92 episodes

This podcast might not actually kill you, but it covers so many things that can. Each episode tackles a different disease, from its history, to its biology, and finally, how scared you need to be. Ecologists and epidemiologists Erin Welsh and Erin Allmann Updyke make infectious diseases acceptable fodder for dinner party conversation and provide the perfect cocktail recipe to match

This Podcast Will Kill You Exactly Right

    • Science
    • 4.8 • 13.6K Ratings

This podcast might not actually kill you, but it covers so many things that can. Each episode tackles a different disease, from its history, to its biology, and finally, how scared you need to be. Ecologists and epidemiologists Erin Welsh and Erin Allmann Updyke make infectious diseases acceptable fodder for dinner party conversation and provide the perfect cocktail recipe to match

    COVID-19 Chapter 18: Conservation & Pandemics

    COVID-19 Chapter 18: Conservation & Pandemics

    The COVID-19 pandemic has touched all of our lives in incredibly varied ways, with no two experiences exactly alike. Despite this, we all probably share the same thought: how can we stop this from happening again? In this episode of our Anatomy of a Pandemic series, we ask that question in the context of wildlife conservation. Why is protecting biodiversity synonymous with protecting our own health? If spillover events themselves are inevitable, how can we limit the likelihood that they will become epidemics or pandemics? Where do commercial wildlife markets and subsistence hunting fit into the equation? To help us answer these questions and more, we are thrilled to be joined by Dr. Chris Walzer, Executive Director of Health at the Wildlife Conservation Society (interview recorded April 6, 2021). And for more information on the topics discussed, check out the WCS’s COVID-19 News and Information page and read a recent Op-Ed piece by Dr. Susan Lieberman and Dr. Christian Walzer about why biodiversity is crucial for preventing pandemics. 

    As always, we wrap up the episode by discussing the top five things we learned from our expert. To help you get a better idea of the topics covered in this episode, we’ve listed the questions below:
    Now that we are over a year into this pandemic, what do we know about the sequence of events that led to this pandemic? 
    People have been studying spillovers and the emergence of novel viruses for a long time and have been saying that a pandemic like this was inevitable. So what did we do wrong on a national or international level?
    What things did we do right, or what things did we adequately prepare for during this pandemic? 
    What are the ways in which we’ve made scientific progress or the ways in which the world has fundamentally changed that have allowed this pandemic to play out differently than it could have 20 years ago? 
    Can you talk us through some of the nuance in the interactions between commercial wildlife markets, spillover events, and wildlife hunting for subsistence purposes?
    How predictable are spillover events themselves? Or perhaps, how predictable are the scenarios that would increase risks for spillover and how predictable are the events that follow?
    Since another spillover event could happen at almost any time, what measures do we have in place to prevent these events from turning into another pandemic? Where does wildlife and forest conservation fit into this equation? 
    Pandemic preparedness and pandemic response are two different things. How do these two aspects of dealing with a pandemic differ and who is involved in each of these efforts?
    What are people who study this the most concerned about when it comes to the next pandemic? What are the areas in which we still have big improvements to make in how we prepare for or predict or try to prevent pandemics based on what we’ve learned during this one?
    What do you hope we keep or learn from this pandemic, either personally or as a society?

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    Ep 72 White-Nose Syndrome: How deep is your torpor?

    Ep 72 White-Nose Syndrome: How deep is your torpor?

    A fluffy white fungus and a little brown bat. A deafening silence and an uncertain future. In this episode, we explore one of the most devastating wildlife diseases in recent times, white-nose syndrome. Since its debut in North America in 2006, this fungal pathogen has spread across much of the continent, leaving millions of dead bats in its wake. Why is it so deadly? Which bats are at risk? Where did it come from? And most importantly, what can we do about it? We attempt to answer these questions and more about this pernicious pathogen, and we are so delighted to be joined by Dr. Winifred Frick, Chief Scientist at Bat Conservation International and Associate Research Professor at UC Santa Cruz, who helps us take a closer look at the ecology and impact of this disease on North American bat populations.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 1 hr 24 min
    COVID-19 Chapter 17: Frontline Mental Health

    COVID-19 Chapter 17: Frontline Mental Health

    This pandemic has certainly taken its toll on all of us, but one group that has been particularly hard hit are those who have been on the front lines, continuing to take care of patients even when PPE was running low or nonexistent, even when there were no more ICU beds available. During both non-pandemic and pandemic times, physicians and other healthcare workers experience a tremendous deal of stress and pressure that can lead to depression, isolation, anxiety, moral injury, and other mental health issues. In this episode of our Anatomy of a Pandemic series, we seek to understand the factors contributing to the prevalence of these mental health issues among healthcare workers, the stigma that often prevents the seeking of treatment, the role that the COVID-19 pandemic has played in exacerbating these issues, and the ways in which the medical system has done or can do better. We are very excited to be joined by Michael Myers, MD (interview recorded March 29, 2021), psychiatrist and Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at SUNY-Downstate Health Sciences University in Brooklyn, NY and author of several books, including his latest, Becoming a Doctors’ Doctor: A Memoir.

    As always, we wrap up the episode by discussing the top five things we learned from our expert. To help you get a better idea of the topics covered in this episode, we’ve listed the questions below:
    How did you become interested in the field of physician mental health, and what made you choose to pursue it?
    Can you talk us through some of the challenges healthcare workers face and what impact they have on their mental health? Does this field experience things such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide at higher rates than the general public?
    What does the stigma surrounding mental illness look like in the medical field and how does it contribute to the high rate of mental health issues in healthcare workers?
    Can you talk a bit about where these mental health issues among healthcare workers originate and how each step of medical training and beyond contributes to the problem?
    How much of this is a problem unique to the US and how much of it is universal?
    What are some of those changes you have seen throughout your thirty-five year career as a psychiatrist primarily treating other physicians? How have we gotten better, and what are the areas in which we have failed to make improvements?
    How do these public health crises, especially COVID-19, amplify the issues that physicians are already facing in terms of mental health?
    Can you talk a bit about the “healthcare heroes” narrative and how damaging it can be?
    What is some of the fallout you think we can expect to see in the long-term from the COVID-19 pandemic?
    As family members or friends or partners of healthcare workers, what are worrying signs that we can look out for? How do we recognize these signs in ourselves as well?
    For those who maybe have friends or partners or family members who are frontline health workers, what are some of the ways in which we can help and provide meaningful support during these times as well as in non pandemic times?
    What do you feel are the biggest failings of the medical system in terms of emotional and mental health support for those in medicine? How can we begin to change things? What role should medical school play? Hospitals? Other physicians?

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 1 hr 8 min
    Ep 71 Onchocerciasis/River Blindness: So many mysteries

    Ep 71 Onchocerciasis/River Blindness: So many mysteries

    In this classic TPWKY episode we travel down rivers and into worm-laden nodes as we take a look at the complex world of Onchocerca volvulus, the vector-borne parasite that causes river blindness. Join us as we learn why the name ‘river blindness’ captures only one dimension of the devastation caused by this parasite, how the short evolutionary history of this worm is at once surprising and enlightening, and why grasping the disease ecology of this system has been crucial in successful control efforts. As a bonus, if you tune in, you’ll get to hear how on earth The J. Geils Band fits into this story and the integral role that dog digestion has played in the history of this parasite.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 1 hr 13 min
    COVID-19 Chapter 16: Disparities, Take 2

    COVID-19 Chapter 16: Disparities, Take 2

    The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted racial and ethnic minorities, especially here in the United States. Higher infection, hospitalization, and death rates due to COVID-19 have been observed for historically marginalized groups, and the harmful effects stem beyond those relating to health, with higher unemployment and food and housing insecurity also reported. Yet these disparities did not emerge anew from this current pandemic; rather, this pandemic has served to amplify existing structural inequalities in the healthcare, educational, legal, and housing systems, among others. In this episode of our Anatomy of a Pandemic series, we explore the deeply entrenched roots of racial disparities in the US, how our narrow focus on outcomes often fails to capture the complex causes of inequalities, and ways in which we can begin to work towards health equity in this country. We are so thrilled to be joined by Harriet Washington (@haw95) (interview recorded March 10, 2021), writer and medical ethicist, whose groundbreaking work on this subject through books such as Medical Apartheid, A Terrible Thing to Waste, Carte Blanche, and others has led to much-deserved critical acclaim.

    As always, we wrap up the episode by discussing the top five things we learned from our expert. To help you get a better idea of the topics covered in this episode, we’ve listed the questions below:
    Can you tell us a bit about your new book, Carte Blanche: The Erosion of Medical Consent, and what inspired you to write it?
    Although health disparities have been around forever, it was only within the last few decades that the term itself was coined, and it’s often only vaguely defined. Would you mind describing what we mean when we talk about health disparities?
    Can you talk a bit about how it’s not just being able to go to a doctor or afford a doctor, but how things like access to education, chronic stress, and environmental justice interact with and compound each other when it comes to health disparities?
    What are some of the different ways that we measure health disparities? 
    Can you talk about why it is important to understand the context of these disparate outcomes? 
    Can you talk about the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on communities that were already facing significant barriers to healthcare?
    How has the narrative of ‘race-based medicine’ shown up in discussions of the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on certain groups of people?
    How can we increase health equity in this country? What can we do at an individual level to help, and what are some policies at the state or national level that could help narrow this gap?
    How can the medical establishment work to earn back the trust of these communities that we have historically disenfranchised (and in many ways continue to disenfranchise) when it comes to health?

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Ep 70 Henrietta Lacks: HeLa, There, & Everywhere

    Ep 70 Henrietta Lacks: HeLa, There, & Everywhere

    Of the many topics our podcast has covered in the past, from smallpox to scurvy, vaccines to birth control and beyond, one factor has linked nearly all of them: HeLa cells. These cells and the woman from whom they were taken have often remained behind the scenes in the coverage of these topics, but they have nevertheless been absolutely fundamental in the development of technologies, the advancement of knowledge, and the discussions of ethics, ownership, and informed consent. In this week’s episode, we want to do more than acknowledge the contribution of Henrietta Lacks and her cells to the field of biomedical science. We want to explore what it is about HeLa cells and other cell lines that makes them ‘immortal’. We want to learn what Henrietta was like as a person. We want to ask how it was possible for her cells to be taken from her without her consent or knowledge. And we want to share the tremendous impact Henrietta and her cells have made and continue to make on our world in so many ways.

    For more information about the Henrietta Lacks Foundation, check out the website.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 1 hr 13 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
13.6K Ratings

13.6K Ratings

a1waysangie ,

Interesting, informative and understandable.

Thank you for making science understandable for us ‘layfolk’

Twinkton ,

Love this podcast!

I really enjoy this podcast and learned so much about certain viruses and other illnesses and truly can’t get enough of Erin Welsh and Erin Allmann Updyke!

Wisonsin fan ,

Love, love, love this podcast

Every episode is so interesting. I love that they are broken up into different sections so you are educated about the biology, history and current events. We work with rabies and botulism at my work so learning how those diseases affect the body really helped my understanding.

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