Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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Kristina Talbert-Slagle ’10PhD: germ warfare

You often hear disease germs compared to an invading army. Kristina Talbert-Slagle ’10PhD thinks the analogy works both ways.

"A healthy body, like a healthy nation, contains many systems that need to work together in order to defend against threats," argues Talbert-Slagle, an associate research scientist at the School of Public Health and the Yale Global Health Leadership Institute. "A breakdown of these systems will render both a body and a nation susceptible to invasion—be it insurgency or infection."

On December 19, Talbert-Slagle allied with ex-general Stan McChrystal to offer "Lessons on Counterinsurgency from the Human Body" at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. They compared the AIDS epidemic, which Talbert-Slagle studies, to the Taliban in Afghanistan, where McChrystal commanded US troops until a Rolling Stone interview got him fired. (He now teaches a course on leadership at Yale's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.)

"Sustained stability is essential in both the health of a nation and the health of a body," Talbert-Slagle writes in a blog post. "In Afghanistan, stability is sought by keeping schools open, providing access to electricity, water, and sanitation and aiding farmers as well as in targeting insurgents. To combat AIDS, funding, education and research also prove key factors in building and maintaining health of the body."

If disease equals war, then, we hope it's not redundant to wish you a holiday season of both health and peace.

Filed under Kristina Talbert-Slagle, Stan McChrystal
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