About the podcast Serum
Episodes for Serum
- Season 1
The story of Precious Thomas, the brave little girl fighting HIV, captured people’s attention in the 1990s, and changed hearts and minds about the AIDS epidemic. And when Gary Davis’ serum seemingly brought about a dramatic improvement in the girl’s health, it gave a major boost to his profile and work. For the doctor’s supporters, Precious Thomas was — and still is — the best proof that Gary Davis’ serum could be effective. But for years, she refused to talk about what exactly happened — if her viral load had stayed undetectable, if she was “cured.” Then one afternoon, she sends a message to Grant. “Hello, I’m ready to speak my part and my truth if you still wanna listen.” She now uses a different name, has reclaimed her life outside of the spotlight, and is ready to tell her side of the story.
The Eternal Chameleon
Gary Davis wanted to leave England and all of his troubles there behind. Eventually, he reconnected with an American investor, somebody he thought could reclaim the serum, gain legitimacy for it in the US — and perhaps keep the circling sharks at bay. The new effort to bring the serum to market would end up being his last. Grant checks into this American investor, who turns out to be a wealthy and powerful man from Texas. His business ventures have attracted legal scrutiny yet appear to have left him relatively unscathed. We find financial fraud, a suspicious suicide, ties to a fervent religious cult, and perhaps connections to federal intelligence agencies. Is this man still actively pushing a drug treatment based on the goat serum long after the doctor’s death? And how will he react to new questions about Gary Davis all these years later?
Illegitimi non Carborundum
Goat’s blood is in the water, and sharks are circling. A powerlifter from North Carolina has connected Gary Davis to a wealthy and influential man in London, who appears to have unlimited resources. Dr. Davis desperately needs financial support, but also wants to hold on to his own vision for the serum. Interests collide — and the serum’s formula is spun into a new, murky business venture. A dusty old VHS tape turns out to be a Rosetta Stone in terms of piecing together what happened when the doctor was in England — and who might have encouraged a cowboy from Jet to skip town and disappear.
Where are the people Gary Davis treated with the serum? Why is nobody who took it willing to talk? A very cagey former patient finally agrees to meet with Grant, under several specific conditions: Only if it rains, only if Grant comes to visit him in his very small town, and only if they can talk where no one else can hear them. The stranger finally pulls up in his pickup truck, at a tumbleweed intersection in rural Oklahoma, windows tinted too dark to see him. And his story is even weirder than all the conditions may have suggested.
Where The Magic Happened
Deep conversations with the doctor’s family members paint a complicated picture of Gary Davis, the man — and Gary Davis, the legend. The doctor was often broke and filed for bankruptcy twice, but then suddenly seemed to have lots of money. Several people tell Grant this wealth may have come from the doctor’s high-profile clients —- including one NBA superstar. Davis’ daughter wants to talk about how her father died, and the fact that she feels like something bad happened to him. His niece has no interest in getting into that debate, and feels it’s not even a question. So, what really happened the night Gary Davis died?
99 Percent Certainty
What really happened to Gary Davis and his serum? Grant starts reaching out to the doctor’s family members. They are eager to tell their stories – but all have different perspectives. The daughter who spent much of her childhood in Davis’ lab, the son who was skeptical at first but then came around, the niece who tried to help Davis bring the serum to fruition in the shadow of historic racial violence. A road trip to Tulsa brings a deeper understanding of Gary Davis — and an anonymous tip leads to new insights: After the FDA shut down a clinical trial for Davis’ serum, at least one biopharmaceutical company created its own. Its trials? Approved, funded by the NIH.
Red Flags and Green Lights
Grant gets in touch with one of the last people to have seen Dr. Davis’ serum in action, a Tulsa photographer named Doug Henderson. The conversation reveals that in 2004, Dr. Davis conducted human trials in Africa – enlisting the help of the photographer and celebrity Bishop Carton Pearson to document and publicize his work. What they witness is both astonishing and shocking: trials with the doctor’s serum seem to leave participants completely recovered. But soon, things fall apart. Dr. Davis appears panicked and afraid for his life. He disappears. Rumors abound. Back in Oklahoma, the photographer is asked to erase all evidence that any of this ever happened. Then he gets word: The doctor is dead.
Turn Your Back
During the height of the AIDS crisis, one man sues in court to try Dr. Davis’ goat serum — which has not been approved by the FDA. A desperate mother decides it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission. She takes her little girl, and ventures halfway across the country to meet the doctor. She later tells reporters that she had to take a drastic step to get her hands on the treatment but has no regrets. Then: a ray of hope. The 7-year-old girl begins to recover after taking the doctor’s unapproved serum, and her doctors at the National Institutes of Health take notice. So, why didn’t the NIH investigate further? And why won’t the girl, now all grown up, answer Grant’s messages?
About the podcast Serum
Episodes for Serum