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Frederick Appelbaum M.D. with Gabriel Spitzer: The Story of Bone Marrow Transplants
June 7, 2023
It’s safe to say that Dr. E. Donnall Thomas stands as one of the most visionary minds to impact modern medicine. In 1990, Dr. Thomas received the Nobel Prize for his research at the Fred Hutch Institute in Seattle, with his central discovery that bone marrow transplants could be used to treat deadly illnesses like leukemia, lymphoma, and sickle-cell Anemia. Now, almost a quarter of a century later, Frederick Appelbaum M.D — a close friend and colleague of the late doctor — is setting out to tell Thomas’s story with the detail and devotion that it deserves.
In his new book Living Medicine: Don Thomas, Marrow Transplantation, and the Cell Therapy Revolution, Appelbaum paints the image of a determined medical student — then physician — who persisted through the doubt of his peers, the denial of lab space from his supervisors, and the recurring failures in his own experiments. Despite the push-back he faced from much of the medical community, Thomas managed to achieve radical innovation when he developed a method of transplanting bone marrow — a procedure that would go on to save over a million lives. Ultimately, Living Medicine tells a larger story of the way personality interacts with radical imagination, as well as the impact that Thomas’s discoveries have on modern medicine, and will continue to have on the future of medicine to come.
Join Frederick Appelbaum at Town Hall as he recounts the remarkable history of Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, taking you through some of his most significant contributions to the medical field.
Dr. Fred Appelbaum is a physician-scientist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center who has been blessed with a long and successful career as a cancer researcher. His work has ranged from studying basic molecular abnormalities of the disease to conducting national and international studies of its treatment. He is currently on the scientific advisory boards of Memorial Sloan Kettering (which he chairs), Johns Hopkins, MD Anderson, University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California San Francisco.
Gabriel Spitzer (he/him) is an Editor on NPR’s Science Desk, covering global health and development. He previously served as Senior Editor of NPR’s daily science podcast Short Wave. Gabriel comes to NPR following years at public radio stations – most recently at KNKX in Seattle, where he covered science and health before founding Transmission, one of the country’s first podcasts about the COVID-19 pandemic. He spent a year as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. Spitzer has been honored with awards including the Kavli Science Journalism Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as awards from the Association of Health Care Journalists and Public Media Journalists Association.