On May 18, W. French Anderson, known as the “father of gene therapy,” was released from prison on parole. Two weeks later, the 81-year-old scientist, pediatrician, and ex-con welcomed science writer Sharon Begley to his home in California for several days of interviews, which he gave with a GPS tracking device encircling his ankle. “This is what it has come to for a world-renowned scientist who was convicted of sexually molesting a colleague’s young daughter,” she writes at the top of her warm, weird, and at times outrageous profile for STAT last week.
There’s been a lot of talk, in recent months, about the legacies of monstrous men in the arts. We’ve reviewed the benefits and risks associated with their public shaming. We’ve re-appraised their prior work. We’ve wondered whether prodigious talents should be allowed to re-emerge and keep creating; and then we’ve theorized that our love of second chances enabled them from the start. Much less consideration has been given to the Monstrous Men in Science—the sundry research “pioneers” and “geniuses” who have turned out to be abusive bullies... see more