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Cambridge Infectious Diseases

The central resource for infectious disease researchers in Cambridge

Studying at Cambridge

 

Dr. Piers D Mitchell

Dr. Piers D Mitchell

1) Affiliated Lecturer in Biological Anthropology

2) Hospital Consultant (specialist) in NHS

Research interest: parasite infestation of humans throughout our evolution.

Piers Mitchell is interested in taking PhD students.

Division of Biological Anthropology
Department of Archaeology and Anthropology
The Henry Wellcome Building
Fitzwilliam Street

Cambridge CB2 1QH

Biography:

Piers is qualified in medicine, in biological anthropology and medical history.

  • He has taught as a lecturer at Imperial College London and the University of Sydney before moving to Cambridge in 2009. 
  • He runs a course on Human Evolution and Health in the Division of Biological Anthropology. 
  • Piers is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Paleopathology, the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, PostMedieval: a Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies, and the book series Studies in Early Medicine, published by Archaeopress, Oxford.

Research themes

Pathogen Biology and Evolution:
Epidemiology and mathematical modelling:
Eukaryotic pathogens:

Parasite infestation of humans throughout our evolution

Departments and Institutes

Biological Anthropology:
Affiliated Lecturer

Research Interests

 

1) Ancient Parasites and Dysentery

  • Piers' research interest is to identify when and how parasites and dysentery came to cause disease in humans, how we spread these parasites around the planet, and what impact these diseases had upon human evolution and civilizations in the past.
  • To this end he undertakes laboratory research in the Division of Biological Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. Techniques employed are predominantly light microscopy and and ELISA. Samples analysed are from archaeological excavations around the world, including latrines, cesspools, coprolites and the sediment from the pelvic area of human skeletal remains from past populations.

 

 2) Paleopathology

  • Piers also studies infectious disease from the lesions in human skeletal remains - e.g. treponemal disease (syphilis), tuberculosis, leprosy.

Equipment

  • Binding assays

Key Publications

Books on Infectious Disease:

Mitchell, P.D. and Le Bailly, M. Parasites in Past Civilisations and their Impact Upon Health. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge - book contract - manuscript for submission 2014, publication 2015.

Mitchell, P.D. (ed.) Sanitation, Latrines and Intestinal Parasites in Past Populations. Ashgate: Farnham. Articles submitted, publication due 2014.

 

Selected Articles on Infectious Disease:

Anastasiou, E., Mitchell, P.D. (2013) Paleopathology and genes: investigating the genetics of infectious diseases in excavated human skeletal remains and mummies from past populations. Gene 528(1): 33-40.

Anastasiou, E., Mitchell, P.D. (2013) Human intestinal parasites from a latrine in the 12th century Frankish castle of Saranda Kolones in Cyprus. International Journal of Paleopathology 3: 218-23.

Anastasiou, E. Mitchell, P.D. (2013) Simplifying the process for extracting parasitic worm eggs from cesspool and latrine sediments: a trial comparing the efficacy of widely used techniques for disaggregation. International Journal of Paleopathology 3: 204-7.

Mitchell, P.D., Yeh, H.-Y., Appleby, J., Buckley, R. (2013) The intestinal parasites of King Richard III. The Lancet 382: 888.

Mitchell, P.D. (2013) The origins of human parasites: exploring the evidence for endoparasitism throughout human evolution. International Journal of Paleopathology 3: 191-98.

Mitchell, P.D. (2013) Editorial: the importance of research into ancient parasites. International Journal of Paleopathology 3: 189-190.

Mitchell, P.D., Anastasiou, E., Syon, D. (2011) Human intestinal parasites in crusader Acre: evidence for migration with disease in the Medieval Period. International Journal of Paleopathology 1: 132-37.

Mitchell, P.D. (2011) Retrospective diagnosis, and the use of historical texts for investigating disease in the past. International Journal of Paleopathology 1: 81-88.

Mitchell, P.D. The spread of disease with the crusades. In: Between Text and Patient: The Medical Enterprise in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Ed. B. Nance and E.F. Glaze. Florence: Sismel 2011, p.309-330.

Mitchell, P.D., Stern, E., Tepper, Y. (2008) Dysentery in the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem: an ELISA analysis of two medieval latrines in the city of Acre (Israel). Journal of Archaeological Science 35(7): 1849-53. This study was reported in the news section of Science magazine, 30 May 2008, 320: 1139.

Mitchell, P.D., Huntley, J., Sterns, E. Bioarchaeological analysis of the 13th century latrines of the crusader hospital of St. John at Acre, Israel. In: Mallia-Milanes, V. (ed) The Military Orders: volume 3. Their History and Heritage. Aldershot: Ashgate 2008 p.213-23.

Mitchell, P.D., Tepper, Y. (2007) Intestinal parasitic worm eggs from a crusader period cesspool in the city of Acre (Israel). Levant 39: 91-5.

Mitchell, P.D. (2006) Child health in the crusader period inhabitants of Tel Jezreel, Israel. Levant 38: 37-44.

Mitchell, P.D. (2003) Pre-Columbian treponemal disease from 14th century AD Safed, Israel and the implications for the medieval eastern Mediterranean. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 121(2): 117-24.

Mitchell, P.D. The myth of the spread of leprosy with the crusades. In: The Past and Present of Leprosy. C. Roberts, K. Manchester, M. Lewis (eds). Oxford: Archaeopress. 2002 pp.175-81.

Mitchell, P.D. An evaluation of the leprosy of King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem in the context of the mediaeval world. Appendix in: B. Hamilton, The Leper King and his Heirs: Baldwin IV and the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2000 pp.245-58.