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Putting Together the Puzzle

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A young woman's apartment goes up in flames and a dashing young man saves the day! But to firefighter Louis Garcia, evidence at the scene didn't quite add least, they didn't quite add up to that. He hunts down the source of the blaze.

Family X has suffered for generations from a deadly "curse." Most of the men in the family died, some at very young ages, from a particularly lethal form of pancreatic cancer. Seeking to break the pattern, a father comes to Dr. Teri Brentnall and her research partner Dr. Mary Bronner for answers. Reporter Lu Olkowski follows their decade-long race to find the source of the disease, in which Teri and Mary find themselves drawing blood samples in the bathroom of a sandwich shop and pulling in other researchers to ferret out answers. A dream team of researchers, including Drs. Brentnall and Bronner , Dr. Ru Chen, Dr. Tatjana Crnogorac-Jurcevic, Dr. Sally Down, Dr. Carol Otey, Dr. Kay Pogue-Geile, and Dr. Kara White Moyes, toiled until they could announce a powerful discovery.


Dr. Teri Brentnall, Dr. Mary Bronner, Louis Garcia and Lu Olkowski

Comments [9]

Rochelle Rios from Arizona

What happened to Patient X? Did he get pancreatic cancer after all?

Oct. 15 2012 01:05 PM
Nila from Canada

I'm glad the firefighter was right about the arson case, but it gave me chills because it reminded me of this:

Arson investigations aren't so straightforward after all.

Dec. 22 2009 06:50 PM
Lu from Brooklyn


You are exactly right. Elma is in Western Washington. It was a mistake for us to use that piece of tape.

Hope you forgive us!

Feb. 11 2009 09:38 PM
Marcy from Olympia, WA

Great piece! I'm a huge fan of RadioLab!

I think there's one small mistake is this episode though. Elma is in Western Washington (in fact, not far from me). Unless I misheard the town name, or there's a second Elma on the other side of the state (what are the odds?).

Keep up the fantastic work!!

Feb. 05 2009 04:36 PM
Benjamin Wolinsky from Upper West Side

It seems that the more you try and cover the evidence, the more traces you leave behind.

Dec. 20 2008 05:50 PM
John W from Brooklyn

Great show. Fascinating to hear doctors portrayed in this way.

Dec. 15 2008 10:44 AM
Rikke Houd from Iceland

Listening again to Lu´s piece because it´s been in the back of my mind since last week and made me think so much about the personal stories behind facts, figures, medicines, science...things that often leave me feeling alienated. Death, cancer, unbearable knowledge...things that often make me feel afraid. This little story has changed my perception. I guess I just imagined being in the scientists shoes, jumped back into my own a little richer, so thanks again Lu.

Dec. 09 2008 07:34 AM
Lu Olkowski

Thought I'd post some additional links, in case anyone is interested in learning more about the science...

The original paper about the discovery

From the NYT: a very good, clear Q&A about pancreatic cancer and the team’s discovery

Dec. 02 2008 02:37 PM
Rikke Houd from Iceland

What a fine piece by Lu Olkowski. When listening, I thought: this is the kind of story that really can be told with radio, the fluent, many layered, rhythmical storytelling radio is capable of. To me it´s not a story about cancer or doctors or research, it´s about what happens when a person - the pathologist - faces her fears and puts her heart and soul into things - and discovers that she can bring change into the world. Beautiful, informative and different.

Dec. 02 2008 05:07 AM

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