When Germs Travel: Coronavirus, Quarantines, and Contagious Crises


Howard Markel, M.D., Ph.D., is the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine, and director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. He will share his expertise on contagious diseases and how epidemics can spread because of concealment efforts, misuses of public health tools and rapid travel.

This lecture will discuss:

  • The four acts of an epidemic in historical terms as well as the common themes of epidemics across history.
  • Mass communication and social media, which help scientists tackle these problems, but can also spread rumor and misinformation.
  • How the quarantines of the 21st century have a voice through their smart phones and computer/internet connectivity.

Dr. Markel's books include Quarantine!, When Germs Travel, An Anatomy of Addiction, and The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and The New England Journal of Medicine.

He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dr. Markel’s presentation is being made possible by the offices of Oakland University’s President and Provost, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, Oakland University School of Nursing, Oakland University School of Health Sciences, the Department of History, the Center for Civic Engagement and the Department of Political Science.

This activity is eligible for a Meaningful Participation credit.


10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Oakland University
Oakland Center
Founders Ballroom A