Dickson Despommier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Dickson D. Despommier
Dickson Despommier underground.JPG
Dickson Despommier (2014).
Born (1940-06-05) June 5, 1940 (age 79)
Alma materColumbia University, Medical Parasitology
University of Notre Dame, Microbiology
Known forVertical Farming
Medical Ecology of West Nile Virus
Urban Sustainable Agricultural Initiatives
Emerging Infectious Disease Ecology
The Trichinella Page
Medica Ecology
The Vertical Farm
AwardsAmerican Medical Student Association National Teaching Award 2003
Scientific career
InstitutionsColumbia University Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health and Department of Microbiology, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
ThesisThe in vivo and in vitro analysis of acquired resistance to Trichinella spiralis infections in mice. (1967)
InfluencedRené Dubos, Miklos Muller, Vincent Racaniello
Dickson Despommier at Pop!Tech 2008

Dickson D. Despommier (born June 5, 1940[1]) is an emeritus professor of microbiology and Public Health at Columbia University. From 1971-2009, he conducted research on intracellular parasitism and taught courses on parasitic diseases, medical ecology and ecology. In recent years, Despommier has received considerable media coverage for his ideas on vertical farming.[2][3] He developed his concept of vertical farming over a 10-year period with graduate students in a medical ecology class beginning in 1999, with work continued by designer Chris Jacobs and Ontarian eco-architects like Gordon Graff[4][5] from the University of Waterloo's School of Architecture.

Despommier is also co-host of three popular podcasts along with Vincent Racaniello, namely TWIV (This Week in Virology), TWIP (This Week in Parasitism) and Urban Agriculture.[6]


Despommier has research interest in the ecotone, a transition area between two biomes, as a zone of high disease transmission and also in the spread of schistosomiasis, malaria, and a variety of helminths (ascaris, hookworm, trichuris) in agricultural areas. Despommier has studied the ecology of West Nile virus with a focus on related patterns of weather.[1][7]

Research and findings on Trichinella spiralis, the causative agent of trichinosis, have resulted in a large body of literature. Despommier is especially known for his research findings in this area which led to numerous advances in the understanding of the "muscle stage" of the organism, and how it maintains itself in the host for long periods of time in the Nurse cell/parasite complex (weeks to years in some cases).

Trichinella spiralis research publications[edit]

  • Despommier, Dickson D.; Kajima, Masahiro; Wostmann, Bernard S. (June 1967). "Ferritin-Conjugated Antibody Studies on the Larvae of Trichinella spiralis". The Journal of Parasitology. 53 (3): 618–24. doi:10.2307/3276727. ISSN 0022-3395. JSTOR 3276727. PMID 6026852.
  • Despommier, Dickson D.; Wostmann, Bernard S. (October 1968). "Diffusion chambers for inducing immunity to Trichinella spiralis in mice". Experimental Parasitology. 23 (2): 228–233. doi:10.1016/0014-4894(68)90062-3. ISSN 0014-4894.
  • Dennis, David T.; Despommier, Dickson D.; Davis, Norma (October 1970). "Infectivity of the Newborn Larva of Trichinella spiralis in the Rat". The Journal of Parasitology. 56 (5): 974. doi:10.2307/3277516. ISSN 0022-3395. JSTOR 3277516.
  • Despommier, Dickson; Weisbroth, Steven; Fass, Christopher (April 1974). "Circulating Eosinophils and Trichinosis in the Rat: The Parasitic Stage Responsible for Induction during Infection". The Journal of Parasitology. 60 (2): 280. doi:10.2307/3278465. ISSN 0022-3395. JSTOR 3278465.
  • Despommier, Dickson; Aron, Lorna; Turgeon, Livia (February 1975). "Trichinella spiralis: Growth of the intracellular (muscle) larva". Experimental Parasitology. 37 (1): 108–116. doi:10.1016/0014-4894(75)90058-2. ISSN 0014-4894.
  • Feldman, Alan; Rosenkrantz, Herbert S.; Despommier, Dickson (June 1975). "Guanine-Cytosine Content of DNA from the Mature Muscle Larva of Trichinella spiralis as Determined from Buoyant Density and Thermal-Helix Coil Transition Measurements". The Journal of Parasitology. 61 (3): 570–571. doi:10.2307/3279355. JSTOR 3279355.
  • Despommier, Dickson D.; Müller, Miklós (October 1976). "The Stichosome and Its Secretion Granules in the Mature Muscle Larva of Trichinella spiralis". The Journal of Parasitology. 62 (5): 775–785. doi:10.2307/3278960. JSTOR 3278960.
  • Despommier, D. D.; Campbell, W. C.; Blair, L. S. (February 1977). "The in vivo and in vitro ananlysis of immunity to Trichinella spiralis in mice and rats". Parasitology. 74 (1): 109–119. doi:10.1017/S0031182000047570.
  • Despommier, Dickson D.; Sukhdeo, Michael; Meerovitch, Eugene (April 1978). "Trichinella spiralis: Site selection by the larva during the enteral phase of infection in mice". Experimental Parasitology. 44 (2): 209–215. doi:10.1016/0014-4894(78)90100-5. ISSN 0014-4894.
  • Bell, R. G.; McGregor, D. D.; Despommier, D. D. (April 1979). "Trichinella spiralis: Mediation of the intestinal component of protective immunity in the rat by multiple, phase-specific, antiparasitic responses". Experimental Parasitology. 47 (2): 140–157. doi:10.1016/0014-4894(79)90068-7. ISSN 0014-4894.
  • Despommier, Dickson D.; Laccetti, Anthony (April 1981). "Trichinella spiralis: Proteins and antigens isolated from a large-particle fraction derived from the muscle larva". Experimental Parasitology. 51 (2): 279–295. doi:10.1016/0014-4894(81)90116-8. ISSN 0014-4894.
  • Despommier, Dickson D.; Laccetti, Anthony (June 1981). "Trichinella spiralis: Partial Characterization of Antigens Isolated by Immuno-Affinity Chromatography from the Large-Particle Fraction of the Muscle Larvae". The Journal of Parasitology. 67 (3): 332–339. doi:10.2307/3280552. JSTOR 3280552.
  • Despommier, D.d. (September 1981). "Partial purification and characterization of protection-inducing antigens from the muscle larva of Trichinella spiralis by molecular sizing chromatography and preparative flatbed isoelectric focusing". Parasite Immunology. 3 (3): 261–272. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3024.1981.tb00405.x. ISSN 1365-3024.
  • Burnham, Jeffrey C.; Despommier, Dickson D. (April 1984). "Development of the Male Genitalia of Trichinella spiralis during the Enteral Phase of Infection in the Mouse: An SEM Study". The Journal of Parasitology. 70 (2): 310–311. doi:10.2307/3281885. JSTOR 3281885.
  • Capo, Virginia; Despommier, Dickson D.; Silberstein, David S. (December 1984). "The Site of Ecdysis of the L1 Larva of Trichinella spiralis". The Journal of Parasitology. 70 (6): 992–994. doi:10.2307/3281660. JSTOR 3281660.
  • Silberstein, David S.; Despommier, Dickson D. (August 1985). "Immunization with Purified Antigens Protects Mice from Lethal Infection with Trichinella spiralis". The Journal of Parasitology. 71 (4): 516–517. doi:10.2307/3281550. JSTOR 3281550.
  • Pincus, S. H.; Cammarata, P. V.; Delima, M.; Despommier, D. (April 1986). "Eosinophilia in Murine Trichinellosis". The Journal of Parasitology. 72 (2): 321–325. doi:10.2307/3281612. JSTOR 3281612.
  • Capó, Virginia; Silberstein, David; Despommier, Dickson D. (December 1986). "Immunocytolocalization of Two Protection-Inducing Antigens of Trichinella spiralis during Its Enteral Phase in Immune and Non-Immune Mice". The Journal of Parasitology. 72 (6): 931–938. doi:10.2307/3281847. JSTOR 3281847.
  • Stewart, George L.; Despommier, Dickson D.; Burnham, Jeffrey; Raines, Karen M. (April 1987). "Trichinella spiralis: Behavior, structure, and biochemistry of larvae following exposure to components of the host enteric environment". Experimental Parasitology. 63 (2): 195–204. doi:10.1016/0014-4894(87)90162-7. ISSN 0014-4894.
  • Despommier, Dickson D.; Gold, Allen M.; Buck, Stephen W.; Capo, Virginia; Silberstein, David (July 1990). "Trichinella spiralis: Secreted antigen of the infective L1 larva localizes to the cytoplasm and nucleoplasm of infected host cells". Experimental Parasitology. 71 (1): 27–38. doi:10.1016/0014-4894(90)90005-W. ISSN 0014-4894.
  • Gold, Allen M.; Despommier, Dickson D.; Buck, Stephen W. (July 1990). "Partial characterization of two antigens secreted by L1 larvae of Trichinella spiralis". Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology. 41 (2): 187–196. doi:10.1016/0166-6851(90)90181-K. ISSN 0166-6851.
  • Baruch, Alice M.; Despommier, Dickson D. (February 1991). "Blood Vessels in Trichinella spiralis Infections: A Study Using Vascular Casts". The Journal of Parasitology. 77 (1): 99–103. doi:10.2307/3282565. JSTOR 3282565.
  • Despommier, Dickson; Symmans, W. Fraser; Dell, Ralph (April 1991). "Changes in Nurse Cell Nuclei during Synchronous Infection with Trichinella spiralis". The Journal of Parasitology. 77 (2): 290–295. doi:10.2307/3283099. JSTOR 3283099.
  • Despommier, Dickson D. (August 1993). "Trichinella spiralis and the Concept of Niche". The Journal of Parasitology. 79 (4): 472–482. doi:10.2307/3283370. JSTOR 3283370.
  • Jasmer, Douglas P.; Yao, Sufang; Vassilatis, Demetris; Despommier, Dickson; Neary, Susan M. (October 1994). "Failure to detect Trichinella spiralis p43 in isolated host nuclei and in irradiated larvae of infected muscle cells which express the infected cell phenotype". Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology. 67 (2): 225–234. doi:10.1016/0166-6851(94)00131-6. ISSN 0166-6851.
  • Montgomery, J.; Feldman, A.; Despommier, D. D.; Stewart, G. L.; Haehling, E. (August 1995). "A Method for Isolation and Partial Purification of Trichinella spiralis Nurse Cells". The Journal of Parasitology. 81 (4): 649–652. doi:10.2307/3283871. JSTOR 3283871.
  • Vassilatis, Demetrios K.; Polvere, Ramona I.; Despommier, Dickson D.; Gold, Allen M.; Van der Ploeg, Lex H. T. (June 1996). "Developmental expression of a 43-kDa secreted glycoprotein from Trichinella spiralis". Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology. 78 (1–2): 13–23. doi:10.1016/S0166-6851(96)02595-9. ISSN 0166-6851.
  • Polvere, Ramona I.; Kabbash, Christina A.; Capó, Virginia A.; Kadan, Ilan; Despommier, Dickson D. (July 1997). "Trichinella spiralis:Synthesis of Type IV and Type VI Collagen during Nurse Cell Formation". Experimental Parasitology. 86 (3): 191–199. doi:10.1006/expr.1997.4180. ISSN 0014-4894.
  • Capó, Virginia A.; Despommier, Dickson D.; Polvere, Ramona I. (April 1998). "Trichinella spiralis: Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Is Up-Regulated within the Nurse Cell during the Early Phase of Its Formation". The Journal of Parasitology. 84 (2): 209–214. doi:10.2307/3284472. JSTOR 3284472.

Vertical farming[edit]

Despommier is concerned about protecting food crops from severe weather events such as floods and droughts. He has explored the feasibility of raising crops indoors in multistory buildings within the urban landscape.[1]

In June, 2008 Despommier appeared on the "Colbert Report", where he described the concept of vertical farming to Stephen Colbert.[8][9]

Concepts of medical ecology, a course taught by Despommier, is summarized in 18 presentations.[10]


Despommier has authored or co-authored ten books:


Despommier is also a photographer. He received the following photography awards:

  • "First place in photography", Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit, Fall 2004 – "Portals"
  • "Highest award in show", Salmagundi Club, Fall 2006. – "Mocha Latte Water buffalo"


  1. ^ a b c "Dickson Despommier's Profile". Eoearth.org. Archived from the original on August 26, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
  2. ^ Venkataraman, Bina (July 15, 2008). "Country, the City Version: Farms in the Sky Gain New Interest". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Walsh, Bryan (December 11, 2008). "Vertical Farming". Time.
  4. ^ Whyte, Murray (July 27, 2008). "Is high rise farming in Toronto's future?". Toronto Star.
  5. ^ Alter, Lloyd (June 14, 2007). "Sky Farm Proposed for Downtown Toronto". TreeHugger.com.
  6. ^ "Urban Agriculture". Urban Agriculture. MicrobeTV. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  7. ^ Despommier, Dickson D. (2001). West Nile Story. Apple Trees Productions. ISBN 978-0-9700027-1-6.
  8. ^ Ferguson, DB (June 13, 2008). "Episode 4078". NoFactZone.net.
  9. ^ Despommier, Dickson; Colbert, Stephen (June 12, 2008). "Dickson Despommier". Colbert Report.
  10. ^ Dickson, Despommier (2004). "Medical Ecology". Medical Ecology.org.

External links[edit]