Translation is the process of turning basic scientific research into therapies that cure disease, new sources of energy that heal the planet, and other things that move the world forward.
The Translation podcast takes a deep dive into scientific advancements with a huge potential to improve society. We talk directly with the people advancing the science with their own hands and minds, and focus on how we can translate the science from the bench to the benefit of all.
Initially centered on biology and synthetic biology, we’ll talk with the most promising young scientists in the field. We aim to demystify the science for a general audience and to shine a light on how great science turns into great business. We hope these discussions will inspire scientists, entrepreneurs, and investors to help commercialize breakthrough research.
If you’re an author of an upcoming paper in bio or know of any interesting papers dropping soon and want to hear from the authors, drop us an email at email@example.com.
Irresistible Cancer Therapies with Nick Goldner
Evolution is happening even at the cellular scale. Whether it's a virus, a bacterial pathogen, or a cancer cell, disease-causing agents are responding to the therapies we throw at them, updating their genes and molecular pathways to resist death. As a trained microbiologist, Nick Goldner and his co-founder Chris Bulow spent their years in grad school using -omics data to overcome antibiotic resistance in bacteria which led to their first company Viosera. As they struggled with the harsh realities of the antibiotics market, they stumbled upon the connection between bacterial and cancer resistance mechanisms. With this, they started resistanceBio which combines sophisticated tumoroids, intense patient sampling, and multi-omics to mimic the evolution of real tumors and ultimately find therapies that are irresistible.
Screening for Enhanced RNA Vaccines with Kathrin Leppek, Gun Woo Byeon, and Hannah Wayment-Steele
When COVID-19 hit and society decided to use mRNA vaccines for the first time, many questions remained about whether RNA itself was ready for the challenge. But three scientists at Stanford University who had never worked with each other before the pandemic realized that RNA’s limitations were merely a design challenge and not an issue with the substrate itself. Through emails and zooms, Kathrin, Gun, and Hannah built a tool to massively test RNA designs. With it, they screened for RNA with better functionality, increasing the stability and expression of the protein they encode and ultimately creating a platform to improve these life-saving vaccines.
Illuminating Immunity to COVID-19 with Susanna Elledge
COVID-19 tests have become synonymous with jamming a swab up our nose to find out whether we have an active infection. But as we progress through this pandemic, a test that tells us whether people have antibodies against the virus will be massively important to creating public health initiatives and deciding who to vaccinate next. Unfortunately, these serology tests are exceedingly tedious to perform, inhibiting their widespread use. Realizing this problem, Susanna talks us through how she utilized protein engineering to create a novel serology test that is massively easier and quicker than traditional methods. Importantly, this test can be used in resource low settings to help end the pandemic worldwide.
Listening to Neurons with Sumner Norman
Brain machine interfaces untangle the complex web of neurons firing in our brains and relay the underlying meaning to a computer. These devices are being adapted to help patients regain motor control, monitor our mental well being, and may one day even make us more empathetic. State of the art methods to do this have massive trade-offs, either being high resolution yet requiring devices to be embedded in our heads or low resolution but non-invasive. Finding a key middle ground, Sumner uses advances in ultrasound to monitor the brain activity of monkeys performing specific tasks. With this data, he can not only record the brain activity associated with performing the task itself but also the intention of doing it before the subject even has a chance to move.
Phage Evolved Medicine with Travis Blum
Enzymes that break down other proteins, or proteases, could be used as a powerful therapeutic if they could specifically chew-up disease causing entities. However many proteases are non-specific, breaking any protein in their path, while the specific ones target proteins that would provide no therapeutic benefit. Travis and his colleagues developed a riff on the method known as PANCE that utilizes bacteria and bacterial viruses known as phages to evolve proteins toward a specific goal. With it, he retrains the sequence-specific protease, botulinum neurotoxin, toward new targets and away from its original ones. The novel enzymes Travis generates have the potential to not only stimulate nerve regeneration but also deliver itself to the correct cell types for a whole new type of therapy.
What boosts immune boosters? with Kevin Litchfield
Novel drugs that boost the immune system to fight cancer have become pharma darlings in the few short years since their approval. These drugs, known as immunotherapies, have so far focused on improving T cell responses and can be used to cure a multitude of different cancer types. Yet more often than not, immunotherapies have no effect on a patient, leaving doctors guessing on whether to prescribe the drug. To find the reason why some people respond while others don’t, Kevin and his team create a huge database of sequences derived from immunotherapy-treated patients. With it, he discovers biomarkers, mutational signatures, and immune profiles that correlate to response with the hopes that one day, these measurements form a diagnostic to ensure we treat the right patients.
Excellent scientific discussions.
This podcast combines a detailed and rigorous look at the science behind each topic with hopeful, futuristic discussion about its potential. Loved every episode so far.
Great podcast on new biology papers
Super enjoyable! Will be subscribing!
overview of new publications
podcast provided a great overview of a new publication on protein engineering. super cool to hear from the actual graduate student!