The Perfect Predator

A Scientist's Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug: A Memoir


By Steffanie Strathdee

By Thomas Patterson

With Teresa Barker

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$23.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around November 10, 2020. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

An electrifying memoir of one woman’s extraordinary effort to save her husband’s life-and the discovery of a forgotten cure that has the potential to save millions more.

“A memoir that reads like a thriller.” –New York Times Book Review

“A fascinating and terrifying peek into the devastating outcomes of antibiotic misuseand what happens when standard health care falls short.” Scientific American

Epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee and her husband, psychologist Tom Patterson, were vacationing in Egypt when Tom came down with a stomach bug. What at first seemed like a case of food poisoning quickly turned critical, and by the time Tom had been transferred via emergency medevac to the world-class medical center at UC San Diego, where both he and Steffanie worked, blood work revealed why modern medicine was failing: Tom was fighting one of the most dangerous, antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the world.

Frantic, Steffanie combed through research old and new and came across phage therapy: the idea that the right virus, aka “the perfect predator,” can kill even the most lethal bacteria. Phage treatment had fallen out of favor almost 100 years ago, after antibiotic use went mainstream. Now, with time running out, Steffanie appealed to phage researchers all over the world for help. She found allies at the FDA, researchers from Texas A&M, and a clandestine Navy biomedical center — and together they resurrected a forgotten cure.

A nail-biting medical mystery, The Perfect Predator is a story of love and survival against all odds, and the (re)discovery of a powerful new weapon in the global superbug crisis.

  • Amazon, "Best Books of 2019 (Science)"
    Goodreads Choice Awards, Semifinalist (Science & Technology)

    STAT News, "Best Health and Science Books to Read This Summer"
  • "A fascinating and terrifying peek into the devastating outcomes of antibiotic misuse -- and what happens when standard health care falls short."
    Scientific American
  • "[A] gripping and intriguing medical thriller...This page-turner of a couple's determination to survive also serves as a dire warning regarding the consequences of the overuse of antibiotics."
    Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • "A thriller, a detective story, and at its core a profound romance, The Perfect Predator is [a] breathtaking story.... It's a warning of the havoc that awaits us as antibiotics lose their power, and a glimpse of the science that could hold that dark future at bay - if we can summon the funding and the political will to create it."
    Maryn McKenna, Senior Fellow of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University and author of Big Chicken and Superbug
  • "At once terrifying and inspiring, The Perfect Predator is a brilliant race-against-the-clock medical thriller that is also a celebration of love, commitment, and the power of scientific collaboration."
    Steven Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of Where Good Ideas Come From and The Ghost Map
  • "A remarkable story of love, resilience, the science of discovery, and quite possibly the future of medicine."
    Richard Horton, FRCP, FMedSci, Editor-in-Chief, The Lancet
  • "One of the single most compelling personal stories we've ever heard."
    Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, authors of The Essential Guide to Getting yourBook Published
  • "A real-life medical paced [and] the writing is always infused with humor, hope, and intelligence, and the couple's remarkable story is grounded in real-life details that bring readers directly into their world. Dark, surreal poetic."
    Kirkus Reviews
  • "The Perfect Predator is a compelling and heart-wrenching medical drama that would be completely unbelievable - if it weren't 100% true! Strathdee and Patterson masterfully weave together the personal, medical, and scientific strands of their battle against one of the world's worst superbugs, bringing not just Patterson, but a century-old medical technology back from the brink of death. This first-hand account of the front lines of the battle against the scourge of antimicrobial resistance underscores the human cost underlying the bland statistics."
    Rob Knight, PhD, Director, Center for Microbiome Innovation, University of California San Diego and author of Follow Your Gut and Dirt Is Good
  • "[A] riveting tale...The saga reads like a thriller....Remarkable passages from Patterson [describe] how he interpreted events through veils of feverish delirium, pain-killer fog, and coma."
    Laurie Garrett, The Lancet
  • "The story of a woman fighting for her husband's life is interesting in and of itself, but this book is so much more than that. It was written by a scientist who used her public health training to discover a solution to a problem; it just so happens that the solution she found may be an answer to one of the most urgent health problems in the world."
    American Journal of Public Health
  • "[A] real page-turner."
    Science News
  • "I simply could not put down the book. It reads like a fast-paced, detective thriller."
    Madhukar Pai, MD, PhD, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Epidemiology & Global Health, McGill University, Montreal
  • "[A] medical thriller for the antibiotic-resistant age."
  • "[Tom's case is a] case that may mark a turning point in medicine."
    American Association of Medical Colleges Newsletter
  • "A riveting, pulse-pounding medical thriller that just happens to be true. Steffanie Strathdee is expert at weaving science into compulsively readable prose."
    Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of THE SHAPE OFNIGHT
  • "...A memoir that reads like a thriller."
    New York Times Book Review
  • "If you're looking for a gift for a young person currently considering a career in science or medicine, this is the book to buy."
    AJTMH journal
  • "The Perfect Predator may be the best and most important book I've ever read... [A] personal and moving odyssey."
    Louis R. Franzini, The Florida-Times Union

On Sale
Nov 10, 2020
Page Count
352 pages
Hachette Books

Steffanie Strathdee

About the Author

Steffanie Strathdee, PhD. Dr. Steffanie Strathdee obtained her BSc, MSc, and PhD from the University of Toronto. A dual citizen of Canada and the United States, she is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and Professor and Harold Simon Chair at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine. She also directs the UC San Diego Global Health Institute and is an Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins and Simon Fraser Universities. Steffanie is an infectious disease epidemiologist who has 20 years’ experience and over 600 peer-reviewed publications on the prevention of HIV, sexually transmitted infection, and viral hepatitis among marginalized populations. She has led studies of populations at high risk of acquiring HIV in both domestic and international settings. She holds a prestigious MERIT award granted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse for her prospective study of people who inject drugs in Tijuana, Mexico. In 2009, she and her team were awarded the Leadership Award in International Collaboration from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2012, she received UC San Diego’s inaugural postdoctoral mentoring award and in 2013 received a mentoring award from the National Hispanic Science Network.



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Thomas Patterson

About the Author

Thomas Patterson, PhD. Dr. Tom Patterson obtained his AB from San Diego State University, his MSc from the University of Georgia, and his PhD from UC Riverside. Tom is an evolutionary sociobiologist and an experimental psychologist. He is a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at UC San Diego and has renowned expertise on behavioral interventions among HIV-positive persons and those at high risk of acquiring HIV and sexually transmitted infections. He developed a scale to assess everyday functioning in schizophrenia that has been mandated by the FDA and is in wide use, having been translated into 26 languages. He has held numerous grant awards from multiple sources and was the first researcher to be awarded a grant from NIH to develop and evaluate an intervention to reduce HIV transmission behaviors among HIV-positive drug users. He has taught a variety of courses including research design, advanced statistics, and human sexuality. He received a career achievement award from the National Hispanic Science Network in 2014.

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