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Reporter/Doctor Talks Of The Flight 17 Death Of Her Mentor, AIDS Researcher Joep Lange

Doualy Xaykaothao
Seema Yasmin is a professor in practice at the University of Texas at Dallas and a staff writer at the Dallas Morning News.

The Malaysia Airlines tragedy last week has rocked the world of AIDS research. An international AIDS conference started Sunday with a tribute to the half-dozen researchers who died on Flight 17. 

One of them was Dr. Joep Lange. He was former president of the International AIDS Society – and a mentor to a young would-be doctor named SeemaYasmin. She’s now a staff writer for the Dallas Morning News and she sits down with KERA’s Rick Holter.

Interview Highlights: Seema Yasmin…

..On Dr. Joep Lange’s contributions to AIDS research:

“There was a time in HIV/AIDS research when people thought, ‘we have treatments now in HIV/AIDS but there are some places we can’t get them to.’ And Joep said, ‘No, if we can get a cold can of coke to remote villages in Africa, we can get HIV medications there.’ And it was a very brave thing to do. Science is almost about following the pack. Joep was a very brave, singular voice on prestigious panels saying, ‘we can get HIV/AIDS treatments to the poorest of the poor, and not only can we, but we have to.’”

…On some of the cases she worked on at the Centers for Disease Control:

"We had an outbreak of paralysis among inmates in a maximum security prison in the middle of the Arizona desert that turned out to be caused by botulism because they were brewing alcohol in their toilets, inside their cells. Then we had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Outbreak on some of the American Indian reservations, so there were some strange things, but it was my dream job."

…On her reasons for becoming a reporter:

“You can only serve as an epidemic intelligence officer for two years, so as those two years were wrapping up, I thought, ‘what on Earth can I do that can be half as exciting as this? And I thought, ‘well another way of helping people or informing people is by sharing interesting stories with them and that would take me to really exciting and interesting places.'” 

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter is KERA's vice president of news. He oversees news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News has earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.