Megan Coffee, MD, PhD, is a former writer for Verywell Health covering infectious disease. She's worked in infectious disease research and care in multiple places around the globe from San Francisco to Haiti to Zimbabwe. She's particularly interested in making sure patients have the information they need to be as healthy as they can be.
Dr. Coffee first started research in infectious disease over 15 years ago. She was interested in understanding the dynamics and spread of infectious diseases like HIV. She studied computer models of disease spread in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and later went on to study influenza dynamics. She's published in multiple journals, including AIDS. She is a clinical doctor as well, working with patients with infectious diseases, primarily HIV and TB. She was the doctor responsible for a hospital ward providing critical care services for TB patients in Port-Au-Prince for four years following a major earthquake.
Dr. Coffee attended Harvard University where she graduated with an undergraduate degree in chemistry. She then went on to receive a PhD (DPhil) from Oxford University where she worked on mathematical models of infectious disease. She subsequently received an MD from Harvard University. She completed her residency in internal medicine was at Massachusetts General Hospital and her fellowship in infectious disease at University of California, San Francisco, where she was a visiting research fellow at the Center for Infectious Disease and Emergency Readiness the University of California, Berkeley.
As an infectious disease physician, my work is to put myself out of work, to stop the spread of infectious disease. We all breathe, we all eat, we all travel. We are all susceptible to infectious diseases. Some of us, sometimes the most vulnerable, are the most susceptible.
Bacteria, viruses, parasites are everywhere. But it's rarely a problem. Our immune systems protect us. More of the cells in our body are bacterial than human. Bacteria are outnumbered by viruses. We rarely notice; they usually don't cause a problem. We care when, in those rare instances, infections do affect us.
How diseases spread tells us a lot about ourselves, as infections spread along travel routes and through our food, by contacts at school and in the home. Understanding diseases is often our best protection. Much of infectious disease protection comes from arming ourselves with the best information. It's the job of infectious disease doctors to help provide this information.