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Viral - some things are best left dead

Fiction Adventure Military/Espionage Multi-Cultural Science Fiction

Best Answer kaznats , 23 March 2017 - 07:26 PM

Dear Ms. Stark,

 

Your profile at Trident states you are seeking literary debuts for authors with character-driven thrillers and that you enjoy fiction that delves into the surreal. I hope my 125,000 word techno-thriller Viral: Into the dead zone will appeal to you. It is a fictionalized version of an actual event that occurred in 1977-1978 (http://mbio.asm.org/.../e01013-15.full) that resurrected the previously extinct H1N1 virus, causing the first known flu pandemic as the result of biological weapons research.

 

After the accidental release of a deadly flu virus, a military bioweapons collector seeks a cure for the emerging plague while racing against his Russian counterpart to retrieve a hard drive that implicates the CIA with its creation.

 

Lt. Colonel Tony Stryker is a ‘Bug Collector’ for the military, and business has never been better. Outbreaks of Ebola, Zika and Yellow Jack are all in a routine day’s work. His clandestine bioweapons program, disguised as a clinical drug trial, accidentally creates a deadly, new strain of flu. The emerging epidemic kills scores of children on a third world island that is already reeling from cholera and civil unrest. Stryker allies with the daughter of an aging shaman to avoid becoming ‘specimens’ of a Russian Biocontainment Force. He flees from his Soviet counterpart and his former lover into the sacred, subterranean ruins of the Taino in search of a cure. He must solve ancient petroglyph riddles if he is to prevent the virus' spread into a global pandemic and prevent the Russians from recovering a hard drive that implicates his country with its release.

 

Viral is an exciting blend of history, science and medicine. My style is a unique fusion that focuses on detail in a manner similar to Tom Clancy or Robin Cook. My novel combines elements of both espionage and medicine in a setting that is rich in natural history, pre-Columbian mythology and native mysticism.

 

My qualifications for writing a science-adventure genre novel include decades of research as a Molecular Biologist for a university and a major pharmaceutical firm. I authored several papers on viral vector development and one on gene cloning that was published in Nature. My academic book, Bottom Line Medicine: A layman's guide to evidence-based medicine, describes problems related to medical treatment of diseases. I worked nationwide as a traveling ICU nurse and am a former Special Forces Aidman where I learned the gritty details of field medicine.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

kaz

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#1 kaznats

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 02:03 PM

Dear Ms. Stark,

 

Your profile at Trident states you are seeking literary debuts for authors with character-driven thrillers and that you enjoy fiction that delves into the surreal. I hope my 125,000 word techno-thriller Viral: Into the dead zone will appeal to you. My novel posits this simple question: What if scientists were able to resurrect an extinct virus and it escaped the lab during testing? It may sound preposterous but my novel is a fictionalized version of an actual event that occurred in 1977-1978 (http://mbio.asm.org/content/6/4/e01013-15.full) when the previously extinct H1N1 flu virus was resurrected and then escaped during testing, creating the first known manmade pandemic as the result of viral research.

 

A Bioweapons Collector must make the hazardous journey through the sacred caverns of the “Land of Souls” to prevent a pandemic from the virus he created.

 

Lt. Colonel Tony Stryker is a ‘Bug Collector’ for the military, and business has never been better. Outbreaks of Ebola, Zika and Yellow Jack are all in a routine day’s work. His clandestine bioweapons program, disguised as a clinical drug trial, accidentally creates a deadly, new strain of flu. The emerging epidemic kills scores of children on a third world island that is already reeling from cholera and civil unrest. Stryker allies with the daughter of an aging shaman to avoid becoming ‘specimens’ of a Russian Biocontainment Force. He flees from his Soviet counterpart and his former lover into the sacred, subterranean ruins of the Taino in search of a cure. He must solve ancient petroglyph riddles if he is to prevent the virus' spread into a global pandemic and prevent the Russians from recovering a hard drive that implicates his country with its release.

 

Viral is an exciting blend of history, science and medicine. My style is a unique fusion that focuses on detail in a manner similar to Tom Clancy or Robin Cook. My novel combines elements of both espionage and medicine in a setting that is rich in natural history, pre-Columbian mythology and native mysticism.

 

My qualifications for writing a science-adventure genre novel include decades of research as a Molecular Biologist for a university and a major pharmaceutical firm. I authored several papers on viral vector development and one on gene cloning that was published in Nature. My academic book, Bottom Line Medicine: A layman's guide to evidence-based medicine, describes problems related to medical treatment of diseases. I worked nationwide as a traveling ICU nurse and am a former Special Forces Aidman where I learned the gritty details of field medicine.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

kaz



#2 kaznats

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 02:11 PM

Sorry, I am new to this site and I did read how to post a query but I am not sure if I did this properly. I wanted to add that I would gladly read others query letter in exchang efor input on my own. Thank you



#3 Testome

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 10:55 PM



Dear …,

Bioterrorists could one day kill hundreds of millions of people in an attack more deadly than nuclear war.  This isn't really a hook.  Bill Gates recently warned world leaders. His comments were ominous…one of the most potentially deadly outbreaks could involve the humble flu virus. It would be relatively easy to engineer a new flu strain combining qualities from varieties that spread like wildfire with varieties that were deadly. Would you be a victim or a survivor? Where will bioterrorists find the biological weapons they plan to use? Questions like this in queries don't really work. I'm not really hooked by this. I would try a hook that involves your mc. The italics aren't really helping anything.

 

"Viral: Some things are best left dead" addresses these very issues. A ‘Bug Collector’ working for a clandestine bioweapons program is trapped in a Hot Zone of his own making. Is this your mc? I would start with him in the hook.The clinical trial of a genetically engineered vaccine resurrects an ancient DNA sequence that mutates the flu virus. The emerging epidemic kills scores of children on a third world island that is already reeling from cholera. The Bioweapons Collector is forced into an uneasy alliance with the daughter of aging shaman to avoid becoming ‘specimens’ of a Russian Biocontainment Force. A corrupt Senator, an animal rights activist, and a reclusive former double agent These characters come out of nowhere.unite as they search for a cure amid the subterranean ruins of the Taino. They must overcome nature, heat and murderous voodoo sect This group seems random too. if they are to find a cure for this deadly new influenza. You've got too many characters introduced here. You haven't really named your mc.

 

My qualifications for writing a science-adventure genre novel include doing decades of research as a Molecular Biologist for a university and a major pharmaceutical firm. I authored several papers on viral vector development and one on gene cloning that was published in Nature. My academic book, Bottom Line Medicine: A layman's guide to evidence-based medicine, describes problems related to medical treatment of diseases. I worked nationwide as a traveling ICU nurse and once was a Special Forces Aidman. I bring the gritty details of medicine to my pages.Not helpful

 

Your agency profile indicates you are seeking adult adventure/thriller projects. VIRAL: some things are best left dead is my 135,000-word novel quite long for a thriller.that a CDC Emergency Response Team manager describes as ‘a tense, realistic read’.Not sure someone else's review is helpful I look forward to your comments.Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Thank you again,

Richard K Stanzak

You really should name drop your mc. You need these things in a query: who is the mc, what do they want, what stands in their way, what happens when they fail.    Who is the mc? The bioweapons collector or the senator, animal rights activist or the former double agent?I wasn't sure which after reading.  What do they want? I don't care enough about the second group. The biocollector wants to avoid being a specimen in a lab, but his obstacles seem missing. You have everything for the next group, but they just feel tacked on at the end. I would recommend reworking your hook to involve the inciting incident/conflict for mc and choose one group or the other. I don't think including both is working at all. I would recommend reading the queryshark archives.



#4 smithgirl

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 07:57 PM

Dear … Use a colon because this is a business letter.

 

Bioterrorists could one day kill hundreds of millions of people in an attack more deadly than nuclear war. Bill Gates recently warned world leaders. His comments were ominous…one of the most potentially deadly outbreaks could involve the humble flu virus. It would be relatively easy to engineer a new flu strain combining qualities from varieties that spread like wildfire with varieties that were deadly. Would you be a victim or a survivor? Where will bioterrorists find the biological weapons they plan to use?  This doesn't go in a query. Start with query with your story. Also, as an FYI, most agents strongly dislike questions in a  query.

 

"Viral: Some things are best left dead" addresses these very issues. A ‘Bug Collector’ Do you mean bacteria by bugs? Or do you mean bugs like bugging a room? You need to clarify. working for a clandestine bioweapons program is trapped in a hot zone of his own making. The clinical trial of a genetically engineered vaccine resurrects an ancient DNA sequence that mutates the flu virus. The emerging epidemic kills scores of children on a third world island that is already reeling from cholera. The bioweapons collector is forced into an uneasy alliance with the daughter of aging shaman to avoid becoming ‘specimens’ of a Russian Biocontainment Force. A corrupt Senator, an animal rights activist, and a reclusive former double agent unite as they search for a cure amid the subterranean ruins of the Taino. They must overcome nature, heat and murderous voodoo sect if they are to find a cure for this deadly new influenza. See comments below.

 

My qualifications for writing a science-adventure genre novel include doing decades of research as a Molecular Biologist for a university and a major pharmaceutical firm. I authored several papers on viral vector development and one on gene cloning that was published in Nature. My academic book, Bottom Line Medicine: A layman's guide to evidence-based medicine, describes problems related to medical treatment of diseases. I worked nationwide as a traveling ICU nurse and once was a Special Forces Aidman. I bring the gritty details of medicine to my pages.

 

Your agency profile indicates you are seeking adult adventure/thriller projects. VIRAL: Some Things Are Best Left Dead is my 135,000-word novel that a CDC Emergency Response Team manager describes as ‘a tense, realistic read’. I look forward to your comments.

 

Thank you again,

Richard K Stanzak Don't use your real name.

 

​Your query reads like a synopsis. You need to write it as a story from the POV of your main character. Who is that? The bug collector? What is his/her name? I don't even know if your MC is male or female. Write your query as: What does your MC need? What stands in his way? What does he need to do to overcome the obstacles? What happens if he fails? You should review and critique other queries to see how it works. Then start your query over again.

 

Start with a hook: 

 

Joe's work as a molecular virologist in a bioweapons program seems routine until something goes horribly wrong: during clinical trials a genetically engineered vaccine reactivates an ancient DNA sequences that mutates the flu virus. Suddenly, Joe must race against the clock to develop a cure before the entire human race is killed.

 

Now tell your query story in two paragraphs.

 

Now the end: 

 

VIRAL: Some Things Are Best Left Dead is a 135,000-word adult action novel. I worked as a molecular biologist for a university and a major pharmaceutical firm. I authored several papers on viral vector development and one on gene cloning that was published in Nature. My academic book, Bottom Line Medicine: A layman's guide to evidence-based medicine, describes problems related to medical treatment of diseases. I worked nationwide as a traveling ICU nurse and once was a Special Forces Aidman. Another FYI: Agents are nervous about debut novels over 100,000 words, so be prepared to face some resistance on that front.

 

​Query writing is hard, hard, hard. It is different from writing scientific manuscripts also writing novels. It is a pitch; it needs to be exciting. I have also worked as molecular biologist and also with replication-competent virus, so I am familiar with the kind of work you do.

 

​Could you please look at my query when you can? http://agentquerycon...rade-critiques/

 

 

 

 

 

 



#5 smithgirl

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 08:00 PM

Yes, you posted correctly. :-)

 

If you post revisions, you should update your thread to indicate which post includes the updated query.

 

 

Sorry, I am new to this site and I did read how to post a query but I am not sure if I did this properly. I wanted to add that I would gladly read others query letter in exchang efor input on my own. Thank you



#6 kaznats

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 04:36 PM

okay here is my revised query with a few of the suggestions added:

 

A military bioweapons collector engages in a deadly game of ‘cat and mouse’ with his Russian counterpart who is also his former lover. The mysterious, subterranean world of the Taino Indians hides the only cure for the outbreak of an emerging virus. He has only hours amid growing civil unrest to find the cure before the virus destroys the tropical ‘paradise’ and releases a global pandemic.

 

Dear Ms. Stark,

 

Your profile at Trident states you are seeking literary debuts for authors with character-driven thrillers and that you enjoy fiction that delves into the surreal. My 90,000 word techno-thriller Viral: into the dead zone, summarized above, is an exciting blend of history, science, and medicine. My style is a unique fusion that focuses on detail in a manner similar to Tom Clancy or Robin Cook. It combines elements of both espionage and medicine in a setting that is rich in natural history.

 

 

Lt. Colonel Tony Stryker is a ‘Bug Collector’ for the military and business has never been better. Outbreaks of Ebola, Zika and Yellow Jack are all a routine day’s work. But, a clandestine bioweapons program disguised as a clinical drug trial results in the emergence of a deadly, new flu virus. The epidemic kills scores of children on a third world island that is already reeling from cholera and civil unrest. Stryker is forced into an uneasy alliance with the daughter of an aging shaman to avoid becoming ‘specimens’ of a Russian Biocontainment Force. Together, they engage his Russian counterpart and former lover in a deadly game of ‘cat and mouse’ as they seek a cure for the plague America created. Their escape leads them into the dark, sacred caverns of the Taino Indians where they are forced to explore the subterranean world and its bloody history.

 

My qualifications for writing a science-adventure genre novel include doing decades of research as a Molecular Biologist for a university and a major pharmaceutical firm. I authored several papers on viral vector development and one on gene cloning that was published in Nature. My academic book, Bottom Line Medicine: A layman's guide to evidence-based medicine, describes problems related to medical treatment of diseases. I worked nationwide as a traveling ICU nurse and once was a Special Forces Aidman where I learned the gritty details of field medicine.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

Kaz



#7 smithgirl

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 10:08 AM


A military bioweapons collector engages in a deadly game of ‘cat and mouse’ with his Russian counterpart who is also his former lover. The mysterious, subterranean world of the Taino Indians hides the only cure for the outbreak of an emerging virus. He has only hours amid growing civil unrest to find the cure before the virus destroys the tropical ‘paradise’ and releases a global pandemic. Not sure what this top paragraph is for. This isn't something you would include with a query. A synopsis would be longer, and it's a play-by-play of the story. This is nice; it's like a book blurb, but not sure what role it would play in your submission process.

 

Dear Ms. Stark,

 

Your profile at Trident states you are seeking literary debuts for authors with character-driven thrillers and that you enjoy fiction that delves into the surreal. I hope my 90,000-word techno-thriller Viral: into the dead zone will appeal to you. summarized above, Ah! Now I see what the thing above was for. But you have to include all relevant information in your query. If they request a synopsis, you can include that, also.is an exciting blend of history, science, and medicine. My style is a unique fusion that focuses on detail in a manner similar to Tom Clancy or Robin Cook. It combines elements of both espionage and medicine in a setting that is rich in natural history. Move all the purple stuff to the end of your query.

 

I would rewrite your summary to make it the hook for your novel and insert here. From the rest of the query, Also, your intro said your book has a surreal aspect, but I don't see that from the query.

 

Lt. Colonel Tony Stryker is a ‘Bug Collector’ for the military and business has never been better. Outbreaks of Ebola, Zika and Yellow Jack are all a routine day’s work. But, a clandestine bioweapons program disguised as a clinical drug trial results in the emergence of a deadly, new flu virus. The epidemic kills scores of children on a third world island that is already reeling from cholera and civil unrest. Stryker is forced into an uneasy alliance with the daughter of an aging shaman to avoid becoming ‘specimens’ of a Russian Biocontainment Force. Together, they engage his Russian counterpart and former lover in a deadly game of ‘cat and mouse’ as they seek a cure for the plague America created. Their escape leads them into the dark, sacred caverns of the Taino Indians where they are forced to explore the subterranean world and its bloody history. This is better, more like a story, but still too vague still not enough from the POV of your MC. The entire query should be written from the POV of you MC so we are drawn into his story, his fears and concerns. We need to identify with him.

 

My qualifications for writing a science-adventure genre novel include doing decades of research as a Molecular Biologist for a university and a major pharmaceutical firm. I authored several papers on viral vector development and one on gene cloning that was published in Nature. My academic book, Bottom Line Medicine: A layman's guide to evidence-based medicine, describes problems related to medical treatment of diseases. I worked nationwide as a traveling ICU nurse and once was a Special Forces Aidman where I learned the gritty details of field medicine. If you combine this last paragraph with the remaining in from the first paragraph, it becomes very long. You should to condense this part and expand the pitch component of your query.

 

You should also provide feedback on other people's queries. Good luck!

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

Kaz



#8 kaznats

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 11:56 AM

I was told to put a logline here as this is what most agents use to determine if they will actually read the rest of the query. Let me know if this should be moved or deleted:

 

A military bioweapons collector engages in a game of ‘cat and mouse’ with his Russian counterpart who is also his former lover. The mysterious, subterranean world of the Taino Indians hides the only cure for the outbreak of an emerging virus. He has only hours amid growing civil unrest to find the cure before the virus destroys the tropical ‘paradise’ and releases a global pandemic.

 

Dear Ms. Stark,

 

Your profile at Trident states you are seeking literary debuts for authors with character-driven thrillers and that you enjoy fiction that delves into the surreal. I hope my 90,000 word techno-thriller Viral: into the dead zone will appeal to you.

 

Lt. Colonel Tony Stryker is a ‘Bug Collector’ for the military and business has never been better. Outbreaks of Ebola, Zika and Yellow Jack are all a routine day’s work. His clandestine bioweapons program disguised as a clinical drug trial results in the emergence of a deadly, new flu virus. The epidemic his study causes kills scores of children on a third world island that is already reeling from cholera and civil unrest. Stryker is forced into an uneasy alliance with the daughter of an aging shaman to avoid becoming ‘specimens’ of a Russian Biocontainment Force. Together, they engage his Russian counterpart and former lover in a deadly game of ‘cat and mouse’ as they seek a cure for the plague America created. Their escape leads them into the dark, sacred caverns of the Taino Indians where they are forced to explore the subterranean world and its bloody history. Viral is an exciting blend of history, science, and medicine. My style is a unique fusion that focuses on detail in a manner similar to Tom Clancy or Robin Cook. It combines elements of both espionage and medicine in a setting that is rich in natural history, pre-Columbian mythology and native mysticism.

 

My qualifications for writing a science-adventure genre novel include doing decades of research as a Molecular Biologist for a university and a major pharmaceutical firm. I authored several papers on viral vector development and one on gene cloning that was published in Nature. My academic book, Bottom Line Medicine: A layman's guide to evidence-based medicine, describes problems related to medical treatment of diseases. I worked nationwide as a traveling ICU nurse and once was a Special Forces Aidman where I learned the gritty details of field medicine.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

kaz

 

I am more than willing to provide feed back to others and look forward to any comments that help my own query. Good luck to all writers, we have a saying in science: Skill is good but luck is better!



#9 smithgirl

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 12:28 PM

The logline, or maybe you mean the hook, is the first paragraph of your query. It is not outside of the query.



#10 kaznats

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 02:50 PM

I sure hope this is right, as you can tell I am new at writing queries and am trying to get it right with the kind help of those here:

 

 

Dear Ms. Stark,

 

Your profile at Trident states you are seeking literary debuts for authors with character-driven thrillers and that you enjoy fiction that delves into the surreal. I hope my 90,000 word techno-thriller Viral: into the dead zone will appeal to you.

 

A military bioweapons collector is forced to engage in a game of ‘cat and mouse’ with his Russian counterpart as he seeks a cure for the epidemic he inadvertently created.

 

Lt. Colonel Tony Stryker is a ‘Bug Collector’ for the military and business has never been better. Outbreaks of Ebola, Zika and Yellow Jack are all a routine day’s work. His clandestine bioweapons program, disguised as a clinical drug trial, accidentally creates a deadly, new strain of flu. The emerging epidemic kills scores of children on a third world island that is already reeling from cholera and civil unrest. Stryker is forced into an uneasy alliance with the daughter of an aging shaman to avoid becoming ‘specimens’ of a Russian Biocontainment Force. He plays a deadly game of ‘cat and mouse’ with his Russian counterpart and former lover as he seeks a cure amid the sacred, subterranean ruins of the Taino. His small team explores the island's turbulent and bloody history in their quest to prevent a global pandemic. Viral is an exciting blend of history, science, and medicine. My style is a unique fusion that focuses on detail in a manner similar to Tom Clancy or Robin Cook. It combines elements of both espionage and medicine in a setting that is rich in natural history, pre-Columbian mythology and native mysticism.

 

My qualifications for writing a science-adventure genre novel include doing decades of research as a Molecular Biologist for a university and a major pharmaceutical firm. I authored several papers on viral vector development and one on gene cloning that was published in Nature. My academic book, Bottom Line Medicine: A layman's guide to evidence-based medicine, describes problems related to medical treatment of diseases. I worked nationwide as a traveling ICU nurse and once was a Special Forces Aidman where I learned the gritty details of field medicine.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

kaz



#11 SylvanStyle

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 03:14 PM

I actually love your query. It makes me want to read your book for sure!

 

I have 2 suggestions, both revolving around your use of the "cat & mouse" cliché. 1) it is repetitive since you used it both in your hook and in your description. 2) I would probably try to avoid using that verbiage. For me, as a reader, it adds a "corn" factor to the otherwise intriguing premise.


Thanks!

Sylvia Davis

Website- WritersHell.net

Twitter- @sedavis2014


#12 kaznats

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 07:26 PM   Best Answer

Dear Ms. Stark,

 

Your profile at Trident states you are seeking literary debuts for authors with character-driven thrillers and that you enjoy fiction that delves into the surreal. I hope my 125,000 word techno-thriller Viral: Into the dead zone will appeal to you. It is a fictionalized version of an actual event that occurred in 1977-1978 (http://mbio.asm.org/.../e01013-15.full) that resurrected the previously extinct H1N1 virus, causing the first known flu pandemic as the result of biological weapons research.

 

After the accidental release of a deadly flu virus, a military bioweapons collector seeks a cure for the emerging plague while racing against his Russian counterpart to retrieve a hard drive that implicates the CIA with its creation.

 

Lt. Colonel Tony Stryker is a ‘Bug Collector’ for the military, and business has never been better. Outbreaks of Ebola, Zika and Yellow Jack are all in a routine day’s work. His clandestine bioweapons program, disguised as a clinical drug trial, accidentally creates a deadly, new strain of flu. The emerging epidemic kills scores of children on a third world island that is already reeling from cholera and civil unrest. Stryker allies with the daughter of an aging shaman to avoid becoming ‘specimens’ of a Russian Biocontainment Force. He flees from his Soviet counterpart and his former lover into the sacred, subterranean ruins of the Taino in search of a cure. He must solve ancient petroglyph riddles if he is to prevent the virus' spread into a global pandemic and prevent the Russians from recovering a hard drive that implicates his country with its release.

 

Viral is an exciting blend of history, science and medicine. My style is a unique fusion that focuses on detail in a manner similar to Tom Clancy or Robin Cook. My novel combines elements of both espionage and medicine in a setting that is rich in natural history, pre-Columbian mythology and native mysticism.

 

My qualifications for writing a science-adventure genre novel include decades of research as a Molecular Biologist for a university and a major pharmaceutical firm. I authored several papers on viral vector development and one on gene cloning that was published in Nature. My academic book, Bottom Line Medicine: A layman's guide to evidence-based medicine, describes problems related to medical treatment of diseases. I worked nationwide as a traveling ICU nurse and am a former Special Forces Aidman where I learned the gritty details of field medicine.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

kaz







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