Scientists make hilarious movie posters to punch disease in the face.

Right now, the world of infectious disease is looking incredibly optimistic.

A lab tech preps a test. Photo by Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images.

I know that might sound kind of weird. We don't often hear the words "infectious disease" and immediately feel all excited and hopeful. But we're actually making tremendous, tangible, changing-someone's-life progress every day.


"The more time you spend with folks working in the field, the more optimistic you become," said Trevor DeWitt, who works at the Center for Infectious Disease Research (CIDR), a research institute headquartered in Seattle.

In fact, the fight is looking so strong that the scientists at the CIDR decided to illustrate their battles in the style of epic movies.

Inspired by the fight against disease — as well as comics and classic movies — the center teamed up with a creative partner to created four colorful posters that capture the field's passion and optimism.

The posters help show how, though we laypeople might think of studying infectious disease as a never-ending, depressing slog through test tubes, microscopes, and hospital sick bays, this fight is actually every bit as exciting as any epic movie battle scene.

Check them out:

1. You can't run forever, HIV!

Image from the Center for Infectious Disease Research, used with permission.

Oh, by the way, this optimism isn't just horsefeathers.

Because while HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) once seemed insurmountable, today better education, better prevention, and new, better antiviral medications are putting this disease on the run. We may even see a HIV vaccine in the near future!

2. Time's up, malaria!

Image from the Center for Infectious Disease Research, used with permission.

Over 3 billion people are at risk of contracting malaria, which is a parasitic infection carried by mosquitoes. That might seem too big to fight, but actually, in the last 15 years, our hard work has been able to drop incidence rates by 37% and death rates by 60%!

3. Good riddance, tuberculosis!

Image from the Center for Infectious Disease Research, used with permission.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease that often attacks the lungs. It killed about 1.5 million people in 2014. That's a lot, but the World Health Organization has set a goal to eliminate 90% of infections by 2035, and with international support and a suite of powerful antibiotics, we might be able to pull it off!

4. You're finished, sleeping sickness!

Image from the Center for Infectious Disease Research, used with permission.

Sleeping sickness is a parasitic infection carried by tsetse flies, which are found in sub-Saharan Africa. Thanks to sustained control efforts, cases have been steadily dropping — between 2000 and 2013, the new-case infection rate dropped 73%!

This fight is proof that when we all join forces, there's very little we can't do.

"The pace of discovery is quickening every single day," DeWitt said, noting the ability to share knowledge, inspiration, and technology has completely changed the infectious disease game. "From our view, there's never been a better time for scientific discovery than right now."

The center hopes that by publishing these posters, they can highlight a few of the less flashy, cable-newsy diseases. But more than that, they hope these posters help people become inspired to join the fight, whether through science, the creative arts, or simply pushing the government for more scientific funding.

DeWitt also said they're hoping to publish another poster series soon. And I, for one, can't wait to see them.

Heroes
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular