To look at Jim Allison, you wouldn’t immediately think that he’s a Nobel Prize-winning immunologist. He looks more like a harmonica player, which he is, too. In fact, you can occasionally catch him onstage playing with his longtime friend, Willie Nelson. But as a new feature-length documentary reveals, Jim Allison is actually the reason why certain people with melanoma have their lives back. Narrated by Woody Harrelson, Jim Allison: Breakthrough features interviews with Allison’s family, professors, reporters, and colleagues, as well as a cancer patient who tried every kind of therapy without any success—until she tried Allison’s breakthrough drug, Ipilimumab.
Allison was born in 1948 and grew up in Texas, the son of a housewife and doctor. His two older brothers called him “diamond-head” for how hardheaded he was, referring to a trait that eventually served in Allison’s favor as a scientist. When not wandering in the woods playing his harmonica, Allison…
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