Speaking of Science Podcast

Drs. Natasha Caplen and Richard Maraia — What's Next in the RNAge?

The success of mRNA vaccines against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, has brought RNA biology into the limelight. Now, with the world's attention, what's next for this biomedical rising star? NIH scientists, Dr. Richard Maraia and Dr. Natasha Caplen, have long recognized the potential of RNA in improving human health. In this episode, they discuss the prospects of RNA biology and how their work could inform the future of RNA as an innovative class of medicine.

Dr. Anna Nápoles — A New Dawn for Minority Health

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, racial and ethnic minority groups were disproportionately hit. Those health inequities pulled at the seams of a system that was already frayed. Dr. Anna Nápoles works to close gaps in healthcare as the first Latina scientific director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). She is reducing the types of hurdles that once hindered her parents so that all populations can live long, healthy, and productive lives.

Dr. Diana Bianchi — Caring for Two: The Mom-Baby Unit

Pregnancy is by no means necessary for motherhood, but it is necessary for life. And it's no picnic. A pregnant person can experience complications like anemia, UTIs, hypertension, diabetes, and exhaustion. Maintaining maternal health during pregnancy can be challenging, but it is integral for the health of the fetus. Dr. Diana Bianchi is a physician-scientist and the director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), where she works to improve care for the mommy-baby unit.

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.

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