the race

The Race proposes a re-conceptualisation of who we are as first researched in this context by E. O. Wilson in the early twentieth century. This was later contextualised in David Strachan’s, (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) ‘Hygiene Hypothesis’ in 1989, which predicts that our hygienic practice is unhealthy, making us immunologically weak and the cause of conditions such as asthma and eczema. The ‘Hygiene Hypothesis’ was later built on by Graham Rook, professor at the Centre for Infectious Diseases into the ‘Microbal Exposure Hypothesis’, better known as the ‘Old Friends Hypothesis’. Instead, it considers us to be healthier when exposed to the parasites, bacteria and microbes we have co-evolved with. Rook identified that “various ‘old friends’ - microorganisms that were once abundant and harmless, but are now absent from everyday life, thanks to changes in our lifestyle over the past century.” This concept has been reshaped again recently, with the term Human ‘Super-Organism’. This directly responds to results from the Human Genome Sequencing Project, which discovered that we are so much greater than our genetics and our human cells are outnumbered 10 to 1 by those of microbes, parasites and bacteria living on and in us.
Hadley, Caroline. Should auld acquaintance be forgot…, EMBO reports,, 2004