I just found out recently that Jennifer Lawrence will play
Elizabeth Holmes in a movie about Theranos.1 Now, I love Jennifer Lawrence and think she
is a tremendous actress, but does a movie about Theranos really need to be
made? In reality, we don’t even know how this drama is going to play out, so
what could possibly be written up in a script?
The thing about this movie, if it does eventually get made,
is that it will be putting the lab on the big screen. As I see it, this can go one of two ways. First,
it can be completely inaccurate both on the story of Theranos and the science
of laboratory medicine. Second, they can do their research and portray both the
story and the science correctly. Unfortunately, based off of every other
completely inaccurate medical movie and TV show out there, I’m putting my money
on option 1 at the moment. However, I don’t think this is a lost cause.
Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I think that there is a
possibility that we, as laboratory professionals, could have an impact on this
movie. When cast for a role, some actors will immerse themselves in character’s
life and culture to get a better understanding of how to play the role. What if
we could reach out via social media to the cast and crew to encourage them to
interview real lab professionals to educate them about what working in a lab
really entails? What if we invited them to the AACC Lab expo to get a feel for the
instrumentation and allowed them to tour actual clinical labs? Would they take
us up on the offer?
It may sound like a long shot, but if we have the
opportunity, I don’t see why we shouldn’t try. Our voices are powerful, but a
collective voice is even louder. Imagine
if we could get all of our professional societies to work together to contact
the makers of this film. As members of
professional societies, we could encourage them to do so.
If helping with the film doesn’t work out, we can always
provide our own stories on other potential mainstream outlets. A few years ago,
when the movie Contagion2 came out, the Dr. Oz show had an episode
discussing the real people behind Contagion. It featured a few people that
worked at the CDC, and they explained their jobs. There is no reason why we couldn’t do
something similar when this movie comes out.
It could be us on these talk shows telling everyone what it really means
to be a true lab professional—and all it takes is a collective voice on social
To those that say this is crazy or impossible, I leave you
with some words from the late, great Muhammad Ali, “Impossible is just a big
word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve
been given than to explore the power they have to change it.”
1. Bad Blood. IMDB. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5795144/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_3
2. Contagion. IMDB. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1598778/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1