Top doc pledges proceeds from second novel to diabetes research

In “Command & Control,” the second novel by Stephen Russell, fictional retired orthopedic surgeon Mackie McKay finds himself in the middle of an infectious disease outbreak — with Ebola as a backdrop.

stephen russell2He’s already got one Amazon Top 10 Medical Thriller novel under his belt. Now, University of Alabama at Birmingham physician Stephen Russell, M.D., wants to see what he can do with his follow-up — and this time, the author’s proceeds will go to a cause close to his heart.

Russell is set to release “Command & Control” via Blue Jay Media Group Friday, Nov. 14, on World Diabetes Day. For every $3.99 download of the book from, $2 — Russell’s payment for each book sold — will go to the JDRF to fund diabetes research. The idea to give his portion of the money to the organization was driven in part by his 11-year-old daughter Molly, a Type 1 diabetic.

“Buy the book, fund the cure — that was kind of our idea for this,” says Russell, associate professor in the UAB School of MedicineDivision of General Internal Medicine and at-large board member of the JDRF. “Molly was diagnosed Oct. 14, 2007, when she was 4, and she’s been living with this disease for seven years. But the disease doesn’t define who she is. She’s very active. She has a black belt in karate. Diabetes has added an extra layer of what she needs to do to be a kid, but it hasn’t taken away her childhood. Still, any opportunity we have where we can help contribute to finding a cure, we’re all for it.”

“Command & Control” is a follow-up to this past winter’s “Blood Money,” which has garnered five-star reviews on and peaked at No. 8 on its Medical Thriller Best Seller list — quite an accomplishment for Russell’s first time out as a fiction writer.

command control“Command & Control” is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers. A book signing is scheduled 6-8 p.m. Nov. 20 at Little Professor in Homewood. Russell, who practices internal medicine and pediatrics at UAB Medicine Moody, has been repeatedly recognized as one of Birmingham’s top doctors. He used his medical expertise and insider knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry to develop the Cooper “Mackie” McKay series. A third book in the series is scheduled for a 2015 release.

“Command & Control” once again centers on McKay, a retired orthopedic surgeon who often finds himself wrapped up in issues with international implications. Russell began researching and writing this novel in 2010 with the dangerous world of infectious diseases on his mind.

“Command & Control deals with an infectious disease outbreak, and Ebola is in the backdrop, but who would have ever guessed four years ago it would be at the forefront of our consciousness as it is today,” Russell says.

In “Command & Control”, Mackie is caught in the crosshairs of a governmental cover-up in which the only clear solution seems to be silencing the whistle-blower.

Russell read the books “Hot Zone” and “The Coming Plague” as part of his research for “Command & Control,” and studied the motives of Bruce Ivins, who weaponized anthrax shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Those sources combined to give Russell the sinister storyline — what if somebody created a designer bacteria that could be used by terrorists, creating a nationwide panic?

“If we look at what has happened in real life here in recent weeks, it doesn’t take a lot of infections to stir up the panic and hysteria that follows,” Russell says. “Four people in the United States became infected with Ebola — that’s four people out of more than 300 million who live in the United States. Yet that uncertainty and fear of what could happen and the lack of knowledge about how to control it really stirred up that hysteria. That is the background for this particular book.”

“Command & Control” is available at, Barnes & Noble and other retailers. A book signing is scheduled 6-8 p.m. Nov. 20 at Little Professor in Homewood.

Visit Russell’s website and follow him on Twitter to learn more about his books.