Our Site Podcast with Paul Reed

Our Site Podcast with Paul Reed


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Our Site Podcast with Paul Reed - History

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Listener-supported WNYC Studios.

JAD ABUMRAD: Before we start, I just want to let you know there is a moment or two of strong language in the story.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIOLAB INTRO)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Wait. Wait. You're listening (laughter).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: You're listening.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Listening.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: . To RADIOLAB.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: RADIOLAB.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: From WNYC.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Yup.

JAD ABUMRAD: Hey. I'm Jad Abumrad. This is RADIOLAB. And today.

JAD ABUMRAD: . Matthew Kielty.

JAD ABUMRAD: A story from our producer, Matthew Kielty.

MATT KIELTY: Heather's also here.

JAD ABUMRAD: Hey, Radke. How's it going?

HEATHER RADKE: Good. How are you doing?

JAD ABUMRAD: And reporter Heather Radke.

Where do you guys want to start?

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE DAILY")

MICHAEL BARBARO: From The New York Times, I'm Michael Barbaro. This is "The Daily."

HEATHER RADKE: Rewind back to the early days of the pandemic.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE DAILY")

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE DAILY")

MICHAEL BARBARO: . As President Trump.

HEATHER RADKE: . I was listening to "The Daily." It was one of these episodes about the pandemic. And on the show, they had.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE DAILY")

MICHAEL BARBARO: Science reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr.

HEATHER RADKE: Don McNeil Jr. I remember in those early days of the pandemic, when Don McNeil came onto "The Daily," you sort of knew you were going to get some bad news and that he was going to just sort of tell you how serious this thing was.

JAD ABUMRAD: Don't they call him, like, Doomsday Don or something?

HEATHER RADKE: I mean, I've never heard that, but I wouldn't - I'm not surprised. Because, like, back in February.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE DAILY")

MICHAEL BARBARO: The portraits of the future that you have painted for us have been strikingly accurate.

HEATHER RADKE: He was telling us that the schools were going to close, that we were all going to be stuck in our houses for weeks or months.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE DAILY")

MICHAEL BARBARO: Those happened.

HEATHER RADKE: . That there wasn't going to be enough personal protective equipment.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE DAILY")

MICHAEL BARBARO: Just about everything you said would happen has more or less happened.

DONALD G MCNEIL JR: Well, look. I'm not some dark angel who's simply looking into the future.

HEATHER RADKE: But he kind of is (laughter). I don't know. But anyway, so in this show.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE DAILY")

DONALD G MCNEIL JR: I'm talking to experts.

HEATHER RADKE: . Which was in April, they're talking about - like, they're kind of playing out the future of the pandemic and what our world might look like.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE DAILY")

DONALD G MCNEIL JR: You know, we're not going to be able to let people sit next to each other in football stadiums.

HEATHER RADKE: . About what sports might look like.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE DAILY")

DONALD G MCNEIL JR: Let half the kids go to school this week.

HEATHER RADKE: . How schools might work.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE DAILY")

DONALD G MCNEIL JR: Next week, the other half of the kids get to come to school.

HEATHER RADKE: . Eating out.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE DAILY")

DONALD G MCNEIL JR: A restaurant that had 100 customers before now has about 10 customers in it.

HEATHER RADKE: Eerily prescient.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE DAILY")

MICHAEL BARBARO: And how long.

HEATHER RADKE: But then Barbaro's like.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE DAILY")

MICHAEL BARBARO: At some point do we just get to go back to normal?

HEATHER RADKE: And then McNeil says, look. This pandemic will end.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE DAILY")

DONALD G MCNEIL JR: . When we have a vaccine that we can all take.

HEATHER RADKE: The vaccine's the thing that's going to end this.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE DAILY")

DONALD G MCNEIL JR: But the record we've ever had for producing a vaccine is four years.

HEATHER RADKE: The fastest vaccine we've ever made was the mumps vaccine.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE DAILY")

DONALD G MCNEIL JR: Yeah, the fastest human vaccine ever made was mumps - four years from start to finish.

MATT KIELTY: Now, if you are a person who consumes information, you're probably well aware of the fact that, like, we are going to break that record. Like, we're probably going to obliterate that record. We are going to have a vaccine much faster than four years. And, I mean, that's because COVID is a completely world-altering, destructive pandemic that we have devoted millions upon millions of dollars to. Thousands and thousands of people have been working day and night to come up with a vaccine.

But - and maybe you're wondering at this point where I'm going with this. But when Heather heard that episode of "The Daily," she and I got to talking. And we started to look into this story about mumps, about what will soon be the second-fastest vaccine we've ever made. And what we found is standing in the center of it is weirdly just this one guy.

MATT KIELTY: . A scientist named Maurice Hilleman, a guy who somehow embodied all of what ridding the world of a disease requires of us. But before we get to Maurice.

HEATHER RADKE: What are the mumps?

PAUL OFFIT: I can hear you, yeah.

MATT KIELTY: So we talked to this guy, Paul Offit.

HEATHER RADKE: . Director of the Vaccine Education Center.

PAUL OFFIT: And a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

MATT KIELTY: How are things going in your world right now?

PAUL OFFIT: They're pretty busy. I've actually never been busier in my life. And I'm older, you know?

HEATHER RADKE: Paul's on an FDA advisory committee for the COVID vaccines.

PAUL OFFIT: We had a meeting last Thursday, which was a nine-hour meeting. It was shown on C-SPAN.

HEATHER RADKE: That is a long meeting.

MATT KIELTY: But anyway, so we asked Paul.

HEATHER RADKE: What is mumps, and how is it contagious?

PAUL OFFIT: In the same way that SARS-CoV-2 is contagious, which is it spreads by small respiratory droplets that emanate from the mouth and nose.

MATT KIELTY: So, like, coughing, sneezing, talking, kissing.

PAUL OFFIT: And mostly, the virus infected children.

HEATHER RADKE: And the main symptom of mumps is that your face kind of swells up.

MATT KIELTY: Like, your cheeks swell up and around your jaw.

PAUL OFFIT: So you have this chipmunk-like appearance.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE BRADY BUNCH")

FLORENCE HENDERSON: (As Carol Brady, singing) I want to be loved by you.

PAUL OFFIT: So kids who got mumps just looked like these, like, cute, little chipmunks.

HEATHER RADKE: . Which meant the mumps was great for things like the plotline in "The Brady Bunch."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE BRADY BUNCH")

MELISSA SUE ANDERSON: (As Millicent) The doctor thinks I may have the mumps.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE BRADY BUNCH")

MIKE LOOKINLAND: (As Bobby Brady) The mumps?

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GOOD TIMES")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Good times.

HEATHER RADKE: . "Good Times."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GOOD TIMES")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: Hey, hey, hey.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (Speaking German).

MATT KIELTY: . Some old German cartoon.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (Speaking German).

PAUL OFFIT: There's a Coasters song.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE COASTERS SONG, "POISON IVY")

PAUL OFFIT: . Called "Poison Ivy."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "POISON IVY")

THE COASTERS: (Singing) Measles make you mumpy, and mumps will make you lumpy.

PAUL OFFIT: Ask your parents about it.

I found this old vaudeville song about a kid getting mumps that I.

(SOUNDBITE OF PLAYING FLUTE)

HEATHER RADKE: . Tested out on my flute.

(SOUNDBITE OF PLAYING FLUTE)

JAD ABUMRAD: Did not see the flute coming.

MATT KIELTY: Like, mumps is, like, the cutest disease you can have.

PAUL OFFIT: I mean, it causes - it can infect the lining of the brain and spinal cord.

HEATHER RADKE: Which could cause deafness.

PAUL OFFIT: But it doesn't really kill you, no.

MATT KIELTY: So it's not really.

HEATHER RADKE: You know, Matt, I got to say, one thing I wish I was in here was the real problem with mumps, which is that men lose their virility. I feel like you're avoiding sort of (laughter).

MATT KIELTY: I'm not avoiding it, Heather.

HEATHER RADKE: I'm just saying, the big problem with mumps is that men's testicles become enormous, and they can't walk, and then they sometimes can't have children. And it scared everybody in the Army. And that's why mumps was a big deal.

HEATHER RADKE: Add that in.

JAD ABUMRAD: But wait. Are you saying seriously that the big push for, like, why this particular vaccine happened so fast is because it was very male-centered and it worried a lot of Army guys?

MATT KIELTY: No. Because this is actually where we get back to our one guy, Maurice Hilleman.

PAUL OFFIT: Maurice Hilleman, I think, is the father of modern vaccines.

HEATHER RADKE: I mean, he's one of these guys that.

PAUL OFFIT: He is the vaccine master.

HEATHER RADKE: . In all of his bios and obituaries, you'll read something like, he might be the greatest biologist of the 20th century.

PAUL OFFIT: Right. He's estimated - his work is estimated to save about 8 million lives a year.

HEATHER RADKE: Then, you'll read something that's like, he was the greatest scientist of the 20th century.

PAUL OFFIT: We live longer because of him. We live 30 years longer than we did 100 years ago, largely because of the efforts of Maurice Hilleman.

HEATHER RADKE: And then you'll come across something that says he may be the greatest scientist that's ever lived.

PAUL OFFIT: I wish he was alive today.

MATT KIELTY: So Maurice Hilleman died in 2005 of cancer at the age of 85. But just months before his death, Paul actually interviewed him.

PAUL OFFIT: I just wanted to get his stories down.

HEATHER RADKE: They knew each other pretty well.

PAUL OFFIT: And he was nice enough to let me interview him for 60 or 70 hours or so in the last six months of his life.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: So getting back to.

MATT KIELTY: . A film crew interviewed Maurice before his death, and they were generous enough to give us some of that tape.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: Well, I'm Maurice Hilleman, and I had a long career in science - about 60 years - doing basic research and the development of a large number of new vaccines.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: So give me a little bit of your personal history.

MAURICE HILLEMAN: Well, you might ask, well, how did you ever become a Montanan?

MATT KIELTY: So go back - late 1800s. Hilleman's great-uncle, a scout in the Army, ends up settling in Montana in this little town.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: . Called Miles Town.

MATT KIELTY: . Now called Miles City.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: . Engaged in illicit businesses. I think it was largely prostitution (laughter).

MATT KIELTY: Eventually, more of the family came up, settled alongside him.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: It's a rich farmland there.

MATT KIELTY: Big, wide-open spaces.

HEATHER RADKE: His mom and dad worked a farm. They had seven kids. And then Maurice was born.

PAUL OFFIT: Around the time of the great flu pandemic.

JAD ABUMRAD: So he was born right in the middle of second-wave flu.

HEATHER RADKE: Mmm hmm. And his mother got really sick right after he was born. And he had a twin sister. And both the twin sister and the mom actually died, and he was the only survivor of the birth.

MATT KIELTY: And Maurice's father actually gave Maurice away to his aunt and uncle, who lived right next door. So he had this very kind of strange childhood where he would work the farm with his siblings and his biological father. They would go to the same church, all of them together. But then at the end of the day, he would go to be with his aunt and uncle by himself.

PAUL OFFIT: And I think he always wanted to be seen. He would mention that, that he wanted to be seen by his father.

MATT KIELTY: Offit said it was a sort of driving force in his life.

HEATHER RADKE: So it's the '20s in Montana.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: You really became a workaholic to survive.

MATT KIELTY: By age 4, he's going to town to sell strawberries at the market.

HEATHER RADKE: Back on the farm.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: We had a blacksmith shop. We had a machine shop.

(SOUNDBITE OF HAMMER HAMMERING)

HEATHER RADKE: There were all sorts of animals.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HEATHER RADKE: As he got older.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: . One of my jobs was to take care of the chickens.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHICKENS CLUCKING)

HEATHER RADKE: He fed them, and he corralled them and collected their eggs.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: I got to know chickens.

HEATHER RADKE: And then there were these stories about how, like, before he's 10, he.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRAIN RUMBLING)

HEATHER RADKE: . Is almost hit by a freight train.

PAUL OFFIT: Literally, a train was coming in the other direction.

HEATHER RADKE: He almost suffocates from diphtheria. He, like.

HEATHER RADKE: . Somehow, like, follows a hobo into a waterfall, but he can't swim, and he almost drowns.

JAD ABUMRAD: This kid is cursed.

HEATHER RADKE: Yeah. Life in Montana was tough.

PAUL OFFIT: And so he saw himself as a remarkable survivor.

HEATHER RADKE: And he becomes a pretty tough person because of it. But he also becomes very interested in science. So Hilleman's biological dad - he was, like, super Lutheran, really, really devout.

MATT KIELTY: He was an avid prayer. He believed in faith healing, that God could cure disease.

HEATHER RADKE: And Paul said that maybe as sort of a reaction to it.

PAUL OFFIT: . Or of a rejection of it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: (Reading) When onboard HMS Beagle as naturalist.

HEATHER RADKE: Hilleman fell in love with Darwin.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: (Reading) . I was much struck with certain facts.

JAD ABUMRAD: He literally - like, Darwin is what drew him to the dark side?

PAUL OFFIT: I mean, he told me the story with glee about how he would sit in church and.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: (Reading) . Seemed to me to throw some light on the origin of species.

PAUL OFFIT: . Read Darwin's "On The Origin Of Species."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: (Reading) . That mystery of mysteries.

MATT KIELTY: Unlike his dad's religion that was all about mystery and faith.

PAUL OFFIT: This was logical and ordered and reasoned and based on things you could see.

HEATHER RADKE: And he kind of becomes enraptured with this other kind of Bible.

MATT KIELTY: And he goes from reading Darwin to.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: . Paul Ehrlich and von Behring and Pasteur.

MATT KIELTY: . These great microbiologists.

MATT KIELTY: . Who had done groundbreaking research in this still new, emerging field.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: Virology.

MATT KIELTY: The science of viruses.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: The whole business of viruses as the branch between the living and the dead - I had really gotten interested in this.

MATT KIELTY: Now, when he finished high school, he actually didn't plan on going to college. It would take his brother coming back from seminary school to push him to keep going with his education.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: So I did go to Montana State.

HEATHER RADKE: He studies microbiology.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: Worked pretty hard.

MATT KIELTY: There are stories about how he would spend his weekends in the lab.

HEATHER RADKE: About how he had four experiments going at once.

MATT KIELTY: And in 1941, he graduates.

HEATHER RADKE: Goes to the University of Chicago.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: The intellectual center of its time.

MATT KIELTY: Starts his Ph.D. work.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: On chlamydia.

MATT KIELTY: For years, people have been looking for a vaccine to chlamydia, which everybody thought was a virus.

HEATHER RADKE: And in a year, Hilleman discovers it's actually not a virus at all.

MATT KIELTY: It was a bacteria.

PAUL OFFIT: And it could be treated with antibiotics. That's what he did as his Ph.D. thesis when he was 25 years old.

HEATHER RADKE: A huge accomplishment. Then.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HEATHER RADKE: He graduates.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: From a pretty damn good school and was wooed by academia.

MATT KIELTY: To become a professor.

HEATHER RADKE: Which was what he was expected to become.

PAUL OFFIT: That's what you did.

MATT KIELTY: You went off and followed the path of those who came before you in the pursuit of knowledge in these vaunted public institutions, where you would burrow in, do your research for the good of the public.

MATT KIELTY: And Hilleman was like, no.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: I wanted to go out and see how the big world operated, the big world of the practical.

PAUL OFFIT: He wanted to make things, much as he had made them on the farm. He wanted to produce things.

MATT KIELTY: So he goes to work for this small pharmaceutical company in New Jersey. Then he gets drafted.

HEATHER RADKE: Well, but first, I mean, don't sleep on the Japanese encephalitis.

HEATHER RADKE: So he creates this vaccine for Japanese encephalitis, which is this horrible disease that causes brain swelling and had been killing people in Asia for a really long time. And then the Army asks him to develop a vaccine so that soldiers don't die of it when they're there they're not affected by it. And he does.

MATT KIELTY: And that's the first vaccine that he makes.

HEATHER RADKE: Does he do the Hong Kong thing when he's in the Army? I think he does.

MATT KIELTY: Doot-do-doo (ph). In late '40s, institutions (ph) - modern strains of influenza. Yes, in 1948, he goes to Walter Reed.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: Yes. When I went to Walter Reed, it was - my assignment was, very simply, learn everything you can about influenza.

HEATHER RADKE: You know, 1919 isn't that far away from the mid-'40s. The pandemic is really in everyone's memory.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: So my job was to prevent the next pandemic.

HEATHER RADKE: To figure out how to prevent another one.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: So what I did.

HEATHER RADKE: Basically, he goes through - looking through all these samples of flu that they have at Walter Reed, and he discovers that the flu virus changes every year. And he figures out how it does that and why and then helps to.

HEATHER RADKE: . Create a system for making a new vaccine every year.

JAD ABUMRAD: So he is the reason that we have to get a new flu shot every year?

MATT KIELTY: He's also the first to discover how viruses shift when they jump back and forth between humans and, like, birds or bats.

MATT KIELTY: Which allows him, in 1957, to become the first human being ever to avert a pandemic because he's able to see it coming. It was coming from Hong Kong. He's able to tweak the flu vaccine. People are inoculated. He's able to save at least, like, a million lives in America.

MATT KIELTY: He's given the presidential medal for science.

JAD ABUMRAD: This guy's just, like - he's on quite a run.

JAD ABUMRAD: After his miserable child years.

HEATHER RADKE: I know. I mean, you've really.

HEATHER RADKE: Oh, go ahead.

JAD ABUMRAD: OK, sorry. No, no, no. I was going to ask a question, but I think it's coming. So maybe I'll - maybe don't answer it if you're about to. How does - I'm searching for some way to understand why he was so gifted at this particular corner of science. But maybe there's something in a story you're about to tell me that'll kind of get at that.

MATT KIELTY: Yeah, Jad. It's the mumps story.

MATT KIELTY: The whole reason we're here.

JAD ABUMRAD: Oh, wait. Can I - can you guys hold on one second? I might have to run and get the door.

JAD ABUMRAD: I'll be right back.

HEATHER RADKE: I'm going to have some water.

MATT KIELTY: It's a good spot for a break.

MATT KIELTY: I can never find the app. Type it in, type it in, type it in.

HEATHER RADKE: (Laughter) You guys have a real - a lot of people who work with you. It's sort of a fun little family here at the end. All hands on deck.

MATT KIELTY: All hands on deck.

HEATHER RADKE: Like we're putting on a play.

JAD ABUMRAD: Jad - RADIOLAB. Back to Heather Radke and Matt Kielty and their story about Maurice Hilleman, aka the father of modern vaccines, aka the vaccine master.

PAUL OFFIT: One other thing - he also was a profane man.

MAURICE HILLEMAN: There were so many fucking things that could happen.

They loved this guy. Well, I thought he was a piece of shit.

A fucking ice-cream truck stopped there.

MATT KIELTY: By the way, these are recordings Offit made with Hilleman in order to write a book on him.

PAUL OFFIT: But it was hard in writing the book because often I would have, like, the F word in the same sentence as polymerase chain reaction, which is probably the only time that's ever happened.

MATT KIELTY: So anyway, in 1957, Hilleman joined the pharmaceutical company Merck to run their vaccine division. And when he got there, pretty quickly the company put him through management training.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: Charm school.

MATT KIELTY: Or what he called charm school.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: We couldn't cuss so much, right? So that's bullshit.

MATT KIELTY: At a certain point, he was lectured about creating a more fulfilling work environment for his employees.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: Enjoyment was your job. I said, that's a lot of (ph) shit, you know?

PAUL OFFIT: He was a tough guy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: What the company should be doing is kicking ass.

PAUL OFFIT: And he suffered fools poorly.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: I tell you, the fucking advice that I got from bosses.

MATT KIELTY: In a large part, this is because when Hilleman showed up to Merck, he had this, like, grand vision.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: And my vision was that I wanted to conquer the pediatric diseases of children.

PAUL OFFIT: His goal was to eliminate any viral or bacterial infection that infected children.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: Measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox.

PAUL OFFIT: Which was a ridiculous goal. But he came pretty darn close to meeting it.

MATT KIELTY: OK, so let's finally actually go to.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PAUL OFFIT: Yeah, let's go to mumps. You ready to go to mumps?

HEATHER RADKE: All right. Yeah, so let's go back to the very beginning.

JERYL LYNN HILLEMAN: Oh, absolutely.

HEATHER RADKE: This, by the way, is Maurice Hilleman's daughter, Jeryl Lynn Hilleman.

How old were you when you came down with mumps?

JERYL LYNN HILLEMAN: I believe I was 5.

HEATHER RADKE: Philadelphia, is that right?

JERYL LYNN HILLEMAN: Outside of Philadelphia, in a suburb outside of Philadelphia.

MATT KIELTY: OK, so it was March 23, 1963.

JERYL LYNN HILLEMAN: It was probably in the middle of the night, very late at night. I'd gone to bed. I woke up. I wasn't feeling well.

MATT KIELTY: So she gets out of bed, goes across the hall.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PAUL OFFIT: So she comes in to you at 1 in the morning?

MATT KIELTY: Wakes up her dad.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: And she says, my throat hurts.

MATT KIELTY: So the first thing he did is he got out this book.

JERYL LYNN HILLEMAN: Very thick book, maybe 3 or 4 inches thick, hardback.

HEATHER RADKE: A kind of diagnostic book.

MATT KIELTY: He thumbs through it, looks at his daughter.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: I said, holy shit. You got mumps.

PAUL OFFIT: But see - I can't have him cursing in front of a 5-year-old daughter. So I didn't do that. I think I said, oh, goodness - or something like that.

PAUL OFFIT: And then what he did was something no father does. He laid her back down in bed. Now, there was - his wife had recently died. And so he had a housekeeper who also stayed in the home in the evening. So.

HEATHER RADKE: At 1 in the morning, he got dressed, got in his car, and he drove down to the lab.

PAUL OFFIT: Got a swab, came back, gently woke up his daughter.

HEATHER RADKE: Swabbed the inside of her mouth, and he pulled out a little bit of her mumps virus.

MATT KIELTY: And he said in this interview that he did with Offit.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: This is the time to get a mumps virus strain. Who knows?

MATT KIELTY: Like, at this point, he didn't have a good strain of the mumps virus at Merck. And so he's sort of just like, if an opportunity presents itself.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: Take every opportunity.

MATT KIELTY: Get yourself a virus.

HEATHER RADKE: OK, so now he has a sample of the virus, and he's going to try to use Jeryl Lynn's virus to make the vaccine.

HEATHER RADKE: Let's see. So.

MATT KIELTY: This is - like, this is crazy. It turns out making a vaccine's insane.

JAD ABUMRAD: Yeah, this is the part where I'm like, OK, demystify it. So what does he do?

MATT KIELTY: So the first thing he does is he puts Jeryl Lynn's mumps virus into this lab flask with a bunch of chicken embryo cells.

MATT KIELTY: Fair question. So, basically, he's going to use these chick cells to transform the virus. So what he does is he has the virus in with these chick cells in a lab flask, and he basically just starts watching the virus grow in these cells. And as it's growing, what it's doing is it's killing cells. That's what a virus does when it grows. And he's looking for clumps of dead cells. And if he sees a flask that has a lot of dead cells, he's like, oh, that one. He takes the virus out of there, plucks it out, puts it into another flask with chick cells, and he's watching to see if it kills even more cells this time. And if it does, he takes it out, puts it into a flask again. And he's just - he's basically trying to get this thing to be better and better at killing chicken cells. And the idea here is.

JAD ABUMRAD: And why - what - and why is - oh, yeah. Sorry. You're about to answer my question, I think. Keep going.

MATT KIELTY: Well, the idea is that by passing it through animal cells, these chicken cells, again and again, what you're doing is you're - essentially, you're weakening the effect of the virus on a human. It's still a virus, and it's still a virus that you can actually then take and put inside of a human. The thing is, it's just not going to cause the same sort of disease that it would if it were, like, really virulent and very strong. It's essentially weakened. This is called attenuation.

MATT KIELTY: You're kind of, like, turning down the knob or something, the volume on this virus as you pass it through chickens.

HEATHER RADKE: Yeah, it's like you turn down the.

JAD ABUMRAD: Oh, that's so interesting.

HEATHER RADKE: . Knob on the human virus and up the knob on the chicken virus.

JAD ABUMRAD: And so what is he looking for exactly? Is he looking for a virus that's super good at getting into chicken cells and therefore terrible at human cells? Or is he looking for something else?

HEATHER RADKE: I mean, I think that's sort of the art.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: This is a judgment call.

HEATHER RADKE: Hilleman described it as a judgment call.

PAUL OFFIT: It's guts and judgment. It's just absolute trial and error. I mean, there's no formula for this. This is not written down anywhere. You just try.

HEATHER RADKE: And Offit told us.

PAUL OFFIT: He really just had a sixth sense for how one did that.

HEATHER RADKE: You know, different people would make different choices about that, and he's good at making the right set of choices. So you don't want it so chickeny that humans don't - like, you know, a human body doesn't recognize it at all. But you don't want it human-y (ph) to the point where anybody is going to get sick. And that's the real fear in making a vaccine.

HEATHER RADKE: . Is that people will get the disease, you know. So.

JAD ABUMRAD: I see. Oh, so you just put your finger on it. So he's looking for a - he's trying to - or attenuate it so that it's right at that perfect fault line between being chicken-y enough that it doesn't hurt the human, but still being human-y enough that the human immune system will recognize it and see it as a threat.

MATT KIELTY: And Paul explained to us that doing this process - because you end up with an actual live virus that is the vaccine that you put into people, you - this process leads to, like, the most robust immune response that a vaccine can create.

PAUL OFFIT: That's the gold standard of vaccines. And that same strategy is being used to make a COVID-19 vaccine, as well.

MATT KIELTY: Oh, really? We still do that?

PAUL OFFIT: We still do that, yep.

HEATHER RADKE: Sometimes, they ask you if you're allergic to eggs when you get a vaccine. That's why.

MATT KIELTY: Oh. Before we leave this part of the process, quick, like, how long did it take him to do this pass-it-through-the-chicken-cell thing?

PAUL OFFIT: It probably took about two years to do that.

MATT KIELTY: Which sounds slow, but it's fast.

HEATHER RADKE: Because with COVID, we have hundreds of scientists all over the world, all of the resources they could possibly imagine. And it's taken us at least a year. This is one guy with a couple of lab assistants and a bunch of chicken eggs. So two years is actually pretty fast.

JAD ABUMRAD: All right. So then what?

HEATHER RADKE: So that's just the beginning. So once he has a decent vaccine, he has to do tests on people.

MATT KIELTY: And this part of the process - it's a different thing than growing things in a lab. There's, like, a whole other landscape of questions and judgment calls and risks. Like, the vaccine, if it's not right, can actually just give you mumps.

HEATHER RADKE: And also, when we test vaccines, we're not only testing to make sure that they work and that they won't give you the disease. We're also testing to make sure that there aren't other unknown side effects.

MATT KIELTY: Could you just walk us through what exactly Hilleman's doing in this trial process?

PAUL OFFIT: Sure. So he starts with adults. Then you work your way down to children.

MATT KIELTY: And what he's doing is he's just - he's injecting his vaccine and just being like, do you die, or are you OK?

PAUL OFFIT: Yeah. Well, yeah. Not quite that grim.

PAUL OFFIT: But yeah, it's just - is it safe, and is it inducing an immune response which is likely to be protective?

HEATHER RADKE: So you give them the vaccine. You check back in. You draw their blood. And then you look for antibodies.

MATT KIELTY: And the thing is, back then, you could do this with a lot of speed.

HEATHER RADKE: Because these are kind of the Wild West days of vaccine-making and research.

PAUL OFFIT: For example, to do a trial.

MATT KIELTY: Offit explained to us, to do a vaccine trial now, you have to sign a 15-page, single-spaced consent form.

PAUL OFFIT: Then, it was a 3x5 card that said, I allow my child to participate in a blank vaccine trial. And you just filled in, you know, mumps, measles, German measles. And then you signed it.

PAUL OFFIT: That was the consent form.

HEATHER RADKE: So what Hilleman and his team did is they went to the suburbs.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: . Set up studies and Havertown, which is West Philadelphia.

MATT KIELTY: They basically had these community meetings.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: . Through the churches, some of the schools.

MATT KIELTY: It would be clergy people, teachers, parents, who were mostly white, middle class. And Hilleman and his team would meet with these people and - in particular with the parents, they would explain to them what the vaccine is, what they hope the vaccine can do and then hand them a 3x5 notecard and ask them.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: . To volunteer their kids.

HEATHER RADKE: And a lot of them did volunteer.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: Thousands of children.

PAUL OFFIT: About 5,000 or so children.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #7: Well, I think it's wonderful that they have this. And I'm thankful my child is participating in it.

MATT KIELTY: I actually found this old documentary from when these tests were being done. And it's just a room full of these kids getting a vaccine shot, crying, and then these mothers.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #8: I'm here because I feel that if this will help children, this will be a wonderful thing.

MATT KIELTY: . Explaining why they decided to participate.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #9: Oh, I hate to see any child suffering. I'm a mother of six, and I'm for anything that can help any child in the world. I'm a mother through and through.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: We owe such a huge debt to the people of that West Philadelphia area. The parents - they had to keep their records at home for what their children - take their temperatures, come in and go through all of this annoying business, bled. They had to be inoculated to participate in what was regarded as a humanitarian quest. Boy, I will never forget that.

HEATHER RADKE: Now, as Hilleman was conducting these tests on children who had been volunteered by their parents, he was actually also testing the mumps vaccine on another group of children - children who were living in state homes and had intellectual disabilities.

MATT KIELTY: They were essentially volunteered by the state.

HEATHER RADKE: So until the law changed in the early '70s, this is how a lot of drugs and particularly vaccines were tested.

MATT KIELTY: And this is actually something that comes up in Offit's interviews with Hilleman.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: It was a big ethical issue. I worried about that like, you know, hell, you know? I think we have a hell of a responsibility. And what are the ethical standards that we're using and following?

MATT KIELTY: And Hilleman says at the time, the two sort of guiding ideas were.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: Do no harm.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: And do good.

PAUL OFFIT: In those days, in the 1960s, the thinking at the time - when you were in these chronic care, long-term facilities, the level of hygiene and sanitation in those areas was terrible.

MATT KIELTY: It was crowded. Disease was rampant.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: Yeah, well, they all developed epidemic disease, these institutionalized kids.

MATT KIELTY: So the justification at the time was that because these kids were the most likely to get these diseases, they were also the most likely to benefit from the vaccine.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: But I'm telling you, these were judgment calls, scientifically and ethically. There is no question about it.

HEATHER RADKE: What Hilleman was doing - testing his vaccine on children with intellectual disabilities in state homes - was part of a bigger thing that was happening all over the place across the country. And a lot of kids got sick, and some even died. There was a situation in Staten Island where a group of kids were given live hepatitis. Another situation in Massachusetts were a group of children at a state home were given radiation, were just exposed to tons of radiation. And although what Hilleman was doing wasn't that, he was part of a system where children who were under the care of the state were used for scientific experimentation.

JAD ABUMRAD: Right. Well, did - before we leave this point, did anyone protest to or about Hilleman in the moment? Or was it just so commonplace that people didn't think anything of it?

HEATHER RADKE: No, they didn't. And it was very commonplace. And nobody got sick because the vaccine worked.

So in 1967, four years after he'd swabbed Jeryl Lynn's throat, Hilleman had made his mumps vaccine. It was the fastest anyone had ever made a vaccine from start to finish.

MATT KIELTY: And we'll say quick that Hilleman seemed pretty tickled that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PAUL OFFIT: This was her virus.

MAURICE HILLEMAN: Oh, yeah. My God, that's your virus.

MATT KIELTY: . He got to name it after his daughter.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: Can you imagine that?

HEATHER RADKE: Called the Jeryl Lynn strain. It still is.

JERYL LYNN HILLEMAN: And he thought that was a nice thing. But it wasn't. Something that is just one of those facts of life (laughter).

MATT KIELTY: Jeryl Lynn told us, after he was done with mumps, he was just off to the next thing.

JERYL LYNN HILLEMAN: And, you know, he carried around a list at times.

MATT KIELTY: This list he kept in his pocket.

JERYL LYNN HILLEMAN: List of diseases that still had yet to be conquered. And I think it was a reminder that, you know, for him, his work would never be done.

PAUL OFFIT: And what - he would say this. He would say it was like putting up a fence. And, you know, then you take a break and, you know, everybody gathers around, and they drink from - you know, from this bucket of water, and they pass the ladle around. And then you're done, and then you go back to doing it again. He was never, ever satisfied.

MATT KIELTY: Well, so after mumps, it was measles.

HEATHER RADKE: And with measles, there's actually already a vaccine in existence.

PAUL OFFIT: And, I mean, that vaccine worked. But it wasn't quite attenuated enough.

HEATHER RADKE: Like, it wasn't weak enough, so you would have to get another shot at the same time in your other arm so you didn't get sick.

PAUL OFFIT: Maurice then just took that virus and very quickly attenuated it so that it was perfect. That virus bounces off you. It's a remarkable vaccine. And so we eliminated measles, the most contagious of the vaccine-preventable diseases, because it was so incredibly effective.

HEATHER RADKE: Yeah. So here's - so this is a.

JAD ABUMRAD: Yeah, you got a list?

HEATHER RADKE: Yeah, it's a - this is vaccines that Hilleman developed.

HEATHER RADKE: OK, so chicken pox.

HEATHER RADKE: Yeah, chicken pox was a late latecomer.

HEATHER RADKE: So chicken pox, adenovirus, measles, mumps, rubella - which he combined into the MMR vaccine that we all get - Japanese encephalitis, meningococcus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, pneumococcus, Haemophilus influenzae type B and then others.

MATT KIELTY: By the end of his career, he developed over 40 vaccines.

HEATHER RADKE: Including eight of the 14 that we all get as children.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAURICE HILLEMAN: Well, looking back on one's lifetime, you'll say, gee, what have I done? Have I done enough for the world to justify having been here, you know? That's a big worry to people from Montana, at least. And I would say I'm kind of pleased about all this. I'm not smug about it, but I'm pleased because there's a great joy in being useful. And that's the satisfaction that you get out of it.

MATT KIELTY: And just to, quick, give you, like, context to Hilleman's work, Paul actually helped to create one of the 14 vaccines we get as kids.

MATT KIELTY: Yeah. And it took him 26 years. So he says when he first learned about Hilleman and what all he had accomplished.

PAUL OFFIT: It was like trying to imagine another universe.

PAUL OFFIT: But he was humble. As rough as he was and as crude as he could be (laughter) and how - as profane as he could be, he was a humble man. He never promoted himself. So he just always flew below the radar, remarkably enough, given his accomplishments. I honestly think he was the single most-accomplished scientist in history. And when he died, I was at a - I gave a talk at the University of Pittsburgh. His son-in-law called me to say that he had passed away. And then after I heard that news, I walked in among a group of 35 to 50 pediatricians and say, you know, here's this man, Maurice Hilleman, who just passed away. No one heard of him. No one - zero. And these are pediatricians who give his vaccines.

MATT KIELTY: Did that surprise you in that moment?

PAUL OFFIT: Yeah. Yes, it did.

MATT KIELTY: Did it sadden you?

HEATHER RADKE: Do you think his humility, which is - you're saying is part of the reason we don't remember him, is also part of what made him good at his job?

PAUL OFFIT: In some ways, I think - he was never stopping to take a bow. But to be honest, I think it's all wrong. I mean, I think no one should be taking bows. I mean, I really - every time a CEO opens his mouth, I really shudder to hear what they say because they're always beating their chest about how quickly they're doing this and how well it's going.

HEATHER RADKE: Paul was talking about some of the CEOs who are at the companies who are at the forefront of manufacturing the COVID vaccine. And when he says he shudders, it's not just because of all the ways the development of the vaccine could go wrong, but also because it seems like they're not really recognizing the cost even when it goes right.

PAUL OFFIT: Because there has never been a medical breakthrough in history that has not been associated with a price. When Thomas Francis did the polio field trial in the mid-1950s, Jonas Salk had made his vaccine, but he didn't know whether it worked or not. So they chose to do a big field trial. Four hundred and twenty thousand children were given his vaccine over a year period funded by the March of Dimes. Two hundred thousand were given placebo - first- and second-graders throughout the country. And then after it was over, Thomas Francis stood up on the podium at Rackham Hall at the University of Michigan and said, safe, potent and effective. That's what he said. Those three words were the headline of every major newspaper in this country. I mean, church bells rang. Synagogues and churches held special prayer meetings. Department stores stopped. Trials stopped, you know, so the judges could hear that announcement. It was announced over the Voice of America.

Well, the question is, how do we know that it worked? We knew that it worked because 16 children in that study died from polio, all in the placebo group. Thirty-six children were permanently paralyzed, 34 in the placebo group. But for the flip of a coin, those children could have been alive and well today. Those were first- and second-graders in the 1950s. I was a first- and second-grader in the 1950s. I mean, those people suffered or died because they just happened to be in the control group. That's what knowledge takes. And that was - that statistic never really rang. I mean, we were so busy celebrating that that I think we didn't really stop and take a look at just how one comes to acquire knowledge.

MATT KIELTY: Yeah, I just came across this quote from Jonas Salk, who sent a letter to a man named O'Connor, who - I don't know who O'Connor is or was.

PAUL OFFIT: He headed the March of Dimes program.

MATT KIELTY: OK. And Salk wrote, I would feel that every child who is injected with a placebo and becomes paralyzed will do so at my hands.

PAUL OFFIT: That's right. That's what I was alluding to.

MATT KIELTY: And that those who argued - those demanding a placebo-controlled trial, he argued, took the position in order to reach a statistical endpoint because, quote, "values in which the worship of science involves the sacrifice of humanitarian principles on the altar of rigid methodology," end quote.

PAUL OFFIT: Yeah, that's good. Yeah. No, I think Jonas Salk was always heartbroken when that trial was done because he knew that there would be children who would intentionally not be given the vaccine. I mean, the one thing is to say, as you roll out a vaccine - like the Ebola vaccine, when it rolled out into West Africa, not everybody got it at once. And so some people got it, some people didn't, and some of the people who didn't get it obviously weren't saved.

But it's different than when you actually purposefully don't give a vaccine for a period of a year. You're making the choice. You're asking a child to participate in something, and you know that half of them, half of those children, aren't going to be getting the vaccine. It just feels different. You're actually doing a trial where you know there are children who may die and be paralyzed in that other half because they haven't gotten the vaccine. And the truth be told, that's the only way you're going to know that.

HEATHER RADKE: And Paul told us that this is actually what's happening with COVID now. A while back - I don't know if you remember this - but there was a guy in Brazil who was part of a COVID trial who died.

PAUL OFFIT: You know, we all held our breath to see whether the person was in the placebo group or the vaccine group. And everybody breathed a sigh of relief when the person was in the placebo group because now you know that the vaccine didn't kill them.

HEATHER RADKE: But now what you know is that COVID killed him.

PAUL OFFIT: And had he been in the other group, he probably wouldn't have died. I'm just saying you're constructing an experiment where, by definition, you're not going to learn unless people suffer or hospitalize or die. That's the experiment you're conducting.

MATT KIELTY: There seemingly always is some sort of cost, and someone gets sacrificed to progress. And there's a question of who bears the burden of that sacrifice, and I think oftentimes it's marginalized communities. But yet, inevitably, there - like, blood is sort of shed, is what it feels like.

JAD ABUMRAD: Reporters Heather Radke and Matt Kielty.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'VE GOT THE MUMPS")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) I ain't been to school now for almost a week, I got a big lump on my left-hand cheek. Teacher said not to come back again till the doctor made it better. Ma said, oh, what ails my child? His face is full of lumps. And Pa looked at me and said, oh, bejebs (ph), our angel has the mumps. I've got the mumps. I've got the mumps. Ma gave me.

MATT KIELTY: (Singing) And don't tell Pa.

OK, special thanks to - well, a huge special thanks to Donald Mitchell, the filmmaker who passed us a lot of this audio of Maurice Hilleman. His movie is called "Hilleman: A Perilous Quest To Save The World's Children." You can watch the film online or parts of it at The Vaccine Makers Project. Also to Elaine Icanus (ph) and to Anna Vichuk (ph) and Andrew Backer (ph), who performed this lovely rendition.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'VE GOT THE MUMPS")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) I said I've got the mumps.

MATT KIELTY: . Of the "Mumps" sheet music Heather found.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'VE GOT THE MUMPS")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Don't get up for breakfast till it's nearly 10. For a nickel, I'll rub up again you, and then you have the mumps.

MATT KIELTY: All right. That's it for me. Jad?

JAD ABUMRAD: OK. I'm Jad Abumrad. Thank you all for listening.

STEPHEN: Hi. This is Stephen (ph) phoning from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. RADIOLAB was created by Jad Abumrad and is edited by Soren Wheeler. Lulu Miller and Latif Nasser are our co-hosts. Dylan Keefe is our director of sound design. And Suzie Lechtenberg is our executive producer. Our staff includes Simon Adler, Jeremy Bloom, Becca Bressler, Rachael Cusick, David Gebel, Matt Kielty, Tobin Low, Annie McEwen, Sarah Qari, Arianne Wack, Pat Walters and Molly Webster, with help from Shima Oliaee, Sarah Sandbach and Jonny Moens. Our fact-checker is Michelle Harris.

Copyright © 2020 New York Public Radio. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use at www.wnyc.org for further information.

New York Public Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline, often by contractors. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of New York Public Radio&rsquos programming is the audio record.


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S-Town is a podcast from Serial and This American Life, hosted by Brian Reed, about a man named John who despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks Brian to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, and the search for the truth leads to a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life.

Brian, a longtime This American Life producer, started reporting this story more than three years before it aired, when he got an email from John with the subject line “John B McLemore lives in Shittown Alabama.”


Hoosick History

The Hoosick Township Historical Society and the Louis Miller Museum are located within the beautiful village of Hoosick Falls. Steeped in history, this region has played host to exploration, revolution, and industry. Our mission is to preserve the historic narratives and artifacts specific to our region while also inspiring a love of history in the next generation.

The Louis Miller Museum and historical society archives are open Monday through Friday 11am to 2pm.

Armed Forces Day & NYS Historic Marker Unveiling May 15th Noon

Following the ceremony at Liberty Park, we will be unveiling the Harris Hawthorne Medal of Honor NYS Historic Marker In Lower Maple Grove.

Photographer Erwin Hambright Open Air Gallery May 27th 4-8pm

Featured will be a multitude of photographs taken by photographer Erwin Hambright. Hambright’s work of contemporary scenes of Hoosick and the surrounding region will be for sale with proceeds to benefit the Historical Society.

Enjoy live entertainment with the Bennington Traditional Jazz Band and light refreshments.

Proceeds from the sale of items and the auction at this event will support the Historical Society’s Genealogy Preservation Project, our ongoing program to digitize death certificates and funeral records from the 1880s.

Who was the legendary Natty Bumppo?

Listen to the recent WAMC podcast featuring our own director, Joyce Brewer.

Preserve our future and our past with your membership.

Please consider offering a gift in support of the Hoosick Township Historical Society and the Louis Miller Museum. Your contribution helps further ongoing research and preservation of materials. Our staff receives multiple requests each week for information on area families, individuals, and locations. These requests require the efforts and time of our staff. Your support makes this individual attention possible! Thank you.

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Share All sharing options for: Diving deep into the mud with Paul Reed

Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

When the Sixers first drafted Paul Reed 58th overall in the 2020 NBA Draft, it was met with a general reaction of simply not knowing much about his play. He wasn’t a big name on many draft boards, commonly being found in the mid to late second round (if listed at all). Reed was a very under-the-radar prospect heading into the draft, after putting up 3 seasons with the DePaul Blue Demons.

Fast forward to now, people understand a lot more of what Paul Reed can really do on the basketball court. While his 55 minutes of playing time at the NBA level offer us a minuscule glimpse, we’ve seen him flat out dominate at the G-League level with the Delaware Blue Coats.

Paul Reed has put together an impressive case through 15 G-League games which is the complete regular season for this year. He not only has a chance to win the G-League’s rookie of the year award, he has a strong case for MVP.

Final WARP for the G League regular season. Note that unlike the WARP ratings I calculate for NBA players, these are not position-adjusted, so the top of the leaderboard tends to be heavy on bigs. pic.twitter.com/hZaDhul0w7

— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) March 8, 2021

Paul Reed has been a joy to watch on both ends while leading the Blue Coats to their first playoff berth in franchise history at a record of 10-5. He’s filled up the stat sheet across the board while contributing to a winning team.

You can’t help but be impressed while looking at Paul Reed’s stats in the G-League Bubble. He’s contributed on every major stat and then some. Through 15 games he’s averaged: 31.5 minutes per game, 22.3 points per game, 11.8 rebounds per game, 2.3 assists per game, 1.9 steals per game, and 1.8 blocks per game. Not only is Paul Reed filling up the stat sheet, he’s doing so on incredible efficiency: averaging an impressive 58.8 field goal percentage, 44.4 three point percentage, and a 65.9 true shooting percentage.

One of the most impressive areas of Reed’s play would be his shooting. He’s looking comfortable and confident in taking midrange or three point jumpshots. While the G-League defense is certainly a tier below the NBA’s, his average of over 44% from three is very promising. Not only has he shot efficiently, but he’s averaged an impressive percentage on a decent sample, averaging over 3.6 attempts from beyond the arc per game.

Will his unorthodox form translate to the NBA as well as it has in the G-League? I do have some concerns. It’s a longer release than most and NBA defenses could close out on him quickly. However, Reed’s game isn’t just shooting jumpers. He’ll only be called upon to use it in a NBA setting when he’s wide open for a catch shoot or pick and pop. In limited uses, I’m optimistic about Reed’s jumper.

In addition to Reed’s three point shooting as an area of growth and promise, there’s been many other areas where he’s excelled. Defense was Reed’s calling card coming out of DePaul: he was everywhere on defense, could handle his own on switches, and wreak havoc on the boards. The G-League has proven no different for Reed as he’s been one of the best defenders in the entire league.

Reed has an impressive defensive skill set that can range from blocking shots around the rim to successfully switching onto quicker guards with ease. He plays with an incredibly high motor and never gives up on plays.

Reed has tremendous defensive instincts that could be huge for the Sixers in the coming future. However, his defensive discipline will need to be improved before getting consistent NBA playing time. He got into some foul trouble during the G-League regular season: averaging a team-high of over 4 fouls per game. But if Reed can play in control, he has all of the physical and intangible skills to become a great switchable NBA defender.

The Delaware Blue Coats used Reed almost exclusively as a center in the G-League Bubble — a notable trend. We’ve seen the Sixers and Blue Coats often mirror each other in terms of systems implementation to ease to transition for players between teams. Reed played both the power forward and center position in college, but it’s very possible that the Sixers see him as a center going forward. His fit alongside Ben Simmons would be almost seemless, as Reed is capable of hitting perimeter shots and running the floor in transition.

The last area I’ll touch on will be in regards to Reed’s scoring around the rim, which is quite impressive. Reed has shown flashes of impressive foot work and acitivty around the rim. As stated before, Reed plays with a very high motor which he uses to his advantage. Reed would often be found putting back shot attempts from himself or teammates. Ranging from a spin-move to euro-steps, Reed has a lot of tricks within his bag.

Paul Reed has all of the makings to be a quality player at the NBA level. Coming into this season he was viewed as a project player who possessed a lot of skills but was in need of some polishing and development. I think it’s safe to say that Reed is ahead of schedule in terms of his development and we may be seeing him sooner rather than later if he can maintain this type of play. The Sixers found a legitimate prospect at the end of the 2020 draft in Reed.

While everyone is campaigning for Joel Embiid to win MVP, we should also be doing the same for Paul Reed at the G-League level. His play on both ends of the court has shown the basketball world that he belongs and may be contributing to the team quicker than anticipated. It may be just time for Paul Reed to get out of the mud.


Our Site Podcast with Paul Reed - History

The Tor Project, Inc, became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2006, but the idea of "onion routing" began in the mid 1990s.

Just like Tor users, the developers, researchers, and founders who've made Tor possible are a diverse group of people. But all of the people who have been involved in Tor are united by a common belief: internet users should have private access to an uncensored web.

In the 1990s, the lack of security on the internet and its ability to be used for tracking and surveillance was becoming clear, and in 1995, David Goldschlag, Mike Reed, and Paul Syverson at the U.S. Naval Research Lab (NRL) asked themselves if there was a way to create internet connections that don't reveal who is talking to whom, even to someone monitoring the network. Their answer was to create and deploy the first research designs and prototypes of onion routing.

The goal of onion routing was to have a way to use the internet with as much privacy as possible, and the idea was to route traffic through multiple servers and encrypt it each step of the way. This is still a simple explanation for how Tor works today.

In the early 2000s, Roger Dingledine, a recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate, began working on an NRL onion routing project with Paul Syverson. To distinguish this original work at NRL from other onion routing efforts that were starting to pop up elsewhere, Roger called the project Tor, which stood for The Onion Routing. Nick Mathewson, a classmate of Roger's at MIT, joined the project soon after.

From its inception in the 1990s, onion routing was conceived to rely on a decentralized network. The network needed to be operated by entities with diverse interests and trust assumptions, and the software needed to be free and open to maximize transparency and decentralization. That's why in October 2002 when the Tor network was initially deployed, its code was released under a free and open software license. By the end of 2003, the network had about a dozen volunteer nodes, mostly in the U.S., plus one in Germany.

Recognizing the benefit of Tor to digital rights, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) began funding Roger's and Nick's work on Tor in 2004. In 2006, the Tor Project, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was founded to maintain Tor's development.

In 2007, the organization began developing bridges to the Tor network to address censorship, such as the need to get around government firewalls, in order for its users to access the open web.

Tor began gaining popularity among activists and tech-savvy users interested in privacy, but it was still difficult for less-technically savvy people to use, so starting in 2005, development of tools beyond just the Tor proxy began. Development of Tor Browser began in 2008.

With Tor Browser having made Tor more accessible to everyday internet users and activists, Tor was an instrumental tool during the Arab Spring beginning in late 2010. It not only protected people's identity online but also allowed them to access critical resources, social media, and websites which were blocked.

The need for tools safeguarding against mass surveillance became a mainstream concern thanks to the Snowden revelations in 2013. Not only was Tor instrumental to Snowden's whistleblowing, but content of the documents also upheld assurances that, at that time, Tor could not be cracked.

People's awareness of tracking, surveillance, and censorship may have increased, but so has the prevalence of these hindrances to internet freedom. Today, the network has thousands of relays run by volunteers and millions of users worldwide. And it is this diversity that keeps Tor users safe.

We, at the Tor Project, fight every day for everyone to have private access to an uncensored internet, and Tor has become the world's strongest tool for privacy and freedom online.

But Tor is more than just software. It is a labor of love produced by an international community of people devoted to human rights. The Tor Project is deeply committed to transparency and the safety of its users.


HSBC has developed a number of traditions over its years in business and employed people who would later find fame in other fields. For example:

  • The bank’s name is derived from the initials of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, the founding member of HSBC
  • HSBC’s red and white hexagon symbol was developed from the bank’s original house flag which was in turn based on the cross of St Andrew
  • The HSBC lions are nicknamed Stephen and Stitt after senior managers from the 1920s
  • The comic author P G Wodehouse, creator of Jeeves and Wooster, spent two years working at HSBC’s London office. He was recorded as being late for work 20 times in his first year


Mysteries and Monsters: Episode 126 On the Search For Dragons with Richard Freeman

This week, our good friend Richard Freeman re-joins us to discuss the history of Dragons, a creature that has haunted humanity's dreams since time began.

From Asia to Australia, Europe to the America's, tales of Dragons go back centuries, yet even in this modern era, people are incrdibly still claiming to see Dragons.

Richard takes us through the history of Dragons, the different types and the stories that have stood the test of time as well diving in to some of the more modern sightings from China, Russia, Iceland and the USA.

A big thank you to Richard for joining me again.

Richard can be contacted via [email protected]


Palestine Will Be Free

Palestine is the moral barometer of Indigenous North America. While there is widespread agreement among Native people that European colonialism and Indigenous genocide is criminal and immoral, there are a surprisingly high number of Native politicians, elites, and public figures who don’t extend the same sympathies to Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims. They range from outright Zionists who support Palestinian ethnic cleansing to liberal centrists who don’t support Palestinian rights of protest and resistance. We, The Red Nation, pledge to fulfill our commitment to Palestinian liberation. Read in full.


Wrap Up

While there are several other great business podcasts the team here at Time Doctor can recommend, these are some of the best.

It’s difficult to find time to listen to all podcasts, but if you write down your most pressing business questions, read through the podcast topic descriptions, and listen to some sample episodes, you’ll be able to find the podcast that’s the perfect fit for you and your team.

Leading a remote business can be difficult, but if you use the tools and mentorship that you have at your hand, you’ll gather the knowledge you need to succeed.

At Time Doctor, we also aim to provide business leaders with tools to increase productivity. Check out our time tracking software today.


Watch the video: #1 VODCAST Video Podcast In Conversation with Helge Munk