Friday, April 27, 2012

CVGS Program Summary - Dr. Steven Baird

Dr. Steven Baird presented "Diseases That Ravaged Our Ancestors" at the Chula Vista  Genealogical Society program meeting on Wednesday, 25 April 2012.  Steve's CV was published in CVGS Program Meeting on 25 April - Dr. Steven Baird.

Dr. Baird started his presentation with a list of the top ten causes of death in the USA in 1860, and compared them to 1900, 1970 and 1990.  Many of the earlier causes (tuberculosis, diarrhea, cholera, infantile convulsions, diphtheria, dysentery, scarlet fever) have been significantly reduced or eliminated by 1970, and replaced by heart disease, cancer, accidents/suicide, diabetes, arteriosclerosis and cirrhosis.

Next was a review of some of the Great Killers of the Past, with photographs of disease presentation in gruesome living color.  Treated were the Plague, Syphilis, Influenza, Tuberculosis, Smallpox, Cholera and Bubonic Plague.  He noted that Syphilis was transported from the Americas to Europe after 1492, but that Smallpox was transmitted the other way.  Steve also discussed the transmission of diseases between humans and animals.

As noted in his CV, Steve writes and sings songs about science.  He treated us to "Intelligent Design" accompanied by his guitar.  Steve's website is

The last part of the presentation was a survey of the state of the art in genetics.  He discussed how genealogists can use the results of Y-chromosome, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA tests.  Lastly, Steve discussed the potential for curing diseases through genetic manipulation.  He recommended that concerned persons should talk to their doctors about genetic treatments.  

This talk was both entertaining and fascinating because of the subject, and Dr. Baird's expertise and presentation skills (both oral and visual).  Steve's PowerPoint presentation was offered to attendees with a flash drive. 


Genealady said...

Sounds like a wonderful presentation! I wish I could have seen it! Dr. Baird should do a webinar version! :)

Mariann said...

In our book club here, we read The Great Influenza by John M. Barry--the "Spanish" influenza of 1918. Here "modern" science first confronts epidemics--a kind of crossover between our ancestors' diseases and our own.