December 3, 2017, 4 p.m. CT
The debate is as old as physical competition – are stars like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and Serena Williams genetic freaks put on Earth to dominate their respective sports? Or are they simply normal people who overcame their biological limits through sheer force of will and obsessive training?
In this controversial and engaging exploration of athletic success and the so-called 10,000-hour rule, David Epstein tackles the great nature vs. nurture debate and traces how far science has come in solving it.
Through his in-depth research, conversations with leading scientists and Olympic champions and interviews with athletes with rare genetic mutations or physical traits, Epstein will help us rethink the nature of athleticism.
He will also share how his work led him to tell the story “The DIY Scientist, the Olympian, and the Mutated Gene.” This is the story of Jill Viles, a 39-year-old Iowa mother and muscular dystrophy patient, who had a theory that she and Olympic sprinter named Priscilla Lopes-Schliep shared the same gene mutation. The mutation caused one woman’s muscles to wither, while the other developed superior physical abilities. This story has led to significant research and exploration with biotech companies offering to study Viles’ genome for scientific discovery.
David Epstein covers science, medicine, sports and frequently combines all three in the same project.
Prior to joining ProPublica, Epstein was a senior writer at “Sports Illustrated” where he co-authored the 2009 report that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez had used steroids. He is an award winning science writing author of the New York Times bestseller, “The Sports Gene.”
He was a crime reporter at the “New York Daily News” and the first reporter at “Inside Higher Ed.”