Stephen E Malawista

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 20 November 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6796
  1. Laura Newman, New York
  1. newman{at}

Rheumatologist whose work led to the discovery and treatment of Lyme disease

Stephen Malawista is remembered for identifying Lyme disease with his fellow researcher, Alan Steere. Lyme, Old Lyme, and East Haddam, in the eastern part of Connecticut, were at the centre of the first cluster of cases. The condition was initially known as “Lyme arthritis,” but Malawista later termed it “Lyme disease” because of its variable presentation. Both terms drew the ire of people in the area who worried that the value of their property would decline.

Through meticulous epidemiological and laboratory research, Malawista and Steere learnt that the disease stemmed from a pathogen transmitted by ticks. It was a shift in thinking: it had been thought that Lyme disease was caused by a virus. In 1977 they published the landmark paper that identified Lyme disease as a …

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