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Distillations | Science History Institute

325 EpisodesProduced by Science History InstituteWebsite

Each episode of Distillations podcast takes a deep-dive into a moment of science-related history in order to shed light on the present.


The Alzheimer's Copernicus Problem, Part 1

Almost six million people in the United States have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. And with baby boomers getting older, those numbers are only expected to rise. This disease, despite being studied by scientists for more than 100 years, has no cure. In our two-part series we first dive into the personal lives of the people at the heart of this disease: the patients and their caregivers. Then we uncover why effective treatments for Alzheimer’s lag so far behind those for cancer, heart disease, and HIV. It turns out that for all the decades researchers have been at war with the disease, they’ve also been at war with each other.


Hosts: Alexis Pedrick  Reporter: Rigoberto Hernandez Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez Senior Producer: Mariel CarrAudio Engineer: James Morrison

Music courtesy of the Audio Network.

These songs were used courtesy of Blue Dot Sessions

"Kalsted,""Stretch of Lonely," "Thin Passage," "Waltz and Fury," "Dash and Slope," "Gilroy Solo," 'House of Grendel," "Uncertain Ground," and "Watercool-Quiet."

Research Notes

2019 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.” Alzheimer’s Association, 2019.

Begley, Sharon. “As Alzheimer’s Drug Developers Give Up on Today’s Patients, Where Is the Outrage?” Stat News. August 15, 2018.

Begley, Sharon. “The Maddening Saga of How an Alzheimer’s ‘Cabal’ Thwarted Progress toward a Cure for Decades.” Stat News. June 25, 2019.

Biogen Alzheimer’s Drug Shows Positive Results.” CNBC. July 25, 2018.

The Clinical Trial Journey.” Mayo Clinic. Youtube video. June 5, 2019.

Garde, Damian. “Alzheimer’s Study Sparks a New Round of Debate over the Amyloid Hypothesis.” Stat News. July 30, 2018.

Hogan, Alex. “The Disappointing History of Alzheimer’s Research.” Stat News. May 21, 2019.

Itzhaki, Ruth. “Alzheimer’s Disease: Mounting Evidence That Herpes Virus Is a Cause.” The Conversation. October 19, 2018.

Keshavan, Meghana. “On Alzheimer’s, Scientists Head Back to the Drawing Board—and Once-Shunned Ideas Get an Audience.” Stat News. July 22, 2019.

Li, Yun. “Biogen Posts It’s the Worst Day in 14 Years after Ending Trial for Blockbuster Alzheimer’s Drug.” CNBC. March 21, 2019.

 “Lilly Alzheimer’s Drug Does Not Slow Memory Loss: Study.” CNBC. November 23, 2016. 

The MacNeil/Lehrer Report; Living with Alzheimer’s.” 1983-04-12, National Records and Archives Administration, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston and Washington, DC, accessed October 16, 2019. 

The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” 1991-08-16, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 22, 2019.

Makin, Simon. “The Amyloid Hypothesis on Trial.” Nature. July 25, 2018.

Prusiner, Stanley. Madness and Memory: The Discovery of Prions—A New Biological Principle of Disease. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014.

Robakis, Nikolaos, et al. “Alzheimer’s Disease: A Re-examination of the Amyloid Hypothesis.” March 26, 1998.

Shenk, David. “The Forgetting—Alzheimer’s: Portrait of an Epidemic.” New York: Anchor, 2013.

 “Virginia Lee and John Trojanowski on the Protein Road Map to Alzheimer’s.” Science Watch. December 2011.

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