In the 1600s Peter Sartorius, a citizen and surgeon of Strasbourg, compared syphilis to ‘an angry dog’, which viciously threatened communities. These talks investigate the past, and present, of this notorious sexually transmitted disease. From stereotypes and scaremongering to laboratories and diagnostics.

Mona O’Brien (PhD student, University of Glasgow) explores how Europeans came to understand syphilis and some of the measures that they enacted in an attempt to control it during the period from the first pandemic outbreak (c.1495) until the 17th century.


Tracey Jolliffe (Biomedical scientist, NHS) discusses the science of syphilis in the 21st century. She explores the use of antibiotics to treat this disease and the health problems it can cause. From fatality rates to laboratory diagnosis, Jolliffe uncovers the current picture of syphilis in Scotland.


This event was organised as a collaboration between the Edinburgh Skeptics Society and the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.