Show cover of This Podcast Will Kill You

This Podcast Will Kill You

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.


Ep 111 RSV: What’s syncytial anyway?
We’re kicking off our sixth season in the same way we ended our fifth: with another headline-making respiratory virus. But as our listeners know, not all respiratory viruses are the same, and it’s often those differences among them that play the biggest role in their spread or the symptoms they cause. This episode, we’re exploring the virus that everyone has been talking about lately. No, not that one. Or that one. The other one. Yes, we’re talking about respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. For many people, the recent surge in RSV infections that dominated headlines this winter may have been the first time they had heard of this viral infection or realized how deadly it could be. But for others, RSV has long inspired fear and dread. In this episode, we Erins explain why this virus deserves such notoriety, how long we’ve recognized the dangers of infection, and what hope the future may hold for novel RSV treatments or vaccines. If at any point you’ve wondered what all the fuss is about this virus or how to pronounce syncytial, then this is the episode for you!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
90:05 1/31/23
Wondery Presents: Frozen Head
Hosted by Ash Kelley and Alaina Urquhart from the hit show Morbid.When 90-year-old Laurence Pilgeram drops dead on the sidewalk outside his condo, you might think that’s the end of his story. But, really, it’s just the beginning. Because Laurence and others like him have signed up to be frozen and brought back to life in the future. And that belief will pull multiple generations of the Pilgeram family into a cryonics soap opera filled with dead pets, gold coins, grenades, fist fights, mysterious packages, family feuds, Hall of Fame baseball legends, and frozen heads — lots of frozen heads. From Wondery, comes a story about life, death, and what comes next.Follow Frozen Head on Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts. Binge early and ad-free by subscribing to Wondery+ in Apple Podcasts or the Wondery App.  Listen to Frozen Head: Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
03:48 1/23/23
Ep 110 Influenza, Take 2: Fowl Play
Ep 110 Influenza, Take 2: Sitting Ducks; Fowl PlayOver five years ago, on October 31, 2017, the very first episode of This Podcast Will Kill You premiered, an action-packed (and mildly disorganized) tour of the influenza virus and the 1918 flu pandemic. So much has happened since that episode’s release, both within the podcast and in the world of public health, not the least of which is a respiratory virus pandemic. Given this distance from the podcast’s beginning and the added perspective of experiencing a pandemic firsthand, we decided to circle back to where we started by revisiting influenza for our fifth season finale. In this episode, we provide a bird’s eye view of influenza viruses overall, from how they make you sick to the long history of influenza pandemics and where we stand with case numbers in recent years. Then we dig deeper by giving you a different kind of bird’s eye view: a close examination of highly pathogenic avian influenza, especially H5N1. How is this virus different from your standard seasonal influenza strain, where did it come from, and how worried do we need to be? Are we just a bunch of sitting ducks? Tune in to find out.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
92:14 11/29/22
Ep 109 Chikungunya: Not dengue (or is it?)
Somehow it’s taken us until the penultimate episode to cover this season’s first mosquito-borne virus. But we assure you, this episode is well-worth the wait. Although Chikungunya virus is often lumped in with dengue or Zika, the unique characteristics that distinguish Chikungunya virus from these other arboviruses are just as important to note as the similarities among them. In this episode, we explore these differences and similarities in the biology of Chikungunya virus before reassessing what we thought we knew about the history of this disease, a history that is presently under revision. Finally, we wrap up the episode as we always do, by taking stock of where we stand with Chikungunya virus today. Tune in for a good deal of dengue compare/contrast, a whodunnit (or whichdiseaseisit) in the history of these two diseases, and a frustrating attempt to gather present-day case numbers.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
81:06 11/15/22
Ep 108 Gout: Toetally fascinating
Although today we tend to think about diseases in terms of signs and symptoms, tests and treatments, that hasn’t always been the case. For much of history, diseases carried with them a deeper meaning beyond the pathophysiological processes leading to their development. A diagnosis was as much about the identity and personality of an individual as it was about the disease itself, and this was especially the case for the topic of today’s episode: gout. But before we get into the tangled history of this “monarch among maladies”, we first break down its biology and possible evolutionary origins. Once we have a solid understanding of this crystalline illness, we turn our attention to the changing perceptions of gout over time and why gout was once a welcomed diagnosis, in sharp contrast with so many other diseases. Finally, we take stock of gout around the world today, no easy feat. Tune in for a fascinating deep dive into this incredibly common but often overlooked illness.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
77:13 11/1/22
Ep 107 Sepsis: It's a mess
Over the years of the podcast, we have often struggled with questions of why: why pathogens act the way they do, why certain people get sick while others don’t, or why we know little about some diseases. This episode is no exception - sepsis certainly inspires many “whys”. But for perhaps the first time on the pod, we find ourselves grappling not only with “why?” but also with “what?”. What, indeed, is sepsis? Ask a dozen doctors and you may get a dozen different answers. Our first goal for this episode is to sift through the various definitions of sepsis and what we know about its pathology to get a firm handle on this deadly consequence of infection. We then turn our sights to a thrilling period of sepsis history - Joseph Lister and his carbolic acid spray - before attempting to address the status of sepsis around the world today. By the end of the episode, your picture of sepsis may not be crystal clear, but hopefully the edges are a little less blurry.And helping us to de-blur the edges of sepsis is the wonderful Katy Grainger, leading sepsis and amputee advocate and on the Board of Directors of Sepsis Alliance, who shares with us her harrowing sepsis experience. You can learn more about Katy’s story and advocacy work by following her on instagram (@katysepsisamputee), TikTok (@katysepsisamputee), Facebook, or by checking out See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
99:37 10/18/22
Ep 106 Turner Syndrome: Let's talk about X
Are you in the mood to chat chromosomes, specifically the X chromosome? If so, have we got the perfect episode for you! You may have come across the definition of Turner syndrome as a genetic condition resulting from the partial or complete loss of an X chromosome, but what does that actually mean? What is the X chromosome, what does it do, and why is it so important? We attempt to answer these questions with our exploration into the biology of Turner syndrome before setting our sights on the who’s and when’s of the X chromosome and Turner syndrome. Our path through the history of these bundled packets of genetic material wouldn’t be complete without some fascinating detours, such as an exploration into the inspiring life of Nettie Stevens and the beautiful variations in sex chromosomes found in the animal kingdom. Finally, we wrap up our episode by taking stock of how much progress we’ve made with Turner syndrome treatment and research but also how far we still have to go. Tune in for all this and more!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
88:12 10/4/22
Ep 105 Down in the Mumps
We’ve covered measles, we’ve taken on rubella, and now we’re finishing up the classic MMR vaccine by exploring the other M: mumps. To some listeners, mumps may be a painful childhood memory while to others it’s just a letter in a vaccine they were too young to remember getting. But by the end of this episode, we promise that you’ll all be much more familiar with this strange little virus. How does the mumps virus make you sick and give you that classic swollen face look? What is so bad about the mumps that Maurice Hilleman decided to snag a sample from his sick daughter to make a vaccine? Where do we stand with mumps today and what do declining vaccination rates have to do with those not-so-great numbers? Tune in to hear our take on all these questions and many more in this classic TPWKY episode.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
77:00 9/20/22
Ep 104 The Bends: Industrial Revolution, baby
Don your wetsuit, grab your oxygen tank, and securely fasten your mask, because this week we’re going on our deepest dive yet. In this episode, we’re plumbing the depths of decompression sickness, aka the bends, to get a better handle on how gases and pressure can be so very deadly. We start out with a bit of Gases 101, examining how decompression sickness occurs and why it affects your body in the ways it does. Next, we explore the not-so-distant history of this disease, a history that includes far more tales of bridge engineering than it does of SCUBA diving (but just as fascinating). Finally, we rise to the surface, but not too quickly, with a look at decompression sickness around the world today. Tune in to hear the highs, the lows, and everything in between of this industrial era disease, and feel free to leave your decompression schedule at home.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
104:23 9/6/22
Ep 103 Leptospirosis: Don't blame the rats
The story of leptospirosis is chock full of variety. In terms of biology, any number of different Leptospira species and serovars can play a role in infection, and the resulting infection can run from asymptomatic to deadly. As for ecology, virtually any mammalian species can either act as an affected reservoir for the pathogens or fall victim to a deadly infection. The history of leptospirosis takes us across continents and through centuries, illustrating how changes in scientific thought and technology shaped our understanding of this and other zoonotic diseases. And the current status of this One Health disease is no less varied, both in the wide distribution of leptospirosis as well as the vastly differing (but disturbingly high) estimates of annual cases and deaths. In this episode, we do our best to tackle as much of the variety in this neglected disease as we can, from its impact on us and our furry friends, to the classic story of its discovery and the biggest remaining gaps in our knowledge today. Tune in for all this and more!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
75:48 8/23/22
Ep 102 Arsenic: Paris Green with Envy
“The king of poisons,” “the poison of kings,” “inheritance powder.” As its various nicknames suggest, arsenic’s notoriety largely stems from its use as a murder weapon. But as we explore in this episode, the world of arsenic is much, much bigger than just as a plot device in an Agatha Christie novel, and it remains one of the most important environmental contaminants today. But how exactly does arsenic affect your body? When did people first start to use arsenic and for what purposes? Where does it have the most impact currently? And, of course, why was it so popular as a murder weapon? Tune in to hear the answers to these and many, many more questions about one of the most notorious poisons out there.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
94:15 8/9/22
Ep 101 Immortality: This Podcast Won't Kill You
For what was originally going to be our 100th regular season episode, we wanted to turn the vaguely threatening title of our podcast on its head by exploring a topic that’s not about something that can kill you but rather the hows and whys of staying alive, forever. That’s right, this week we’re taking on the immense and amorphous concept of immortality, viewed primarily through the lens of biology. Why don’t humans or any other organisms live forever, evolutionarily speaking? What can the long search for an elixir of life tell us about our future prospects of life without end? How close has current technology brought us to achieving immortality in even the remotest sense of the word? This may not be your typical TPWKY episode, but we promise laughter, trivia, and existential contemplation about the meaning of life, so you’re not gonna want to miss it.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
74:31 7/26/22
Ep 100 Monkeypox: Here we go again?
A little over two years into a pandemic, the last thing you probably want to see is headlines announcing yet another disease spreading across the globe. And yet, here we are. Beginning in May 2022, an increasing number of cases of monkeypox have been reported in many countries around the world, both in places where the monkeypox virus is known to occur as well as places where it had previously never been observed. And although the monkeypox virus itself is not new, some of the ways it is acting during this outbreak are. In this episode, we take you through what we knew about monkeypox before this outbreak began, first by exploring the biology of this poxvirus and how it makes you sick before walking through the history of its discovery and past epidemics. Then we shift our focus to the ongoing outbreak: What is different about the patterns we’re seeing today compared to past outbreaks? How has the virus changed? How exactly is it transmitted? And, a question we haven’t asked in a very long time, how scared do we need to be? Tune in to hear us address these questions and many more about this re-emerging poxvirus.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
91:13 7/12/22
Ep 99 Salmonella: A hard egg to crack
We’ve all been there: doubled over in pain as stomach cramps grip your guts; the panicked shuffle to the nearest bathroom; the waves of nausea and chills as you cry out loud, “oh no, what did I eat??”.  At the very least, food poisoning is a humbling experience, but at the worst, it can be absolutely deadly. In this episode, we take a deep dive into one group of pathogens commonly responsible for outbreaks of food-borne illness, the infamous Salmonella. We start first with an exploration into how and why these bacteria make you sick before turning towards the history of these pathogens, a history which includes a brief jaunt through a bizarre story involving a cult, bioterrorism, and a small Oregon town. Finally, we wrap up the episode with a look at Salmonella by the numbers today. You’ll leave this episode brimming with Salmonella knowledge, thinking twice about how well you cook your chicken or wash your veggies, and contemplating how fast you can get your hands on a food thermometer. Trust us - you’re not gonna want to miss this one!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
97:05 6/28/22
Ep 98 Folate: Marmite, anyone?
It’s been years since our first (and, until now, only) vitamin-centric episode on scurvy, and we’re thrilled to be dipping our toes back into these nutritious waters with this episode on folate. Have you ever wondered why folate is important or what the difference is between folate and folic acid? Or maybe you’re curious about this vitamin’s discovery and the impact that fortification programs have had around the world. Look no further - this episode has got all the folate facts you could desire. Tune in to hear how antifolates are used in cancer treatment, where folate got its name, and what a famous savory food spread has to do with the history of this essential vitamin.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
74:12 6/14/22
Special Episode: Snake Venom Evolution
Our snake venom episode last week took us down some fascinating roads, from the pathophysiological effects of these compounds to the snake detection hypothesis and from the development of antivenom to the incidence of snakebite around the world today. But how did we make it through that whole episode without discussing how and why these venoms evolved in the first place? It’s because we were saving it for this one, where we enlisted the expert help of Professor Nick Casewell, Professor of Tropical Disease Biology at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Director of the Centre for Snakebite Research & Interventions. In this bonus episode, the last in our series for now, Professor Casewell takes us through the remarkable world of snake venom evolution, covering such topics as the genetic basis for venom evolution, how snake venom is related to prey type, why spitting cobras spit, and so much more. Tune in wherever you get your podcasts to gain an even greater appreciation for these venom-producing snakes as well as the brilliant people who research them!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
59:31 6/7/22
Ep 97 Snake Venom: Collateral Damage
How do you feel about snakes? Intrigued or terrified? In awe or creeped out? Of course, those aren’t the only options; the sight or thought of a snake can evoke many different emotions, but chances are indifference isn’t one of them. And is it any wonder? Some snakes can produce incredibly potent venoms that can seriously harm or even kill you, a characteristic that likely helped earn them their prominent role in many cultures and religions as a creature or god to be respected, if not feared. In this episode, we take a closer look at the diverse compounds that make up these venoms by exploring how they impact our bodies in the myriad ways they do and the current tools we have to combat their effects. Then we turn to evolution, not of snakes themselves but rather the role snakes may have played in primate evolution (snake detection hypothesis, anyone?) before discussing the historical development of antivenoms. We round out the episode by reviewing the current status of snakebite as a neglected tropical disease and mentioning some very exciting therapies on the horizon. Don’t missssss out on this enlightening envenoming episode today!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
90:53 5/31/22
Special Episode: Coprolites!
Our tapeworm episode last week mentioned the remarkable finding of tapeworm eggs in a 270 million-year old shark coprolite, that is, fossilized feces. And this certainly wasn’t the first time coprolites have come up on the podcast; we’ve referenced them several times before, mostly when discussing early histories of parasitic worms. But there is so much more to the world of coprolites than just which parasites were found and when. To help us explore all that coprolites can teach us is the world-renowned paleontologist Dr. Karen Chin, Professor at University of Colorado Boulder and Curator of Paleontology at CU-Boulder Museum of Natural History. In this exciting bonus episode, Dr. Chin takes us on a fascinating tour of the what (what are coprolites?), the why (why are they important?), the how (how do feces get preserved?), and the who (who dung it?) of these incredible trace fossils.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
53:00 5/24/22
Ep 96 Tapeworm: We encyst you listen
We can probably all agree that the thought of a tapeworm hiding out in your gut is not a pleasant one. Nor is the image of tapeworm larvae forming cysts in your muscles, organs, and even your brain. So listening to an entire episode on these parasitic worms? We understand why that may seem like a bit much. But trust us, the world of these worms is too fascinating and important to be missed. In this episode, we break down the biology of the tapeworm species that commonly infect humans and discuss the role of these parasites as a leading infectious cause of epilepsy around the world. Then we venture into the ancient and not-so-ancient history of these tapeworms, starting at “who was infected first - the human or the pig?” and ending with “what was the tapeworm diet all about anyway?” Finally, we wrap up the episode with a look at tapeworm by the numbers today. Tune in wherever you get your podcasts!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
72:34 5/17/22
Special Episode: On the Origin of Epidemiology
The classic tale of epidemiology almost always begins with public health hero John Snow traipsing all over London to track down the source of the 1854 cholera epidemic, ultimately identified as the Broad Street Pump. While Snow’s famous endeavor earned him the title “the father of field epidemiology”, it turns out, as it so often does, that the real story is more complicated. In this bonus episode, we look beyond John Snow to explore the deeper roots of epidemiology with Dr. Jim Downs, Gilder Lehrman-National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of Civil War Era Studies and History at Gettysburg College. Dr. Downs’ latest book, Maladies of Empire: How Colonialism, Slavery, and War Transformed Medicine, reexamines the historical drivers that led physicians to turn their attentions towards the spread of disease in populations. Where does John Snow fit into this revised story of epidemiology? Tune in to find out.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
58:13 5/10/22
Ep 95 Tetanus: An inhuman calamity!
[CW: Firsthand account includes description of the death of an infant. Skip approximately first 3 min to avoid.]What comes to mind when you hear the word tetanus? For many people, it’s probably the horrible thought of stepping on a rusty nail or the every-so-often Tdap booster you get at your doctor’s office. Thanks to the wide availability of this incredibly effective vaccine, not many of us have an image of what an infection with tetanus actually looks like or how deadly it can be. But that’s not the case everywhere, especially in places with limited access to these life-saving vaccines. In this episode, we take you through the biology of the spore-forming, soil-dwelling, obligately anaerobic, Gram positive Clostridium tetani and the powerful paralytic neurotoxins it produces. We then venture into the history of this pathogen, a history that includes a tour through early medical texts and a discussion of the origins of epidemiology as viewed through the context of neonatal tetanus in the American South. We round out the episode by reviewing where tetanus still poses a substantial threat today and highlighting some very exciting ways this deadly pathogen may be used to treat cancer! Tune in to gain a newfound respect for this incredible microbe!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
74:09 5/3/22
Special Episode: Chlamydia, Koalas, and More!
Chlamydia trachomatis may have stolen the show in our last episode, but there are many other Chlamydiae that deserve some time under the spotlight. In this bonus episode, Dr. Martina Jelocnik (@MartinaJelocnik) and Dr. Sam Phillips (@Sam_Phillips_83) from the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, join us to chat about some of these other Chlamydia species and the effects they have on wildlife and domestic animals. Curious about koalas and chlamydia? This episode will bring you up to speed on how these charismatic creatures are impacted by Chlamydia pecorum as well as current research efforts towards a vaccine to combat this pathogen. Wondering about psittacosis and birds? Or livestock and Chlamydiae? We’ve got you covered there as well! Tune in this week for a truly fascinating deep dive into the wide world of these pathogens!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
58:46 4/26/22
Ep 94 Chlamydia: Double Trouble
With this episode, you’re getting much more than you probably bargained for, thanks to the quirks of Chlamydia trachomatis. This small but mighty bacterium can cause a number of different conditions throughout your body, most notably in your eyes and your genital tract, and the resulting infections, if left untreated, can lead to substantial and permanent damage. In this episode, we focus on the two most common forms of chlamydia infection, trachoma (eyes) and chlamydia (genital tract), and discuss the similar pathway through which this bacterium leads to these distinct diseases. While the biology of trachoma and chlamydia may be similar, the history of these two infections could not be more distinct. Tune in to hear what ancient medical texts have to say about trachoma, how surprisingly recently chlamydia was recognized as an STI, and where we stand with these two incredibly common infections today!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
88:24 4/19/22
Re-Release: Ep 27 Vaccines Part 2: Have you thanked your immune system lately?
[This episode is a re-release of Ep 27 Vaccines Part 2: Have you thanked your immune system lately?, originally published May 21, 2019]Were you stoked about the history and biology of vaccines we covered in part 1, but left with even more questions? Were you really hoping to hear us talk about anti-vaccine sentiment and address misconceptions about vaccines in detail? Did you want even more expert guest insight?! Well then do we have the episode for you! Today, we delve into the history of the “anti-vaccine movement” which, spoiler alert, is nothing new. With the help of Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and Co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development we address some of the most common concerns and questions that arise about vaccines, their safety, and their efficacy. And finally, we hear from Bill Nye The Science Guy about dealing with the challenges of science communication in the modern world when diseases spread as fast as fake news headlines. Y’all. This is the episode you’ve been waiting for. You can follow Dr. Peter Hotez on twitter @PeterHotez and check out his book “Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism” And you can listen to “Science Rules!” the new podcast from Bill Nye the Science Guy, available now on stitcher or wherever you are listening to this podcast!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
133:56 4/12/22
Re-Release: Ep 26 Vaccines Part 1: Let's hear it for Maurice
[This episode is a re-release of Ep 26 Vaccines Part 1: Let's hear it for Maurice, originally published May 14, 2019]The wait is finally over: this week we are very excited to bring you the episode we’ve been teasing for weeks: vaccines! This week and next (you don’t have to wait a full two weeks for the next episode!), we are presenting a two-part series on vaccines. In today’s episode, we dive deep into the biology of vaccines, from how they stimulate your (amazing) immune system to protect you, to how they make you into an almost-superhero, shielding the innocents around you from deadly infections. We take you back hundreds, nay, thousands of years to when something akin to vaccination first began, and then we walk along the long road of vaccine development to see just how massive an impact vaccines have had on the modern world. The best part? We are joined by not one, but two experts from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Gail Rodgers and Dr. Padmini Srikantiah explain the process of vaccine development, highlight the challenges of vaccine deployment, and shine a hopeful light on the future of vaccines. And be sure to tune in next week for part 2 where we’ll focus on vaccine hesitancy and address common misconceptions surrounding vaccines in even more depth.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
125:00 4/5/22
Special Episode: Electricity
While last week’s episode covered ample ground when it came to lightning strikes, there is so much more to the world of electricity left to explore. Fortunately, there’s a bonus episode for that! This week, we’re joined by a familiar voice, Dr. Timothy Jorgensen, whose previous appearance on the podcast (see Ep 53 Radiation: X-Ray Marks the Spot) helped to lay out the basics of radiation. In this bonus episode, Dr. Jorgensen, Professor of Radiation Medicine and Director of the Health Physics Graduate Program at Georgetown University, returns to the pod to help us dig deeper into the vast topic of electricity. His latest popular science book, Spark: The Life of Electricity and the Electricity of Life, gives us much to talk about, from how electricity works to the difference between direct and alternating current, from electric fish to ECT, and beyond. As an accomplished science writer, Dr. Jorgensen also shares some insights into using storytelling as a teaching tool and advice for those who may want to become better science communicators themselves. Tune in wherever you get your podcasts!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
46:37 3/29/22
Ep 93 Lightning & Other Stories: Power Hour (and a Half)
Lightning strikes have an aura of myth and legend around them, and their mystical reputation is inflated by stories that tell of people who, after having been hit by lightning, are suddenly able to speak a new language or play the piano expertly. However, such embellished stories often fail to distinguish truth from fiction and rarely acknowledge the devastating toll that getting struck by lightning can have on your body and mind. Which is where TPWKY hopes to set the record straight. In this episode, we explore what lightning is, how it can cause injuries or death, and what distinguishes it from other electrical shocks. Then, rather than focusing solely on the history of lightning, we take a tour through four vignettes in the broad history of electricity that tell of ways humanity has harnessed it for both bad and good. By the end of the episode, you’ll be shocked by the story of a dentist from Buffalo, electrified with the knowledge of how lightning forms, energized with the current status of lightning around the globe, and left with no resistance to terrible electricity-themed puns. Tune in wherever you get your podcasts! See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
86:16 3/22/22
Special Episode: Epstein-Barr Virus
In last week’s episode, we explored the mysterious world of multiple sclerosis (MS) and the ongoing quest to determine what causes this autoimmune disease. While it’s likely that no one single factor leads to the development of MS, the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has long been suspected to play a role in this and many other autoimmune diseases and has also been shown to be involved in several cancers. But why? How is this virus implicated in so many diseases? How does it infect us? What does it do once it’s in our bodies? Dr. Micah Luftig, Associate Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Duke University, helps to answer these questions and many more about this surprising virus. Not only does Dr. Luftig share his expert knowledge in all things EBV in this interview, he also sheds some light on what a career in academia is like and drops some great advice on how to feel out whether a research career might be right for you. Tune in wherever you get your podcasts!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
59:58 3/15/22
Ep 92 Multiple Sclerosis: Scarred nerves & skating saints
Like many autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis so clearly illustrates how detection and description of a disease only gets us so far when it comes to prevention, treatment, and cure. In the over 150 years since the first comprehensive description of multiple sclerosis, a great deal of progress has been made to understand the what and how of this disease, but many mysteries still abound, especially surrounding the why. In this episode, we explore what we do know about how this disease works, including a discussion about two recent headline-making scientific articles implicating a certain virus in disease onset or progression. We then trace its history all the way from an ice skating saint to a sympathetic sister, and we end the episode by taking measure of the global status of this disease. Check it out wherever you get your podcasts! See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
94:36 3/8/22
Special Episode: Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus
We ended our myxoma virus episode on a bit of a cliffhanger, briefly alluding to the emergence of another deadly rabbit virus on the global scene. In this follow-up bonus episode, we take a closer look at this recent arrival, rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV), and what its rapid spread around the world has meant for both invasive European rabbits in Australia as well as native rabbit species around the world. Dr. Robyn Hall (@Virologica), veterinary virologist, epidemiologist, and Team Leader of the Rabbit Biocontrol Team at CSIRO in Australia, walks us through how this virus earned the nickname “bunny Ebola”, where it seems to be having the most impact, and what the sudden appearance of a new type of RHDV has taught us about viral evolution and ecological cascades. Then, once we fill up on RHDV facts, we talk favorite viruses, life as a veterinary virologist, and so much more! Tune in wherever you get your podcasts. And check out our website for links to where you can learn more about this fascinating and deadly virus.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
53:34 3/1/22