A fascinating and shocking historical exposé, The Malaria Project is the story of
America’s secret mission to combat malaria during World War II—a campaign
modeled after a German project which tested experimental drugs on men gone mad
American war planners, foreseeing the tactical need for a
malaria drug, recreated the German model, then grew it tenfold. Quickly
becoming the biggest and most important medical initiative of the war, the
project tasked dozens of the country’s top research scientists and university
labs to find a treatment to remedy half a million US troops incapacitated by
Spearheading the new US effort was Dr. Lowell T. Coggeshall,
the son of a poor Indiana farmer whose persistent drive and curiosity led him
to become one of the most innovative thinkers in solving the malaria problem.
He recruited private corporations, such as today’s Squibb and Eli Lilly, and
the nation’s best chemists out of Harvard and Johns Hopkins to make novel
compounds that skilled technicians tested on birds. Giants in the field of
clinical research, including the future NIH director James Shannon, then tested
the drugs on mental health patients and convicted criminals—including infamous
murderer Nathan Leopold.
By 1943, a dozen strains of malaria brought home in the
veins of sick soldiers were injected into these human guinea pigs for drug
studies. After hundreds of trials and many deaths, they found their “magic
bullet,” but not in a US laboratory. America’s best weapon against malaria,
still used today, was captured in battle from the Nazis. Called chloroquine, it
went on to save more lives than any other drug in history.
Karen M. Masterson, a journalist turned malaria researcher,
uncovers the complete story behind this dark tale of science, medicine, and
war. Illuminating, riveting, and surprising, The Malaria Project captures the ethical perils of seeking
treatments for disease while ignoring the human condition. Download and start listening now!