1. The Dropout
Money. Romance. Tragedy. Deception. The story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos is an unbelievable tale of ambition and fame gone terribly wrong. How did the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire lose it all in the blink of an eye? How did the woman once heralded as “the next Steve Jobs” find herself facing criminal charges — to which she pleaded not guilty — and up to decades in prison? How did her technology, meant to revolutionize health care, potentially put millions of patients at risk? And how did so many smart people get it so wrong along the way? ABC News chief business, technology and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, along with producers Taylor Dunn and Victoria Thompson, take listeners on a journey that includes a multi-year investigation. You’ll hear exclusive interviews with former employees, investors, and patients, and for the first-time, the never-before-aired deposition testimony of Elizabeth Holmes, and those at the center of this story.
When I first heard about this story I was shocked it wasn’t more popular. So I was happy to find a podcast based on the entire saga and shocked at how far Theranos went.
Most surprising was that people with biological backgrounds were on board with an idea that seemed impossible – a testing system designed around a single pinprick of blood. I’m not an expert, but to conduct multiple assays you need to have enough of your sample. Even when mixed with reagents and diluted, a speck of blood is not enough.
It was fascinating to see just how much people believed in a bad idea. My takeaway was that sometimes there’s too much focus on the becoming ‘next big thing’ and not enough on finding ways to help people.
As of writing Elizabeth Holmes is on trial for various offences and the podcast is covering that also.
2. Bear Brook
Two barrels, four bodies, and an enigmatic killer. The cold case that changed the way murders will be investigated forever.
I’d never heard of this story before. In listening to the podcast, I realised just how sad it was that these people were unaccounted for so many years. The processes in which they eventually identified the bodies are fascinating and would not be possible if not for advances within the science community.
3. Dr Death
We’re at our most vulnerable when we go to our doctors. We trust the person at the other end of that scalpel. We trust the hospital. We trust the system.
Christopher Duntsch was a neurosurgeon who radiated confidence. He claimed he was the best in Dallas. If you had back pain, and had tried everything else, Dr. Duntsch could give you the spine surgery that would take your pain away.
But soon his patients started to experience complications, and the system failed to protect them. Which begs the question: who – or what – is that system meant to protect?
I have only listened to the first season of Dr. Death but what a story (if we can call it that)! In a world where so many of us (including myself) are terrified of going to the doctor, this won’t make anyone feel any better. Yet, I think it’s important to listen to podcasts like this. Unfortunately, we do live in a world where negligence happens. We live in a world where we can’t always trust physicians to have our best interests at heart. The important takeaway from this was that…ultimately, it always pays to be cautious.
4. Immaculate Deception
Fertility doctor Jan Karbaat was renowned for getting amazing results. Women who were desperate for children would visit him at his Rotterdam clinic and leave pregnant. But when the clinic closed, rumours began about the methods Karbaat used to achieve his success. The children conceived at the clinic – the Karbaat Kids – began asking difficult questions about what happened to their mothers.
What happened in Dr Karbaat’s clinic? From Somethin’ Else, The Immaculate Deception is a story about a doctor who was determined to create life – by any means possible. Reported and hosted by Jenny Kleeman.
Admittedly, I am a recent newcomer to the world of podcasts, but my favourite thing is that I’m learning about so many stories. I do read a lot of long-form journalism, but in many ways, it’s much more organic to hear someone explaining the story to me. It makes me think about things I’ve never even thought about – particularly while hearing it from the victims themselves. The idea of any doctor using their sperm in fertility clinics is something that has never crossed my mind ever. I’m still shocked about it now!
Each episode of this documentary series begins with a medical mystery. Sometimes the sickness is in the body, and sometimes the sickness is in the system. Once you peel back the layers, more questions emerge.
This is exactly what it says on the tin. Sort of like House M.D. but for real and with less a-ha moments.
Do you know of any other science-based or related podcasts? Let me know in the comments!
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