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Dr. Thomas Starzl and team, November 1989

Courtesy of Associated Press

Burden of Genius will inspire a new generation of doctors, nurses, and other professionals to enter the field and carry on the vital work Dr. Starzl pioneered.


Dr. Starzl was initially reluctant to have his story told, both out of modesty and his concern that filmmakers would be unable to accurately portray such a complicated subject. He finally relented, when film producer/University of Pittsburgh Professor Carl Kurlander promised that the resulting film would be used to show doctors, nurses, medical students, and aspiring science innovators of all ages what it takes to make the impossible possible.

-Starzl resting in lounge  1978 Carl Iwasaki 011.tif

Producer Laura Davis and director Tjardus Greidanus were able to conduct exhaustive interviews with Dr. Starzl along with his colleagues many who now lead transplant centers around the world; patients grateful for Dr. Starzl's work including David Crosby, Jamie Redford, and Larry Kramer; and historian David McCullough who explained how Dr. Starzl and those like him will increasingly be seen as the heroes of the 20th Century.  


The filmmakers have heard over and over again from medical professionals and educators how useful Dr. Starzl's story will be as part of continuing education programs and science curriculums. Show&Tell looks forward to working with medical professionals and educators to find ways that Dr. Starzl's story can be used in classrooms, both in person and online.  From Middle schools  and High Schools to Universities and Medical Schools, Burden of Genius can be a valuable resource when teaching immunology, anatomy, pharmacology, bioethics, medical innovation, and more.  For those thinking about entering a field as demanding as transplantation, it shows both the sacrifices required, and the incredible rewards of being part of a life-saving transplant team.   

Dr. Thomas Starzl taking a break from surgery, 1978

Courtesy of Family of Carl Iwasaki (photographer)

"This honest reflection on the price of scientific progress is an effective reminder that the more than 100 000 people living today with transplanted organs have reason to be grateful to Starzl, and serves as an epitaph to this driven, unconventional, revered “genius” who died in 2017 aged 90."

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