Tony Holtzman, author
Jason Pearce, a young geneticist, loses NIH support when his basic research falters. Though he and his attractive wife Audrey, legal counsel to Pearce’s university, disdain private, corporation support, he accepts an offer from a venture capital firm to take his research in a new direction: gene therapy to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. As the research succeeds, Pearce’s disdain for private support diminishes—it enables him to buy a Lamborghini and build a new house in the country. Audrey becomes increasingly alarmed at the change in her husband. With approval of his medical school’s ethics review board, and the help of a clinical neurologist, Pearce launches a randomized clinical trial to see if gene therapy can prevent Alzheimer’s Disease in healthy middle-aged people at high risk of developing the disease. Betsy Matthews, a middle-aged African-American, develops leukemia a year after she received the treatment in the trial. Nobody suspects scientific misconduct until Janice Polk, a young investigative reporter, asks a question that Pearce had failed to consider. The answer immediately shatters Jason’s marriage, has disastrous consequences for his medical school and the venture capital company, and enrages the African-American community close to the medical school.