#51: Are We Talking About CRISPR All Wrong? Also, What The Hell Is CRISPR?

In Episode 51, Quinn & Brian ask: Are we thinking about CRISPR all wrong (and what the hell is CRISPR)?

Our guest is C. Brandon Ogbunu, an evolutionary systems biologist working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown University. Although the title is different, his role is almost identical to Brian’s here at INI: He uses experimental evolution, mathematical modeling, and computational biology to better understand the underlying causes and consequences of disease, across scales: from the biophysics of proteins involved in drug resistance to the social determinants underlying disease. In doing so, he aims to develop theory that enriches our understanding of the evolutionary and ecological underpinnings of disease, while contributing to practical solutions for clinical medicine and public health.

So, like Brian, it’s pretty apparent why C. Brandon is vital to the survival of our species. (The similarities are just uncanny, aren’t they?)

We’ve talked about CRISPR before on the show, but if you’re not familiar, here’s a brief and overly simplistic overview of this potentially world-changing technology: it’s scissors for DNA. It’s still a very young technology – it was only patented in 2012 – but it has the potential to do everything from eliminating genetic diseases from our lineage, to making our food supply more efficient and productive, to creating a real-life Jurassic Park. But what can’t we do with it – and perhaps more importantly, what shouldn’t we be doing with it? That’s what we’re going to find out today.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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Important, Not Important is produced by Podcast Masters

#48: Why Does Childhood Cancer Exist & What Can We Do to Make It Go Away Forever?

In Episode 48, Quinn & Brian ask: Why the hell does childhood cancer exist, isn't the world effed up enough as it is, and what can we do to make it go away forever?

Our guest is one of our favorite humans, Jay Scott, Co-Executive Director of the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Jay runs the organization with his wife, Liz, in honor of their daughter Alex, who was diagnosed with cancer just two days before her first birthday. She set up a lemonade stand in their yard to help support her doctors and, before she died, she managed to raise more than $1 million.

Since then, Alex’s Lemonade Stand has raised over $150 million and funded nearly 1,000 medical research grants for more than 135 institutions across the U.S. and Canada, and they’re not slowing down for a second. This is an awesome, inspiring, and necessary conversation, but be warned: our keyboards are covered in salty man tears and your phone may get wet as well.

Listen to the episode here, or read the show notes here.

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Important, Not Important is produced by Podcast Masters

#47: The Future of Digital Health, Part II

In Episode 47, Quinn goes solo for a minute to discuss: America’s data and the future of digital health.

Quinn sits down for a one-on-one chat with Dave Gershgorn, the lead artificial intelligence reporter at Quartz (AKA qz.com), to figure out why our data is different, how the future we were promised is both here and pretty damn far away, and whether/why data is too white.

The worlds of healthcare and artificial intelligence are looking – big surprise – really biased right now, but with some effort, we can get to the colorful and diverse future of digital health we talked about with Dr. Indra Joshi and Maxine Mackintosh back in episode 43. Today, Dave provides some journalist-approved action steps that will help us get a little more informed on the subject so that we can all help make that future our reality.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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Important, Not Important is produced by Podcast Masters

#41: Outsmarting Cholera

In Episode 41, Quinn & Brian discuss: Outsmarting cholera.

Cholera is still around in many parts of the world, and not a lot has changed. That is to say, it’s still shitty and deadly. However, there is hope when it comes to treatment, and that hope is our guest Dr. Minmin Yen! Dr. Yen is the CEO and co-founder of medical startup PhagePro, where she and her team are developing bacteriophages, or viruses specifically designed to kill bacteria and prevent bacterial infections.

So why is this even necessary? Why can’t we just give people with cholera a pil? Well, antibiotics are fighting a losing battle against increasingly resistant bacteria and the 3-5 MILLION people who contract cholera every year need some help. The silver lining, luckily, is that the help they have is a heck of a lot smarter than us.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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Important, Not Important is produced by Podcast Masters

 
 

#19: What’s the future of antibiotics?

In Episode 19, Quinn & Brian ask: What’s the future of antibiotics?

To answer: the irrepressible Dr. Gautam Dantas, the professor of pathology and immunology and biomedical engineering at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis. He leads the Dantas Lab, where they work at the interface of microbial genomics, ecology, synthetic biology, and systems biology, to understand, harness, and engineer the biochemical processing potential of microbial communities.

We have a lovely, not terrifying chat about designing new antibiotics in the post-antibiotic area. Topics covered include bacteria as the O.G., Thanos, precision medicine, cows, horror shows from the ancient past buried in ice cores, and your vote and where it should go. 

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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