Jim Allison: Breakthrough

Born in 1948 in a small Texas town that was something of a mix between Friday Night Lights and The Last Picture Show, he used his chemistry set to construct bombs in the barn. For decades afterward, he’d struggle against creationists and scientists before being awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for his quest to find a cure for cancer. Jim Allison was at ground zero in the world of cutting edge medicine – but also, by attending UT Austin in 1965, he was amongst a blossoming music scene that included psychedelic bands and his idol, Willie Nelson, who he met and managed to play blues harmonica for, spending all night honky-tonking and showing up next day for a 36-hour lab session. At a time when immunology was considered “holistic” medicine, after attending a conference on T-cell receptors, he focused his attention on how tumors escape the immune system which, combined with diligence and his passion for problem solving, produced results. Fascinating documentary on how hesitant modern medicine is to new ideas.