Delaware Senator and Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden’s record on medical transparency seems to be somewhat similar to McCain’s insofar as he has released some troubling information and a complete, up-to-date picture is still missing. According the Altman’s article, “[He] had emergency surgery in 1988 for an aneurysm in an artery in his brain and elective surgery for a second one. His campaign released 49 pages of medical records to The New York Times late last week showing that he was healthy, but the documents did not indicate whether he had had a test in recent years to detect any new aneurysm.”

The first aneurysms kept Biden away from the Senate for seven months, according to Altman: “Now, a question arises: Has Mr. Biden developed a new aneurysm over the last two decades that could burst?” While Altman reports that Biden’s type of aneurysm was once thought to be a “once-in-a-lifetime event,” doctors now think it can recur. Although the likelihood of recurrence might still be low, Altman wrote:

Four leading neurosurgeons interviewed separately in this country and Europe said that as a vice-presidential nominee, Mr. Biden should have had recent brain imaging studies to detect any new aneurysm, because if one is found he might face more neurosurgery and be out of work for weeks or longer.

At any rate, the lack of transparency among all four candidates for the nation’s two highest offices is disturbing. Thankfully, Altman was undeterred and, perhaps coincidentally , his story was cast into even higher relief by one that appeared next to it on the Times’s front page. It was by Amy Harmon, who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting for her stories about the privacy dilemmas surrounding DNA testing. Her story today focuses on the first ten volunteers in the “Personal Genome Project, a study at Harvard University Medical School aimed at challenging the conventional wisdom that the secrets of our genes are best kept to ourselves.”

Alas, our candidates are not so bold.


Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.