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Jens Seeberg


Jens Seeberg
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Over the past 25 years, it has become clear that it was only a matter of time before another major pandemic would strike, and many new viral diseases have emerged with pandemic potential. The Corona pandemic has shown very clearly that this was not a pessimistic prediction but a realistic scenario and there is no reason to expect that this pattern will not continue.

In my research, I work on developing a biosocial approach to global health problems, and here I am particularly concerned with the development of antibiotic resistance as a result of the way we have globally organised both the production and use of antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of bacterial infections. Resistance can be seen as a particular response to the social relationships we enter into both between humans and in relation to other species such as pets and food-producing animals; but also with bacteria, which are an essential part of the mammalian holobiont - the multitude of organisms that make up, say, a human being. Tuberculosis is a disease that biomedicine in principle has been able to treat effectively for decades, but which about a quarter of humanity nevertheless carries, because the biosocial dynamics that lead to its spread cannot be managed by drugs alone. While it is important to ensure access to treatment, too narrow a focus on medical treatment has so far had the effect of allowing multi-drug resistant TB to proliferate. Therefore, new and interdisciplinary insights are needed that may eventually lead to a paradigm shift in the management of infections and the use of antibiotics: a biosocial approach is one possible proposal for such a paradigm shift.

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