Historian Beverly Gage on Her Rare Disease Diagnosis

1:00     Beverly’s disease expressed itself as joint pain that “moved around” but would not go away.  Was it arthritis?  Inflammation?  Auto-immune disease?  

6:30     A biographer turns her investigative skills on herself in the (ultimately misguided) faith that she could uncover the cause of her medical problems.

12:45   After discovering that her medical problems were linked to a mutation in PLGC2, Beverly becomes an N-of-1 research project at the NIH

19:15   What geneticists and historians have in common: divining a narrative from not quite enough information.

34:00  Was it there all along and she hadn’t noticed?  Her doctor warns of the dangers of looking at retrospective re-analysis and I propose “the Keith Richards test” for people (i.e., women) inclined to blame themselves.



Beverly Gage, Yale professor of American History and author, is more likely to be found on podcasts discussing her new (and wildly acclaimed) biography, “G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century". But in 2019 her life took an unexpected turn, as a chance encounter with a plant kickstarted what turned out to be a rare disease that had – inexplicably – lain dormant for 40 years.  

She’s not just a zebra, as Beverly explains in her recent New Yorker article, she’s a zebra with polka dots.

Link to the article: “Nobody Has My Condition But Me

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