Women Make Movies, Inc.

To support a four-part documentary series about COVID-19 in the context of the 200-year history of public health, to air on PBS

  • Amount $1,000,000
  • City New York, NY
  • Investigator Barbara Ghammashi
  • Year 2020
  • Program Public Understanding
  • Sub-program Television

This grant provides funding for bestselling author Steven Johnson and historian David Olusoga, working with Nutopia, an award-winning TV production company, to produce and broadcast Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer, a four-part television series that will examine the COVID-19 pandemic in light of the past 300-year history of public health. Scheduled to air on PBS in the spring of 2021, each episode will juxtapose COVID-19 with one aspect of medicine and public health that has played a central role in increasing life expectancy over the past 100 years. Episode one explores our growing ability to prevent the spread of illness through the use of variolation and vaccination. Episode two explores the role of analyzing and mapping data—the science of epidemiology—in improving societal health outcomes. Episode three focuses on the surprisingly recent invention of penicillin and other medicines that combat illness directly. The final episode looks at the scientific and regulatory innovations that promote public safety and healthy behaviors.

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