Episode 535 | Robin Cook Interview

Today’s author interview guest is Robin Cook, pioneer of the medical thriller genre and author of the new book Pandemic. New York Times-bestselling author Robin Cook takes on the cutting-edge world of gene-modification in this pulse-pounding new medical thriller. When an unidentified, seemingly healthy young woman collapses suddenly on the New York City subway and dies upon reaching the hospital, her case is an eerie reminder for veteran medical examiner Jack Stapleton of the 1918 flu pandemic. Fearful of a repeat on the one hundredth anniversary of the nightmarish contagion, Jack autopsies the woman within hours of her demise and discovers some striking anomalies: first, that she has had a heart transplant, and second, that, against all odds, her DNA matches that of the transplanted heart. Although the facts don’t add up to influenza, Jack must race against the clock to identify the woman and determine what kind of virus could wreak such havoc–a task made more urgent when two other victims succumb to a similar rapid death. But nothing makes sense until his investigation leads him into the fascinating realm of CRISPR/CAS9, a gene-editing biotechnology that’s captured the imagination of the medical community. . . and the attention of its most unethical members. Drawn into the dark underbelly of the organ transplant market, Jack will come face-to-face with a megalomaniacal businessman willing to risk human lives in order to conquer a lucrative new frontier in medicine–and if Jack’s not careful, the next life lost might be his own. Robin Cook was born on May 4, 1940 in Brooklyn, New York, and spent his early years in Woodside, Queens. At the age of eight he moved with his parents and older brother to Leonia, New Jersey. His sister arrived two years later, changing him from the baby of the family to the middle child. In the sixth grade Dr. Cook became fascinated with archeology and selected it as a career goal. By the time he reached the tenth grade, however, he realized, humorously, he’d been born a century too late as far as the fabled, major buried cities were concerned. When he graduated from high school as valedictorian of his class, his interests had switched to medicine. Putting himself through school, he graduated from Wesleyan University summa cum laude with a major in chemistry and a distinction in government. He then went on to attend the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons while he worked running a blood/gas chemistry laboratory in support of the cardiac surgery team at the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital during nights and weekends. The bright side of those difficult years was that he’d been invited as a consequence of his necessary gainful employment to spend his medical school summer electives setting up a similar blood/gas lab for the Jacques Cousteau Oceanographic Institute in Monaco. After surgical residency training, Dr. Cook was drafted into the Navy, where he attended submarine school and navy diving school. Following a tour of duty in the South Pacific on the USS Kamehameha, a ballistic missile submarine and the flagship of the Pacific submarine fleet, he was transferred to the Deep Submergence Systems Project (Sea Lab), where he trained as a navy aquanaut medical officer. In that position he participated in research in diving, and published his first book: A Medical Watch Standers Guide to Saturation Diving. Following his completion of his military service and subsequent discharge from the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander, Dr. Cook undertook a second residency. This was in ophthalmology at Harvard. Upon its completion, he then matriculated as a full time student at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government while …

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