Advertisement

Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 359–395 | Cite as

Patterns of Infection and Patterns of Evolution: How a Malaria Parasite Brought “Monkeys and Man” Closer Together in the 1960s

  • Rachel Mason Dentinger
Open Access
Article

Abstract

In 1960, American parasitologist Don Eyles was unexpectedly infected with a malariaparasite isolated from a macaque. He and his supervisor, G. Robert Coatney of the National Institutes of Health, had started this series of experiments with the assumption that humans were not susceptible to “monkey malaria.” The revelation that a mosquito carrying a macaque parasite could infect a human raised a whole range of public health and biological questions. This paper follows Coatney’s team of parasitologists and their subjects: from the human to the nonhuman; from the American laboratory to the forests of Malaysia; and between the domains of medical research and natural history. In the course of this research, Coatney and his colleagues inverted Koch’s postulate, by which animal subjects are used to identify and understand human parasites. In contrast, Coatney’s experimental protocol used human subjects to identify and understand monkey parasites. In so doing, the team repeatedly followed malaria parasites across the purported boundary separating monkeys and humans, a practical experience that created a sense of biological symmetry between these separate species. Ultimately, this led Coatney and his colleagues make evolutionary inferences, concluding “that monkeys and man are more closely related than some of us wish to admit.” In following monkeys, men, and malaria across biological, geographical, and disciplinary boundaries, this paper offers a new historical narrative, demonstrating that the pursuit of public health agendas can fuel the expansion of evolutionary knowledge.

Keywords

Parasitology Malaria Evolution Public health Primates Ecology Zoonosis Experimental medicine Lab-field border National Institutes of Health 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was funded by the Wellcome Trust (grant 092719/Z/10/A), on the grant “One Medicine? Investigating human and animal disease.” The insights and suggestions of my colleagues on this grant, including Abigail Woods, Michael Bresalier, and Angela Cassidy, have been invaluable. Many thanks also to Julie Hipperson, Gina Rumore, and Kim Mason, who all commented on drafts along the way, and to Georgina Montgomery and Rob Kirk, who both shared information about the use of primates in research in the early twentieth century. Thanks to the participants of the History of Science Society session (Boston, 2013) from which this paper originated, in particular Susan Jones, who provided useful commentary after the session, and Pierre-Olivier Méthot (with whom I organized the session) and Glady Kostyrka, both of whom have generously commented upon this paper. I thank Leo Slater for his advice when I was originally seeking more information about NIH malariologists and for his interviews with these scientists, which I could not have read without the help of NIH archivist Barbara Faye Harkins. Don Eyles’ son, Don Eyles, Jr., kindly provided me with a copy of his mother’s memoir, photographs of his family, and his own recollections of the time his father fell ill with malaria – not to mention meeting with me in Boston and attending my talk during the HSS meeting! My thanks to two anonymous reviewers, who provided a thoughtful critique of this paper. Finally, thanks always to my husband, Bryn Mason Dentinger, ever the sounding board for my ideas and arbiter of my work.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Abee, Christian R., Mansfield, Keith, Tardif, Suzette D., and Morris, Timothy (eds.). 2012. Nonhuman Primates in Biomedical Research: Diseases. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, Warwick. 2004. “Natural Histories of Infectious Disease: Ecological Vision in Twentieth-Century Biomedical Science.” Osiris 19: 39–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Asdal, Kristin. 2008. “Subjected to Parliament: The Laboratory of Experimental Medicine and the Animal Body.” Social Studies of Science 38: 899–917.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baer, Jean G. 1940. “The Origin of Human Tapeworms.” The Journal of Parasitology 26: 127–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baer, Jean G. 1952. Ecology of Animal Parasites. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  6. Baer, Jean G. (ed.). 1957. First Symposium on Host Specificity Among Parasites of Vertebrates. Neuchatel: Imprimerie Paul Attinger S.A.Google Scholar
  7. Bernard, Claude. 1865. An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine. Paris: Builliere.Google Scholar
  8. Beye, Henry K., Getz, Morton E., Robert Coatney, G., Elder, Harvey A., and Eyles, Don E. 1961. “Simian Malaria in Man.” American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 10: 311–316.Google Scholar
  9. Birke, Lynda. 2012. “Animal bodies in the production of scientific knowledge: Modelling medicine.” Body & Society 18: 156–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bray, R.S. 1963. “The Malaria Parasites of Anthropoid Apes.” The Journal of Parasitology 49: 888–891.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bresalier, Michael, Cassidy, Angela, and Woods, Abigail. 2015. “One health in history.” Jacob Zinsstag, Esther Schelling, Maxine Whittaker, Marcel Tanner, and David Waltner-Toews (eds.), ‘One Health’: The Theory and Practice of Integrated Health Approaches. Wallingford: CABI.Google Scholar
  12. Bruce-Chwatt, Leonard J. 1963. “Don E. Eyles Sc.D.” British Medical Journal 5368: 1344.Google Scholar
  13. Buklijas, Tatjana and Gluckman, Peter. 2012. “From Evolution and Medicine to Evolutionary Medicine.” Michael Ruse (ed.), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Darwin and Evolutionary Thoought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 505–513.Google Scholar
  14. Bynum, William F. 1983. “Darwin and the Doctors: Evolution, Diathesis, and Germs in 19th-Century Britain.” Gesnerus 40: 43–53.Google Scholar
  15. Bynum, William F. 2002. “The Evolution of Germs and the Evolution of Disease: Some British Debates, 1870–1900.” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 24: 53–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cameron, T.W.M. 1952. “Parasitism, Evolution, and Phylogeny.” Endeavour 11(44): 193–199.Google Scholar
  17. Canning, Elizabeth U. (ed.). 1981. Parasitological Topics: A Presentation Volume to P.C.C. Garnham, F.R.S., on the Occasion of His 80th Birthday. Lawrence, KS: Society of Protozoologists.Google Scholar
  18. Carpenter, Clarence R. 1940. “Rhesus Monkeys (Macaca mulatta) for American Laboratories.” Science 92: 284–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chin, William, Contacos, Peter G., Robert Coatney, G., and Kimball, Harry R. 1965. “A Naturally Acquired Quotidian-Type Malaria in Man Transferable to Monkeys.” Science 149: 865.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Clark, Herbert C. and Dunn, Lawrence H. 1931. “Experimental Efforts to Transfer Monkey Malaria to Man.” The American Journal of Tropical Medicine 11: 1–10.Google Scholar
  21. Coatney, G. Robert. 1938. “A Strain of Plasmodium relictum from Doves and Pigeons Infective to Canaries and the Common Fowl.” American Journal of Epidemiology 27: 380–389.Google Scholar
  22. Coatney, G. Robert. 1963. “Simian Malaria: Its Importance to World-Wide Eradication of Malaria.” Journal of the American Medical Association 184: 876–877.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Coatney, G. Robert. 1968. “Simian Malarias in Man: Facts, Implications, and Predictions.” The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 17: 147–155.Google Scholar
  24. Coatney, G. Robert. 1971. “The Simian Malarias: Zoonoses, Anthroponoses, or Both?’ The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 20: 795–803.Google Scholar
  25. Coatney, G. Robert. 1985. Reminiscences: My Forty-Year Romance with Malaria. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences and Affiliated Societies XIII: 5–11.Google Scholar
  26. Coatney, G. Robert, Collins, William E., Warren, McWilson, and Contacos, Peter G. 1971. The Primate Malarias. Bethesda: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.Google Scholar
  27. Comfort, Nathaniel. 2009. “The Prisoner as Model Organism: Malaria Research at Stateville Penitentiary.” Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Science 40: 190–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Contacos, Peter G., Elder, Harvey A., and Robert Coatney, G. 1962. “Man to Man Transfer of Two Strains of Plasmodium cynomolgi by Mosquito Bite.” The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 11: 186–193.Google Scholar
  29. Contacos, Peter G. and Robert Coatney, G. 1963. “Experimental Adaptation of Simian Malarias to Abnormal Hosts.” The Journal of Parasitology 49: 912–918.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Cox, Francis E.G. 2010. “History of the Discovery of the Malaria Parasites and Their Vectors.” Parasites & Vectors 3: 5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Darling, Samuel T. 1921. “The Distribution of Hookworms in the Zoological Regions.” Science 53: 323–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Delisle, Richard G. 2012. “The Disciplinary and Epistemological Structure of Paleoanthropology: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Development.” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 34: 283–329.Google Scholar
  33. Dobell, Clifford. 1933. “Researches on the Intestinal Protozoa of Monkeys and Man.” Parasitology 25: 436–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Dukelow, W. Richard and Whitehair, Leo A. 1995. “A Brief History of the Regional Primate Research Centers.” Comparative Pathology Bulletin 27: 1–2.Google Scholar
  35. Eyles, Don E. 1960. “The Exoerythrocytic Cycle of Plasmodium cynomolgi and P. cynomolgi bastianellii in the Rhesus Monkey.” American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 9: 543–555.Google Scholar
  36. Eyles, Don E. 1963. “The Species of Simian Malaria: Taxonomy, Morphology, Life Cycle, and Geographical Distribution of the Monkey Species.” The Journal of Parasitology 49: 863–887.Google Scholar
  37. Eyles, Don E., Robert Coatney, G., and Getz, Morton E. 1960. “Vivax-Type Malaria Parasite of Macaques Transmissible to Man.” Science 132: 1812–1813.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Eyles, Mary Stipe. (n.d.). I’ve been Writing a Book Since I was Ten Years Old: The Memoirs of Mary Stipe Eyles.Google Scholar
  39. Garnham, P.C.C. Papers of Percy Cyril Claude Garnham, PP/PCG, Wellcome Collection.Google Scholar
  40. Garnham, P.C.C. 1959. “The Evolution of the Zoonoses.” Medical Press 241: 251–256.Google Scholar
  41. Garnham, P.C.C. 1963. “Distribution of Simian Malaria Parasites in Various Hosts.” The Journal of Parasitology 49: 905–911.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Garnham, P.C.C. 1966. Malaria Parasites and Other Haemosporidia. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  43. Garnham, P.C.C. 1971. Progress in Parasitology. University of London, Heath Clark Lectures 1968. London: The Athlone Press.Google Scholar
  44. Gilmore, C.P. 1966. Malaria Wins Round 2: For Every Problem Solved Two New Ones Come Along. New York Times Magazine, 25 September 1966, p. 47.Google Scholar
  45. Guerrini, Anita. 2003. Experimenting with Humans and Animals: From Galen to Animal Rights. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Hagen, Joel. 2009. “Descended from Darwin? George Gaylord Simpson, Morris Goodman, and Primate Systematics.” Joe Cain and Michael Ruse (eds.), Descended from Darwin: Insights into American Evolutionary Studies. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society.Google Scholar
  47. Hagen, Joel. 2010. “Waiting for Sequences: Morris Goodman, Immunodiffusion Experiments, and the Origins of Molecular Anthropology.” Journal of the History of Biology 43: 697–725.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Harden, Victoria A. 1985. “Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Research and the Development of the Insect Vector Theory, 1900–1930.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 59: 449–466.Google Scholar
  49. Hegner, Robert. 1924. “Medical Zoology and Human Welfare.” Science 60: 551–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Hegner, Robert. 1928. “The Evolutionary Significance of the Protozoan Parasites of Monkeys and Man.” The Quarterly Review of Biology 3: 225–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Kellogg, Vernon L. 1913. “Ecto-Parasites of the Monkeys, Apes and Man.” Science 38: 601–602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Kohler, Robert. 1994. Lords of the Fly: Drosophila Genetics and the Experimental Life. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  53. Kohler, Robert. 2002. Landscapes and Labscapes: Exploring the Lab-Field Border in Biology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Lainson, R. and Killick-Kendrick, R. 1997. Percy Cyril Claude Garnham, C.M.G. 15 January 1901–25 December 1994: Elected F.R.S. 1964. Biographical Memoirs of the Fellows of the Royal Society 43: 173–192.Google Scholar
  55. Lederer, Susan E. 1997. Subjected to Science: Human Experimentation in America Before the Second World War. Henry E. Sigerist Series in the History of Medicine. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Leonelli, Sabina and Ankeny, Rachel. 2011. “What’s so Special About Model Organisms?’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 42: 313–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Li, Shang-Jen. 2002. “Natural History of Parasitic Disease: Patrick Manson’s Philosophical Method.” Isis 93: 206–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Logan, Cheryl A. 2002. “Before There were Standards: The Role of Test Animals in the Production of Empirical Generality in Physiology.” Journal of the History of Biology 35(329–363): 355.Google Scholar
  59. Löwy, Ilana. 1992. “From Guinea Pigs to Man: The Development of Haffkine’s Anticholera Vaccine.” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 47: 270–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Löwy, Ilana. 2003. “The Experimental Body.” Roger Cooter, John V. Pickstone (ed.), Companion to Medicine in the Twentieth Century. London: Routledge, pp. 435–449.Google Scholar
  61. Lynch, Michael E. 1988. “Sacrifice and the Transformation of the Animal Body into a Scientific Object: Laboratory Culture and Ritual Practice in the Neurosciences.” Social Studies of Science 18: 265–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Mason Dentinger, Rachel. 2009. The Nature of Defense: Coevolutionary Studies, Ecological Interaction, and the Evolution of ‘Natural Insecticides, 1959–1983. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
  63. Mason Dentinger, Rachel. 2013. “Natural” Infection or Not? Host-Specificity in Early-20th-Century Parasitology and Its Implications for Evolutionary and Disease Biolog. Unpublished Paper Given at the 2013 Meeting of the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology, Montpellier, France.Google Scholar
  64. Mason Dentinger, Rachel. 2014. Partners Through Evolution: Linking Humans, Animals, and Parasites in the Early 20th Century. Unpublished Paper Given at the 2014 Meeting of the American Association of the History of Medicine, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  65. Mayr, Ernst. 1952. “Notes on Evolutionary Literature.” Evolution 6: 138–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Mayr, Ernst. 1957. “Evolutionary Aspects of Host Specificity Among Parasites of Vertebrates.” Jean G. Baer (ed.), First Symposium on Host Specificity Among Parasites of Vertebrates. Neuchatel: Imprimerie Paul Attinger S.A., pp. 7–14.Google Scholar
  67. Metcalf, Maynard M. 1929. “Parasites and the Aid They Give in Problems of Taxonomy, Geographical Distribution, and Paleogeography.” Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 81: 1–36.Google Scholar
  68. Méthot, Pierre-Olivier. 2011. “Research Traditions and Evolutionary Explanations in Medicine.” Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 32: 75–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Méthot, Pierre-Olivier. 2012. “Why do Parasites Harm Their Host? On the Origin and Legacy of Theobald Smith’s “Law of Declining Virulence” – 1900–1980.” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 34: 561–601.Google Scholar
  70. Mode, Charles J. 1958. “A Mathematical Model for the Co-Evolution of Obligate Parasites and Their Hosts.” Evolution 12: 158–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Montgomery, Georgina M. 2005. “Place, Practice and Primatology: Clarence Ray Carpenter, Primate Communication and the Development of Field Methodology, 1931–1945.” Journal of the History of Biology 38: 495–533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Packard, Randall M. 2010. The Making of a Tropical Disease: A Short History of Malaria. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  73. Proctor, Robert N. 2004. “Three Roots of Human Recency: Molecular Anthropology, the Refigured Acheulean, and the UNESCO Response to Auschwitz.” L. Daston and F. Vidal (eds.), The Moral Authority of Nature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  74. Rawlins, Richard G. and Kessler, Matt J. (eds.). 1986. The Cayo Santiago Macaques: History, Behavior and Biology. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  75. Schmidt, Leon H. 1979. Interview with G. Robert Coatney. G. Robert Coatney Ph.D., Sc.D., Workers in Tropical Medicine. Bethesda: Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine. Accessed 29 January 2013, at: http://collections.nlm.nih.gov/catalog/nlm:nlmuid-7901256A-vid.
  76. Shortt, Henry E. and Garnham, P.C.C. 1948. “Pre-erythrocytic Stages in Mammalian Malaria Parasites.” Nature 161: 126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Slater, Leo. 2005a. “Malarial Birds: Modeling Infectious Human Disease in Animals.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 79: 261–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Slater, Leo. 2005b. Dr. McWilson Warren Interview, Transcript. Office of NIH History, Oral History Program.Google Scholar
  79. Slater, Leo. 2005c. Dr. William E. Collins Interview, Transcript. Office of NIH History, Oral History Program.Google Scholar
  80. Slater, Leo. 2009. War and Disease: Biomedical Research on Malaria in the Twentieth Century. Princeton: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  81. Strasser, Bruno. 2010. “Laboratories, Museum, and the Comparative Perspective: Alan A. Boyden’s Quest for Objectivity in Serological Taxonomy, 1924–1962.” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 40: 149–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. von Ihering, H. 1891. “On the Ancient Relations Between New Zealand and South America.” Transactions & Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand 24: 431–445.Google Scholar
  83. Wagner-Jauregg, Julius. 1927. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Nobel Lecture, The Treatment of Dementia Paralytica by Malaria Inoculation. Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2013. Web, 7 April 2014. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1927/wagner-jauregg-lecture.html.
  84. Ward, Henry B. 1926. “The Needs and Opportunities in Parasitology.” Science 64: 231–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Warren, McWilson and Wharton, R.H. 1963. “The Vectors of Simian Malaria: Identity, Biology, and Geographical Distribution.” The Journal of Parasitology 49: 892–904.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Warren, McWilson, Cehong, W.H., Fredericks, H.K., and Robert Coatney, G. 1970. “Cycles of Jungle Malaria in West Malaysia.” American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 19: 383–393.Google Scholar
  87. White, N.J. 2008. “Plasmodium knowlesi: The Fifth Human Malaria Parasite.” Clinical Infectious Disease 46: 172–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. World Health Organization. 1959. Expert Committee on Malaria, Seventh Report. WHO/Mal/210.Google Scholar
  89. World Health Organization. 1961. Expert Committee on Malaria, Eighth Report, World Health Organization Technical Report Series, No. 205. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  90. World Health Organization. 1961. Joint WHO/FAO Expert Committee on Zoonoses, Second Report, World Health Organization Technical Report Series, No. 169, Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  91. Zuckerman, Solly. 1933. Functional Affinities of Man, Monkeys, and Apes. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2015

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryKing’s College LondonStrand, LondonUK

Personalised recommendations