The book Saving Babies has an enemy


Question: who is the enemy?

Answer: Piero Rinaldo, MD, PhD, a geneticist affiliated with the Mayo Clinic.


Question: Really, what did he say about the book?

Answer: In an e-mail message to another geneticist, he wrote: You [the geneticist to whom he is writing] "have unleashed that poor bastard sociologist and his pathetic book. It would have been wise on your part to advise him to refrain from writing certain things about me and others. The Navajos wisely say “do not force your enemies to seek revenge”."


Question: Wow, he cites a Navajo saying. Is he Native American?

Answer: That would indeed be interesting, a geneticist at the Mayo Clinic who is a Native American. Especially considering the often difficult relationship between genetic science and First Nation People. No, word on the street is that he is Italian.


Question: Is the saying actually truly from the Navajo?

Answer: Not according to Google. It does not seem to exist as a saying. 


Question: He uses the term "bastard." Did it draw your attention when a geneticist calls you a bastard?

Answer: It sure did. Maybe he knows something I don't know. It's kind of a delicate topic to raise with one's parents but all evidence suggests that I am a legitimate son.


Question: So, maybe he uses bastard in a different sense?

Answer: I guess so.


Question: Why is he upset?

Answer: Difficult to know, but in the book we discussed the work of a committee of the American College of Medical Genetics that led to the expansion of the newborn screening program from a handful to 54 conditions. This expansion proved to be deeply controversial and we reported on the position of its advocates and opponents. Dr. Rinaldo was one of the leaders of this committee (although we do not name him). He also did not like our article introducing the concept of patients-in-waiting and co-authored a critical letter to the journal.