R. Bloom, Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health.


Spielman’s work in Massachusetts included investigations into the transmission and impact of eastern equine encephalitis virus, West Nile virus and Lyme disease, and he applied his training locally as a member of the mosquito advisory committee of Needham, MA, where he lived.


Spielman was also a Faculty Associate in the Center for International Development at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and was head of the Laboratory of Public Health Entomology at HSPH. He had served on numerous advisory boards, including that of the UN Millennium Task Force for Malaria and on the editorial boards of The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and Parasitology Research.


Spielman received his B.S. from Colorado College and his Sc.D. from the School of Hygiene and Public Health, Johns Hopkins University. He received numerous honors including the Hoogstraal Medal of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the Medal of Honor of the American Mosquito Control Association, and many student awards for Excellence in Teaching at Harvard.


He is survived by his wife Judy and their children David, Deborah and Sue Spielman, seven grandchildren, and by a brother, Herbert Spielman.

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