10 episodes

A Black physician, his quest to cure AIDS, and the chase to find out what happened next.



A production of WHYY’s The Pulse and Local Trance Media. For more on Serum, subscribe to our newsletter: https://localtrance.substack.com/

Serum Local Trance

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.7 • 172 Ratings

A Black physician, his quest to cure AIDS, and the chase to find out what happened next.



A production of WHYY’s The Pulse and Local Trance Media. For more on Serum, subscribe to our newsletter: https://localtrance.substack.com/

    Trailer: Serum

    Trailer: Serum

    A Black doctor, a potential cure for AIDS, and the quest to find out what happened to it.
    A production of WHYY’s The Pulse and Local Trance Media
    Gary Davis, an Ivy League trained Black physician from Tulsa, Oklahoma, had one passion: to find a cure for AIDS. For years, he had witnessed the virus kill his patients and members of his community. He started his research in the early 90s, working with goats to tap into their strong immune response to the HIV virus. He rented a lab and collaborated with scientists at Tuskegee University. Within a few years, Davis brought his research to the FDA to start a clinical trial — but just hours before it was supposed to start — his trial was shut down. Davis had powerful critics, among them NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci. He also had many ardent supporters, who had heard about the serum and its potential. Some sued in court to be allowed to try it, while others chose to ask for forgiveness rather than permission to get their hands on it.
    Davis eventually took his work abroad, chasing a way to develop this cure, conducting human trials in Africa, forging dubious alliances with international investors, celebrities, sports stars, cult leaders and dangerous con men.. When Davis died unexpectedly, without ever being able to bring his cure to all who needed it, many of his followers suspected foul play.
    What was the true potential of Davis’ serum — and who are the people who say it saved their lives? And why were U.S. health agencies so quick to dismiss it?
    Reporter Grant Hill spent two-and-a-half years on Davis’ trail, speaking to his family, patients, friends, and foes. He uncovered a tangled web of global connections, suspicion, and the persistent hope that the serum will yet see the light of day.
    New episodes released on Tuesdays, starting July 26th. Available wherever you listen to podcasts.
    Follow Serum on Twitter and Instagram @serumpodcast
    For questions or tips related to Serum, please contact Maiken Scott at mscott@whyy.org or Grant Hill at grant@localtrancemedia.com

    • 4 min
    Raison D’Être

    Raison D’Être

    Reporter Grant Hill stumbles into a cab after a long night out. A conversation with the driver leads to a startling revelation: He claims to be a Hollywood insider, who helped a doctor develop a potential cure for AIDS in the 1990s. His Hollywood claims turn out to be true — but what about this cure for AIDS? A search turns up a Black physician named Gary Davis from Tulsa, Oklahoma who had a big dream: to use goat antibodies to develop a serum that would free the world from HIV and AIDS. What happened to the dream? And why did so many fear for the doctor’s life?
    Serum is a limited run podcast production of WHYY’s The Pulse and Local Trance Media.
    Follow Serum on Twitter and Instagram @serumpodcast
    For questions or tips related to Serum, please contact Maiken Scott at mscott@whyy.org or Grant Hill at grant@localtrancemedia.com

    • 31 min
    Turn Your Back

    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?
    Serum is a limited run podcast production of WHYY’s The Pulse and Local Trance Media.
    Follow Serum on Twitter and Instagram @serumpodcast
    For questions or tips related to Serum, please contact Maiken Scott at mscott@whyy.org or Grant Hill at grant@localtrancemedia.com

    • 41 min
    Red Flags and Green Lights

    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.
    Serum is a limited run podcast production of WHYY’s The Pulse and Local Trance Media.
    Follow Serum on Twitter and Instagram @serumpodcast
    For questions or tips related to Serum, please contact Maiken Scott at mscott@whyy.org or Grant Hill at grant@localtrancemedia.com

    • 53 min
    99 Percent Certainty

    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.
    Serum is a limited run podcast production of WHYY’s The Pulse and Local Trance Media.
    Follow Serum on Twitter and Instagram @serumpodcast
    For questions or tips related to Serum, please contact Maiken Scott at mscott@whyy.org or Grant Hill at grant@localtrancemedia.com

    • 1 hr
    Where The Magic Happened

    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?
    Serum is a limited run podcast production of WHYY’s The Pulse and Local Trance Media.
    Follow Serum on Twitter and Instagram @serumpodcast
    For questions or tips related to Serum, please contact Maiken Scott at mscott@whyy.org or Grant Hill at grant@localtrancemedia.com

    • 1 hr 3 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
172 Ratings

172 Ratings

SupermanMikail ,

Interesting story…

"Serum" podcast is an incredibly engaging and fast-paced thrill ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The storyline is expertly crafted, with just the right balance of suspense and mystery to keep listeners hooked. The characters are dynamic and well-developed, making it easy to become emotionally invested in their journey. Each episode builds on the last, creating a thrilling and immersive listening experience.

Whether you're a fan of the thriller genre or simply enjoy a good story, "Serum" is a must-listen. It's a testament to the power of audio storytelling and a shining example of what a great podcast can be. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a gripping, well-told tale.

Ripendelicious ,

Riveting story

I truly enjoyed this podcast - couldn’t wait for new episode. The host was engaging and I just loved the various voices telling this story. So good!

Nurse_Erica83 ,

This is a must listen podcast

Couldn’t stop listening. Finished all episodes in one night. Grant is doing it right and I can’t wait to hear more!

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