I could not help thinking about my friend Caroline Dopyera when I was working on this story. She died in 1997 from ovarian cancer, not long after this picture was taken. She was an energetic science writer who came to The News & Observer on a AAAS fellowship and stayed on. This picture was taken when we met up in Malaysia. She had been in Indonesia reporting on orangutans and I was in Phnom Penh on year-long stint working for the recently shuttered Cambodia Daily. We met for a few days on Tioman Island. She was diagnosed soon after returning to the states. I still miss her. She would have loved to write this story.
Professor Angela Belcher earned a MacArthur genius grant by engineering a harmless virus to form tiny wires — an insight that could lead to cheap and biodegradable batteries and solar cells. Now she’s using the same virus to perform a different trick and solve a very different problem: the grim prognosis for women with ovarian cancer.