...and harrison ford as dr. chen

Extradorinary Measures, starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser, opens in theaters today. It's a medical drama about a desperate father who finances a cure for the rare Pompe disease that is killing his children. It doesn't look very good, but it's noteworthy as yet another movie that should've starred Asians. Or at least one Asian actor.

The movie is based on the true story chronicled in the book The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million and Bucked the Medical Establishment in a Quest to Save His Children by Geeta Anands. There is a real John Crowley who really did start a biomedical company to develop a cure for Pompe disease.

But the real guy who developed the cure was not a Dr. Robert Stonehill, nor looks anything like Indiana Jones. The real guy is a fellow named Dr. Yuan-Tsong Chen, who developed the treatment with colleagues at the Duke University Medical Center. I learned this from, of all places, Roger Ebert's movie review:
Dr. Robert Stonehill doesn't exist in real life. The Pompe cure was developed by Dr. Yuan-Tsong Chen and his colleagues while he was at Duke University. He is now director of the Institute of Biomedical Science in Taiwan. Harrison Ford, as this film's executive producer, perhaps saw Stonehill as a plum role for himself; a rewrite was necessary because he couldn't very well play Dr. Chen. The real Chen, a Taiwan University graduate, worked his way up at Duke from a residency to professor and chief of medical genetics at the Duke University Medical Center. He has been mentioned as a Nobel candidate.
Ebert also speculates that Dr. Chen might have been inspired a more interesting character than Dr. Stonehill. But I suppose Harrison Ford, who also serves as the film's executive producer, isn't the first guy that comes to mind for the role of "Taiwanese Scientist." Thus, the rewrite. Ah, what could've been.

Despite the big name stars, the movie looks like a glorified made-for-Lifetime movie... where maybe it could've starred, um, Tzi Ma or somebody as Dr. Chen.

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