A bright young star on the medical school faculty, Jason Pearce worries that he'll lose NIH funding as his basic research falters. He signs a contract with a venture capital company that enables him to embark on a study of mice whose memory fails as they age. He discovers that their forgetfulness is due to a defective memory gene; that the loss can be prevented by injecting young mice with the normal memory gene; and that the same type of gene defect increases the risk of Alzheimer's Disease. With approval of his medical school's ethics review board, he launches a randomized clinical trial to see if injection of a normal human memory gene can prevent Alzheimer's Disease. Betsy Matthews, a middle-aged African-American, develops leukemia a year after she receives the injection. A colleague of Jason's discovers that the injected memory gene triggered Betsy's leukemia. Nobody suspects negligence until Janice Polk, a young investigative reporter, asks a question that others had failed to ask. The answer shatters Jason and his family, his medical school, and the venture capital company.
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