12 episodes

Hey science nerds! Welcome to Beyond the Abstract, a science podcast dedicated to discussion of the coolest cutting edge, basic science research papers in a way that just about anyone can understand. We're your hosts, Derek and Ellen, two MD/PhD students at the University of Pennsylvania who are passionate about science communication and bridging the gap between science and medicine.

In each episode, we’ll dive into a paper and talk about the experiments these scientists did, what it means for the future of research, and even potential impacts on human health and medicine. We've invited experts in these fields to help us understand and dissect these complicated but impactful papers.

We can't wait to share all this cool science with you.

Disclaimer: This podcast is for informational purposes only and NOT intended as medical advice. The views and opinions expressed are those of the hosts and guests and do not reflect the University of Pennsylvania.

Business contact: beyondabstractpod@gmail.com

Beyond the Abstract Beyond the Abstract

    • Life Sciences
    • 5.0, 17 Ratings

Hey science nerds! Welcome to Beyond the Abstract, a science podcast dedicated to discussion of the coolest cutting edge, basic science research papers in a way that just about anyone can understand. We're your hosts, Derek and Ellen, two MD/PhD students at the University of Pennsylvania who are passionate about science communication and bridging the gap between science and medicine.

In each episode, we’ll dive into a paper and talk about the experiments these scientists did, what it means for the future of research, and even potential impacts on human health and medicine. We've invited experts in these fields to help us understand and dissect these complicated but impactful papers.

We can't wait to share all this cool science with you.

Disclaimer: This podcast is for informational purposes only and NOT intended as medical advice. The views and opinions expressed are those of the hosts and guests and do not reflect the University of Pennsylvania.

Business contact: beyondabstractpod@gmail.com

    CRISPR: All About That Base (Editing)

    CRISPR: All About That Base (Editing)

    CRISPR is a genome-editing technology that has revolutionized medical research and created new therapies for previously incurable diseases. But what is CRISPR exactly, where does it come from, and how does it work? In this episode of Beyond the Abstract, Ellen and Derek explore how scientists have created a method of using CRISPR to treat Sickle Cell Disease, a genetic disease of the blood that can be extremely painful. They also discuss how this therapy has impacted real patients beyond just the disease and talk about the importance of creating healthcare and treatments that are accessible to patients of all races and socioeconomic statuses.


    Denver et al. CRISPR/Cas9 beta-globin gene targeting in human hematopoietic stem cells. Nature, November 2016. DOI: 10.1038/nature20134 (https://dx.doi.org/10.1038%2Fnature20134) . PMID: 27820943.


    The information presented here is not medical advice. Please follow all guidelines from the CDC in regards to social distancing. Consult your physician on any questions regarding your personal health.

    • 21 min
    A (Cytokine) Storm is Brewing

    A (Cytokine) Storm is Brewing

    COVID-19 is a devastating disease, and the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions are especially at risk. But why is it that some seemingly healthy people also get so sick that they have to be put on a ventilator? The answer may lie in our immune system. This week on Beyond the Abstract, Ellen and Derek explore a new paper that begins to investigate how differences in our immune response to the coronavirus explain why some people get so sick while others do not. Amazingly, they found a key player that causes immune dysregulation and a drug to stop it. Listen as they talk about the implications of this work as well as perhaps the first signs of quarantine insanity...


    Giamarellos-Bourboulis et al. Complex immune dysregulation in COVID-19 patients with severe respiratory failure. Cell Host and Microbe, April 2020. DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2020.04.009 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2020.04.009) . PMID: 32320677.


    The information presented here is not medical advice. Please follow all guidelines from the CDC in regards to social distancing. Consult your physician on any questions regarding your personal health.

    • 24 min
    Panic at the DisCOVID

    Panic at the DisCOVID

    In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a lot remains unknown about SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19. While we race to understand the true nature of the virus and create a vaccine, our best defense against the pandemic is social distancing. Understanding how our immune systems will respond to the virus is key in answering the questions of how dangerous the virus really is, how we can create an effective vaccine, and when we can reemerge from social distancing. Does being infected once make us immune and protect us from future infections? Will this immunity be long lasting? How about immunity from a vaccine? Will we need seasonal vaccines against coronaviruses, like the flu? In this episode of Beyond the Abstract, Derek and Ellen discuss emerging research on COVID-19 immunity (from the comforts of their own homes). This study sheds some light and hope on what we can expect in terms of immunity after infection.


    Bao et al. Reinfection could not occur in SARS-CoV-2 infected rhesus macaques. bioRxiv, March 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.13.990226.


    This article is a preprint and has NOT undergone peer review. The information presented here is not medical advice. Please follow all guidelines from the CDC in regards to social distancing. Consult your physician on any questions regarding your personal health.

    • 23 min
    Bubble Lamb

    Bubble Lamb

    Extremely premature infants are those that are born at less than 28 weeks, and often weigh less than two pounds at birth. Medical advancements have pushed the limits of viability to permit survival of infants at 22-23 weeks, but these infants suffer from high rates of mortality. Those that survive are all but guaranteed chronic complications related to organ prematurity. In a bioengineering feat that can only be described as science fiction-like, scientists from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have created an artificial placenta to support extremely premature lambs with the hope of one day improving morbidity and mortality in humans that are born premature. On this episode of Beyond the Abstract, Derek and Ellen discuss what it takes to create an artificial placenta and how this creation has the potential to offer new hope for premature infants .


    Partridge et al. An extra-uterine system to physiologically support the extreme premature lamb. Nature Communications, 2017. 8:15112. PMID: 28440792.

    • 26 min
    Novel Coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV)

    Novel Coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV)

    The novel coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV) is a respiratory virus originating from Wuhan, China that has spread to many countries, causing an outbreak. Headlines on its rapid spread have dominated media and news sites globally, and a lot remains unknown about how the virus infects humans, how it spreads, and how deadly it really is. In this episode of Beyond the Abstract, Ellen and Derek tackle a paper deposited in bioRxiv on how 2019-nCoV infects human cells with similarities to the SARS coronavirus. They may answer questions you have related to the outbreak and put many commonly cited statistics into perspective. Finally, they comment on a new age of science sharing through bioRxiv, a preprint server that has allowed for quicker and cheaper dissemination of science.


    This episode was recorded on February 11th, 2020. Shortly after recording this episode, the WHO announced that the virus will be renamed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).


    Hoffman et al. The novel coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV) uses the SARS-coronavirus receptor ACE2 and the cellular protease TMPRSS2 for entry into target cells. bioRxiv, 2020. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.01.31.929042v1 (https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.01.31.929042v1)

    • 26 min
    The Golden Phage

    The Golden Phage

    Alcoholic hepatitis is a severe, life-threatening type of liver disease, but not for all patients. Some patients seem to have worse outcomes than others, but what differentiates these patients and how do we treat them? In this episode, Derek and Ellen invite Sam McCright, an MD/PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania studying the microbiome, to talk about a new paper that discovers the potential bacterial culprit behind the most severe cases of alcoholic hepatitis. Even more, these scientists have found new ways to combat these bacteria. Instead of using antibiotics, they use phages, which are like little homing missiles that can target and destroy specific bacteria and are found in sewage. The secret to treating this disease just might literally be a load of crap.


    Duan et al. Bacteriophage targeting of gut bacterium attenuates alcoholic liver disease. Nature, 2019. 575(7783):505-511. PMID: 31723265.

    • 32 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
17 Ratings

17 Ratings

1222ZH ,

Cool podcast!

Excellent podcast! Very interesting

Pudding the Corgi ,

Science rules!

Excellent podcast that takes a complex topic and makes it easy to understand. Much more enjoyable than reading a scientific paper, and pretending like I understood more than just the abstract. Derek and Ellen sound very relatable while also having a strong understanding of the topic. Definitely worth the subscription!

Plus I’ve heard Derek is a pro pastry chef.

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