Tackling Malaria in Malawi

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Going to the Transom Traveling Workshop in June 2015 was a life-changing experience for me. It was a weeklong workshop on how to produce a radio story from start to finish. It was incredible to devote an entire week to a creative pursuit I had always been interested in. In medicine, we pour so much time, energy, and personal identity into our training. We constantly work towards the next milestone, which is often years away. Once I had been an attending physician for a few years, I thought – what’s next? Am I done learning and growing as a person? Pursuing radio storytelling has allowed me to be a wide-eyed student again, learning totally new skills and making rookie mistakes. But it also taps into a fundamental quality that so many physicians will recognize: the desire to listen to people’s stories, to get the facts right, and to honor the person’s humanity.

The radio story below, on Dr. Miriam Laufer, was the first piece I did on my own. Dr. Laufer had just won a Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Gates Foundation for her innovative work to eradicate malaria in Malawi. I wanted to learn more about her work, and how the risks she’s taken in her career have paid off. Dr. Miriam Laufer’s career as a malaria expert has been full of surprises. Like how she became interested in malaria in the first place. Or how she views the legacy she’ll leave behind.