Arthur Bank Book on Thalassemia to Be Published

November 17, 2008Arthur Bank, Professor Emeritus of Medicine and of Genetics and Development at Columbia University and a longtime leader in thalassemia research, has written a new book, “Turning Blood Red: The Fight for Life in Cooley’s Anemia,” which is being published by World Scientific Books.

Below, Dr. Bank answers some questions about “Turning Blood Red.”

What made you decide to write “Turning Blood Red?”

I wanted to tell the story of Cooley’s anemia from my own point of view since I have been involved with the Cooley’s anemia community and research on the disease for my whole professional life. I wanted to share what I knew about the disease with everyone who was interested in reading about it, hopefully in a way that was understandable to both professionals and lay people. I also wanted to tell the story of my research in thalassemia in my own way, in my own words. I have always loved writing, and Cooley’s anemia was a subject I thought I knew the most about and I could write about from many different points of view: as a scientist, as a physician, and as an observer of the disease and its many problems and challenges. I had never had the time to write a book before until I gave up my clinical and administrative responsibilities at Columbia in 2005.

How long did it take you to write it?

It took about three years of fairly intensive interviewing of patients and family members, and writing. I had been thinking about the book for a long time.

Did the book turn out differently than you originally envisioned?

I had originally thought the book would focus mainly on my scientific contributions and the clinical advances, but my interviews with patients and family members with the disease changed my perspective drastically. I became emotionally overwhelmed by the the narratives of the patients and family members I interviewed who shared their experiences with me. I never expected that to happen. It was remarkable to me to see their courage and determination in the face of a serious lifelong disease. I hope I reflect their feelings and their reality in my writing.

What do you want the average reader to take away from this book?

That depends on who the reader is. I hope that patients and family members (to whom I have dedicated the book) will learn more about the disease and the research that may eventually lead to a cure. I hope scientists and clinicians who read the book will learn more about the emotional life and trials of patients as well as the research and clinical advances. I also hope that people of all ages who are interested in science and medicine will read the book as the story of a worldwide human genetic disease written from many points of view.

Do you feel that a book such as this can be helpful to the thalassemia community?

I hope the book will make people who read it more aware of the disease and more interested in becoming involved with organizations like the CAF, which, in a sense, is the glue that holds the thalassemia community together.

“Turning Blood Red: The Fight for Life in Cooley’s Anemia” is scheduled for a late November release. Books can be pre-ordered through

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