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Lost Women of Science Podcast: Season One, The Pathologist in


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From the COVID vaccine to pulsars to computer programming, women are at the source of many scientific discoveries, inventions and innovations that shape our lives. But in the stories we’ve come to accept about those breakthroughs, women are too often left out.

Each season at Lost Women of Science, we’ll look at one woman and her scientific accomplishment: who she was, how she lived and what she found out. Katie Hafner, a longtime reporter for the New York Times, explains the science behind each woman’s work and explores the historical context in which she lived.

Our first season, “The Pathologist in the Basement,” is all about Dorothy Andersen, a physician and pathologist who solved a medical mystery when she identified and defined cystic fibrosis in 1938. A passionate outdoorswoman, a “rugged individualist” and a bit of an enigma, Andersen changed the way we understand acute lung and gastrointestinal problems in young children.

This podcast is distributed by PRX and published in partnership with Scientific American.

EPISODE 1: THE QUESTION MARK

When physician and pathologist Dorothy Andersen confronted a slew of confounding infant deaths, she suspected the accepted diagnosis wasn’t right. Her medical sleuthing led to the world’s understanding of cystic fibrosis, a disease that affects the lungs, the pancreas and a host of other organs. But she is by no means a household name. Who was this scientist, and how did she come to quietly make such an important medical contribution? 

View full episode transcript here.

EPISODE 2: THE MATILDA EFFECT

A passionate outdoorswoman, a “rugged individualist” and a bit of an enigma—the few traces Dorothy Andersen left behind give us glimpses into who she was. In this episode, we track down people determined to stitch together her life. Our associate producer Sophie McNulty rummages through the basement of one of Andersen’s colleagues for clues about the elusive pathologist. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, N.Y., pediatric intensivist Scott Baird suggests we take a second look at the conventional wisdom surrounding the evolution of cystic fibrosis research in the 1950s.

View full episode transcript here.

EPISODE 3: THE CASE OF THE MISSING PORTRAIT

A missing portrait of physician and pathologist Dorothy Andersen takes us on a journey into the perils of memorialization—and who gets to be remembered. Pediatric intensivist Scott Baird hunts for the portrait, and psychiatry resident Nientara Anderson and emergency medicine resident Lizzy Fitzsousa, both former medical students at Yale University, explain how, in today’s diverse communities, “dude walls” can have an insidious effect on those who walk past them every day.

View full episode transcript here.

EPISODE 4: BREAKFAST IN THE SNOW

In our final episode, we explore Dorothy Andersen’s legacy—what she left behind and how her work has lived on since her death. Describing her mentor’s influence on her life and career, Dr. Celia Ores gives us a rare look into what Dr. Andersen was really like. We then turn to researchers, doctors, and patients, who fill us in on the progress that has grown from Dr. Andersen’s initial work. These major developments include the discovery of the cystic fibrosis gene, the tremendous impact of the drug Trikafta, and the potential of lifesaving gene editing techniques.

View full episode transcript here.

Learn more about The Lost Women of Science Initiative here.

Read The Full Article Here


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