Speaking of Science Podcast

Dr. Louis Staudt — The ABCs of B Cell Lymphomas

Small errors can quickly escalate to have large repercussions. When it comes to cancer, molecular changes to DNA can trigger chain reactions that cause cells to go awry and spread uncontrollably. Dr. Louis Staudt works to identify such changes, known as genetic mutations, and find ways to stop them from snowballing into a deadly disease. In this episode, Dr. Staudt recounts the story of how he differentiated subtypes of lymphomas to develop a treatment for patients as an early success of precision medicine.

Dr. Kevin Hall — Dueling Diets

Nutrition is a contentious topic. It’s hard to tell fact from fiction. One day eggs are good for you, the next they have too much fat. But what about the keto craze? Doesn’t it say you should eat mostly fats? Fortunately, there are scientist like Dr. Kevin Hall who are working to debunk the myths and give us the real skinny on how the foods we eat affect our health. Most recently, Dr. Hall published a study that put two well-known diets head-to-head to see which led people to consume more calories.

Dr. Carlos Zarate — Ketamine to Combat Depression

Ketamine is often thought of as an illicit party drug — something people take for a momentary high. But it wasn’t designed to be a mind-altering drug. Originally, ketamine was developed as anesthetic to relieve temporary pain. And now it seems the drug can provide solace not just from physical distress. At the NIH, Dr. Carlos Zarate is investigating how ketamine can rapidly reduce depressive symptoms in people with treatment-resistant depression or bipolar depression, for whom other options have not helped.

Drs. Heidi Kong and Ian Myles — Derm Germs: The Human Skin Microbiome

In nature, strategic alliances can mean the difference between life and death. For humans, such vital partnerships exist between us and the trillions of microbes we unwittingly host in and on our bodies - together called the microbiome. Dr. Heidi Kong uses genomics to uncover the microbe-host interactions taking place all over our skin. Building on her work and a growing understanding of the skin microbiome, Dr. Ian Myles has developed a bacterial spray that improves eczema, an inflammatory skin disease.

Dr. Peter Bandettini — Mr. MRI

Dr. Peter Bandettini spends a lot of time peering into people's heads. Not because he is clairvoyant, but because he is a biophysicist. Using functional MRI (fMRI), a revolutionary neuroimaging technique he helped pioneer in the '90s, Dr. Bandettini delves into the mysteries of the human brain. He is working to advance fMRI technology to parse out more information about the neural connections that are constantly and spontaneously active even when we think our minds are blank.

Dr. Hannah Valantine — At the Heart of Diversity

Time and again, diversity and inclusion initiatives have proven to boost productivity and overall well-being in the workplace. But despite countless studies and although there have been significant strides in recent history, the struggle to ensure equal opportunity persists. At the NIH, the Scientific Workforce Diversity (SWD) Office is expanding recruitment and retention with Dr. Hannah Valantine as its first chief officer. She emphasizes how proper resources, mentorship, and community are essential for progress in the biomedical field.

Drs. Richard Childs and Matthew Hall — Remdesivir Therapy for COVID-19

In this episode, Dr. Richard Childs, a senior investigator and Clinical Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), recounts his experience using the antiviral remdesivir to treat patients with COVID-19 in one of the early hot zones of the pandemic. He led a team sent to care for passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was held in quarantine in Yokohama, Japan at the start of the outbreak. Since then, remdesivir has continued to gain traction as a possible standard of care. Dr. Matthew Hall, biology group leader at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), explains the development of the drug and its newfound purpose in the battle against the novel coronavirus.

Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett — The Novel Coronavirus Vaccine

Perhaps now more than ever, it is undeniable how integral vaccines have become to public health. Vaccines protect us from a whole host of infectious diseases, including chickenpox, measles and the seasonal flu. With a new threat at hand, scientists at the NIH swiftly developed a vaccine candidate against the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The pre-clinical effort was driven in part by Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a viral immunologist and research fellow in the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Dr. Nicole Farmer — The Mental Health Benefits of Cooking

Social distancing is the best way to curtail the spread of COVID-19, but if innumerable days of isolation start to feel like they’re taking a toll on your mental welfare, there might be some solace waiting in the kitchen. According to mental health experts, cooking can reduce anxiety and alleviate mental distress. Dr. Nicole Farmer is a clinical researcher studying many facets of how diet affects human biology and behavior, including the effects of cooking interventions on mental well-being.

Dr. Frank Lin — Radioactive Drugs for Rare Cancers

Radioactive drugs carry radioactive substances that can be engineered to specifically target and kill tumor cells inside the body. In 2018, the FDA approved a radioactive drug called Lutathera to treat tumors that affect the pancreas or gastrointestinal tract. Now, scientists at the NIH led by Dr. Frank Lin are testing whether Lutathera can also be effective against rare tumors of the adrenal glands. Dr. Lin is a clinician and researcher focused on bringing radioactive drugs — also known as radionuclides — from bench to bedside. His work could accelerate the development of new therapies for patients with rare cancers who have few or no other treatment options.

This page was last updated on Friday, January 14, 2022