48 episodes

Hear from the leading experts in bioinformatics and other closely related fields. Topics discussed include computational biology, biotechnology, computer science, genetics, synthetic biology, math, statistics, and more. You can also find discussions on topics related to the scientific career field. For example, exploring career path options in science, or highlighting important skill sets such as writing and public speaking.

The Bioinformatics and Beyond Podcast Leo Elworth

    • Technology
    • 5.0 • 10 Ratings

Hear from the leading experts in bioinformatics and other closely related fields. Topics discussed include computational biology, biotechnology, computer science, genetics, synthetic biology, math, statistics, and more. You can also find discussions on topics related to the scientific career field. For example, exploring career path options in science, or highlighting important skill sets such as writing and public speaking.

    Dr. Justin Siegel: Enzyme Design, Large-scale Mutant Generation, and Cloud Labs

    Dr. Justin Siegel: Enzyme Design, Large-scale Mutant Generation, and Cloud Labs

    Dr. Justin Siegel begins this episode by explaining what enzymes are, how they have evolved, and why Dr. Siegel is motivated to try to engineer enzymes to perform functions tailored to help humanity instead of to perform functions based on how they evolved in nature. He explains the primary goal of the work discussed and relating enzyme sequence to function. Dr. Siegel also explains how his work was the first of its kind by scaling up enzyme design to hundreds of mutants instead of dozens. 

    We then dig into the details of Dr. Siegel’s work. We learn details of his study such as why his team chose to study the particular enzyme that was used to create a massive set of enzyme mutants. We hear the previous difficulty of doing a study like this on only one enzyme and what enabled this increase in the scale of enzyme design. We also hear about how the use of cloud labs was introduced into the project and why. 

    Next, we hear all about the cloud lab aspect of this project. Dr. Siegel explains which parts of the enzyme mutant creation process were most challenging and benefited most to be moved to cloud labs. 

    Finally, we learn about how machine learning was then applied to the large set of generated enzyme mutants. Dr. Siegel explains how the generated data allowed his team to test previous hypotheses about mutant enzymes and to start trying to predict the functions of enzymes from sequence. Dr. Siegel also comments on a finding of the paper that for highly conserved residues, if you change them, you lose the function. 

    Learn more about Dr. Siegel’s work by reading the corresponding publication which you can find here: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0147596

    • 22 min
    Dr. Justin Siegel: Lab Automation, Cloud Labs, and the Future of the Wet Lab

    Dr. Justin Siegel: Lab Automation, Cloud Labs, and the Future of the Wet Lab

    Dr. Justin Siegel explains the past, present, and future of wet lab work and wet lab automation. We start by hearing a description of what it is like to work in a wet lab, covering the contrast between the excitement of seeing life changing results and the countless hours of monotony that is often involved to produce these results. 

    We then begin discussing where automation will fit in to help alleviate the burden of long term monotonous work in the wet lab. We learn about the challenges of implementing automation in a lab, and hear about the dream that exists from the promise of automation versus the reality of implementing automation in an actual academic lab or in industry. We also hear Dr. Siegel’s take on the current state of implementing automation in an actual lab right now. We hear about the intricacies of implementing automation, such as discussing the pros and cons of different types of brands of robots, hearing about how lab robots can end up sitting unutilized or underutilized in academic labs, and considering practical questions that are involved when implementing automation. We end our discussion of robots that could be purchased with a discussion on Opentrons.  

    Finally, we discuss cloud labs. Dr. Siegel starts by explaining what cloud labs are. Then, we hear about how a scientist would actually go about utilizing a cloud lab service. Dr. Siegel shares his thoughts on the potential promise of cloud labs and gives justification for the excitement surrounding this new approach. Dr. Siegel also shares his personal experience using cloud labs and how things like the accuracy and reliability of cloud labs can already make it a viable option for automating academic lab tasks. He also explains an unintended benefit of using cloud labs in that it allows researchers to spend more time thinking critically about the tasks that need to be done and how they will be done.

    • 33 min
    Dr. Afshin Beheshti: MicroRNAs and COVID-19

    Dr. Afshin Beheshti: MicroRNAs and COVID-19

    Dr. Afshin Beheshti begins this episode by explaining what microRNAs are and why they are emerging as an important area of biological research. He then explains how microRNAs relate to viruses, which is a recently developing area of research in this already young field of study. Dr. Beheshti then tells the story of how he started to discover that microRNAs could be a driver of COVID-19 infections. 

    His story begins by using microRNA analysis tools to analyze COVID-19 infected patients from China which predicted a handful of microRNAs that could be involved in COVID-19 infection. He discusses how his team decided to focus on microRNA 2392 and how he continued to dig further into how it could be connected to COVID-19. His story then weaves through tales of successful collaborations with a large team of scientists that led to studying RNA samples from deceased COVID-19 patients, testing expressing the microRNA in healthy cells, analyzing multiple organs in COVID-19 infections, and testing a delivery system for a microRNA antagonist as a potential novel therapeutic.

    We conclude with a quick discussion of the connection between microRNAs and space biology and space omics research.

    Learn more about this work by checking out Dr. Beheshti's preprint on these topics: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.04.23.441024v4.abstract

    • 29 min
    Dr. Afshin Beheshti: The Hazards and Molecular Features of Spaceflight

    Dr. Afshin Beheshti: The Hazards and Molecular Features of Spaceflight

    This episode concludes the podcast’s series of episodes focused on space biology and space omics. NASA scientist Dr. Afshin Beheshti discusses the many high level hazards and corresponding molecular features of spaceflight throughout this episode. For instance, we begin with a discussion of the hazards of radiation and microgravity. Dr. Beheshti spends time explaining a high level view of what each hazard is, why it is a concern for spaceflight, and educates us on many useful and interesting pieces of information for each hazard. Further hazards discussed include confinement and isolation, hostile and closed environment, and distance from Earth.

    After learning about all the high level hazards of extended living in space, we learn about how these hazards cause issues to human health through a series of lower level biological features. Dr. Beheshti again explains what these fundamental molecular features are, what techniques we have to study them, and ways we could overcome these problematic processes. These problematic molecular features include oxidative stress, DNA damage, mitochondrial damage, epigenetic and gene regulation changes, telomere-length dynamics, and microbiome shifts. 

    We end by discussing how we can simulate and study the negative effects of space here on Earth and the future of spaceflight biology research. Dr. Beheshti explain how studies like "bed studies" and mountain climber studies can help simulate impacts on human health in space. Finally, I ask Dr. Beheshti for his view of the future. He explains NASA's surveys that can guide research and how omics research was identified as a future focus. We conclude with a discussion on the plan for Mars exploration and habitation.

    For additional reading on this topic, check out Dr. Beheshti's recent Cell review: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867420314574

    • 48 min
    Dr. Tejaswini Mishra: Wearables Detect Pre-symptomatic COVID-19

    Dr. Tejaswini Mishra: Wearables Detect Pre-symptomatic COVID-19

    This episode discusses Dr. Tejaswini Mishra’s recent publication in Nature Biomedical Engineering: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41551-020-00640-6 Dr. Mishra begins the episode by explaining the origin story of this work and how the idea for this paper came to be. She then explains how this study enrolled thousands of participants and used the participants’ smartwatch or wearable device data to detect COVID-19 infections. 
    After explaining how this study began, Dr. Mishra discusses how she and her team came up with two main algorithms for detecting COVID-19 infections from wearables data. Dr. Mishra also discusses the many variables that could be monitored with wearables in addition to standard measures used for predicting illnesses like heart rate. 
    Finally, we hear about the main results of this study including the successful detection of several active COVID-19 infections in study participants. We also hear a comparison of this work against the COVID-19 wearables study featured previously on the podcast. We end by hearing Dr. Mishra’s thoughts on the future of wearables for detecting infectious diseases and for improving human health in general. 

    • 28 min
    Dr. Tejaswini Mishra: The NASA Twins Study

    Dr. Tejaswini Mishra: The NASA Twins Study

    This episode continues our series of episodes on space biology and #SpaceOmics with Dr. Tejaswini Mishra. Dr. Mishra introduces The NASA Twins Study, a cornerstone scientific work where two twin astronauts were monitored, with one twin traveling to space, and one staying on earth. Dr. Mishra explains the importance of studying long term spaceflight missions, how The NASA Twins Study was set up in a particularly great way to study spaceflight impact, the many different types of data collected and analyzed, and some of the results found by the study.

    During the episode, Dr. Mishra explains many of the types of data collected such as microbiome and telomere data. After covering the types of data, we explore some of the main results such as the first ever test of a vaccination in space. Dr. Mishra then explains more in depth on changes seen during spaceflight such as telomere length, gene expression, DNA damage, cognitive function, and more. We discuss how concerning the various changes that occur in space could be for astronauts, such as becoming hypoxic. Dr. Mishra also explains pointers to the kinds of things we should focus on when we go deeper into space for understanding the impact on the human body. Finally, we summarize the main messages of the paper and hear Dr. Mishra’s thoughts on the future of space research. 

    The NASA Twins Study can be found at: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/364/6436/eaau8650

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
10 Ratings

10 Ratings

ChemCastle ,

It’s great!

The pod is easy to listen too and has interesting topics.

Top Podcasts In Technology

Lex Fridman
Jason Calacanis
NPR
Jack Rhysider
Gregg Phillips
The Verge

You Might Also Like

The Bioinformatics CRO
Dan Gusfield
Sean Carroll | Wondery
Pushkin Industries
Springer Nature Limited
Roman Mars