8 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

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

    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
    The Cancer Conundrum

    The Cancer Conundrum

    One in eight women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, but how exactly breast cancer metastasizes and spreads to other organs still isn't clear. E-cadherin is a protein that acts as 'molecular glue' that helps cancer cells stick together, but controversy exists within the cancer field about its exact role in cancer spread. This week on Beyond the Abstract, Derek and Ellen take on a paper that lays to rest the role of E-cadherin in breast cancer metastasis. Listen in as they talk about this important paper that definitively addresses this issue once and for all.


    Padmanaban et al. E-cadherin is required for metastasis in multiple models of breast cancer. Nature, 2019. 573(7774):439-444. PMID: 31485072.

    • 23 min
    Achy Breaky Cytoskeleton

    Achy Breaky Cytoskeleton

    Your heart beats over 100,000 times a day and over 2 billion times a lifetime. The heart keeps up with wear and tear because it has a strong yet flexible cytoskeleton, the 'framework' of the cell. But what happens when the cytoskeleton malfunctions, and more importantly, how do we fix it? On this episode of Beyond the Abstract, Derek and Ellen chat with cell biologist and PhD candidate Brittany MacTaggart about alterations that happen to the cytoskeleton during heart failure and how these changes affect how the heart functions.


    Chen et al. Suppression of detyrosinated microtubules improves cardiomyocyte function in human heart failure. Nature Medicine, 2018. 24(8); 1225-1233. PMID: 29892068.

    • 29 min
    The Clot Thickens

    The Clot Thickens

    Deep vein thromboses (DVTs) are clots in the blood system that can travel from the legs to the lungs, causing severe damage and even death. This week on Beyond the Abstract, Ellen and Derek are joined by John Welsh, PhD as they dive into John's recent paper on how DVTs are formed. To our surprise, Dr. Welsh discusses how current measures in the hospital to prevent DVTs may not work as well as we think they do. Finally, we talk about Dr. Welsh's company, which is currently building a device that would better solve this problem.


    Welsh et al. Hemodynamic regulation of perivalvular endothelial gene expression prevents deep vein thrombosis. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2019. 129(12). PMID: 31710307.

    • 38 min
    (Cilia) Size Matters

    (Cilia) Size Matters

    On this episode of Beyond the Abstract, Derek and Ellen invite Lindsey Avery Fitzsimons, a PhD student at the University of Maine, to discuss new research in the intersecting worlds of heart valve disease and cell biology. A new paper combining mouse genetics and human genome sequencing data uncovers a new role for primary cilia, which are small 'sensors' on cells, in causing mitral valve prolapse. This exemplary study demonstrates the importance of collaboration between physicians and scientists and how basic science can bring about answers to clinical questions.


    You can find Lindsey on Instagram @laf_in_the_lab


    Toomer et al. Primary cilia defects causing mitral valve prolapse. Science Translational Medicine, 2019. 11(493). PMID: 31118289.

    • 34 min

Customer Reviews

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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