Health/Science
4:48 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Reporter/Doctor Talks Of The Flight 17 Death Of Her Mentor, AIDS Researcher Joep Lange

The Malaysia Airlines tragedy last week has rocked the world of AIDS research. An international AIDS conference started Sunday with a tribute to the half-dozen researchers who died on Flight 17. 

One of them was Dr. Joep Lange. He was former president of the International AIDS Society – and a mentor to a young would-be doctor named Seema Yasmin. She’s now a staff writer for the Dallas Morning News and she sits down with KERA’s Rick Holter.

Interview Highlights: Seema Yasmin…

..On Dr. Joep Lange’s contributions to AIDS research:

“There was a time in HIV/AIDS research when people thought, ‘we have treatments now in HIV/AIDS but there are some places we can’t get them to.’ And Joep said, ‘No, if we can get a cold can of coke to remote villages in Africa, we can get HIV medications there.’ And it was a very brave thing to do. Science is almost about following the pack. Joep was a very brave, singular voice on prestigious panels saying, ‘we can get HIV/AIDS treatments to the poorest of the poor, and not only can we, but we have to.’”

…On some of the cases she worked on at the Centers for Disease Control:

"We had an outbreak of paralysis among inmates in a maximum security prison in the middle of the Arizona desert that turned out to be caused by botulism because they were brewing alcohol in their toilets, inside their cells. Then we had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Outbreak on some of the American Indian reservations, so there were some strange things, but it was my dream job."

…On her reasons for becoming a reporter:

“You can only serve as an epidemic intelligence officer for two years, so as those two years were wrapping up, I thought, ‘what on Earth can I do that can be half as exciting as this? And I thought, ‘well another way of helping people or informing people is by sharing interesting stories with them and that would take me to really exciting and interesting places.'”