Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer

How Gertrude Elion Became a Pioneer of Modern Medicine

Gertrude Elion and George Hitchings were a drug-making dream team. They built highly efficient, targeted synthetic drugs to perform specific tasks. Elion and her team built a new antiviral drug in the 1970s to treat herpes, ushering in a new age of medicine and paving the way for designer drugs that could treat a huge range of illnesses.

How Gertrude Elion Became a Pioneer of Modern Medicine

5m 3s

  • Behavior: asset-mezzanine-16x9


    S1 E4 - 53m 6s

    Understand the importance of persuading the public to protect themselves during health crises. History shows that handwashing, social distancing and grassroots campaigning all play important roles in helping to shift behavior and save lives.

  • Data: asset-mezzanine-16x9


    S1 E3 - 53m 6s

    Track the importance of data mapping and analysis in the quest to improve public health. The painstaking work of past data detectives made us aware of epidemic "curves" as well as the extent of health inequalities among different U.S. communities.

  • Medical Drugs: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Medical Drugs

    S1 E2 - 53m 6s

    Learn about the surprisingly recent invention of medicine that combats illness directly, such as antibiotics. From the accidental discovery of penicillin to today’s hunt for antivirals, this history underpins work to find COVID-19 treatments.

WETA Passport

Stream tens of thousands of hours of your PBS and local favorites with WETA Passport whenever and wherever you want. Catch up on a single episode or binge-watch full seasons before they air on TV.