10 episodes

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.

Serum WHYY

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8 • 149 Ratings

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.

    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

    • 42 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

    • 54 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 1 min
    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 4 min
    Poster Boy

    Poster Boy

    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.

    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

    • 38 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
149 Ratings

149 Ratings

TrixyB ,

Wait, what‽‽

This reporter has done an amazing job unwinding the threads of a seemingly preposterous story… lending weight to the saying that truth is stranger than fiction.

Wilsonac2 ,

Amazing Reporting

Grant is the epitome of an investigative journalist, I’m a fan for life. This series is real news at its finest and a truly amazing story!

cgjbvxs ,

Interesting, gripping

Very well investigated and reported.

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