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Today we have part one of a two-part interview with Dr. Greg Potter, a British researcher who specializes in circadian biology, sleep, diet, and metabolism. Greg gained attention in the U.S. and Europe for his research into the importance of biological rhythms and sleep and how they affect people’s lives. His work has been featured in the BBC World Service, the Washington Post, Reuters and other scientific journals and news outlets. In addition to being a science writer and sleep consultant, Greg also is an entrepreneur who co-founded Resilient Nutrition in 2020, a company that leverages science to produce foods and supplements geared toward helping people feel and perform better. Greg earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in exercise science from Loughborough University in England before heading off to the University of Leeds for his Ph.D. Ken Ford’s STEM-Talk co-host Dawn Kernagis is traveling and was not able to join him for today’s interview with Greg.  In this first part of the interview, Ken talks to Greg about his youth and academic background and how he became interested in circadian biology. Greg also goes into detail about why he decided to specialize in sleep and what his research has taught him about the role and importance of melatonin, a hormone that helps control the body’s sleep cycle. Be on the lookout for part two of Ken’s interview with Greg, which covers a number of topics ranging from insomnia, sleep apnea, time-restricted eating, exercise, and nutrition. Show notes: [00:05:03] Ken opens the interview asking if it’s true that Greg’s curiosity and fascination with building things as a child led him to tell his uncle he wanted to be an engineer when he grew up. [00:06:22] Greg talks about how he and his older siblings lived on the campus of the school where their parents taught. [00:07:35] Ken asks Greg why he abandoned the idea of being an engineer and instead applied for an art scholarship to senior school. [00:08:28] Ken asks what kind of art Greg liked to make. [00:09:17} Ken asks how a rugby injury in Greg’s childhood sparked his initial interest in science. [00:10:33] Ken asks why Greg took a year off before attending university, and what he did during that time. [00:11:04] Greg talks about his first experience with research, which came during a physiological society studentship in his second year of university, where he worked under Dr. Johnathan Folland. [00:12:59] Ken asks about Greg’s experiences as an undergrad when he coached sprinters and worked as a personal trainer and massage therapist. [00:14:18] Ken mentions that Greg must have been a good coach because in addition to training sprinters, he also helped two men break the Atlantic Rowing World Record. [00:16:01] Ken mentions that Greg finished his undergraduate degree in exercise science at Loughborough around the same time as the 2012 London Olympic games. The Great Britain Olympic Team used Loughborough as its base. Greg talks about what a great experience that was for him as a recent graduate who had an interest in elite athletic performance. [00:16:42] Ken asks about Greg’s experience in between his undergraduate and graduate studies, where he took an internship in the sports science and sports medicine department of the Rugby Football Union. [00:17:36] Ken mentions that while at Loughborough pursing a master’s degree, Greg began to pay more attention to the role of biological rhythms and sleep in people’s lives. That prompted him to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Leeds, researching circadian rhythms, sleep, nutrition, and metabolism. Ken asks why Greg developed an interest in these research topics and what led him to the University of Leeds. [00:19:58] Ken mentions that Greg has become best-known for his work on sleep, asking about a paper Greg published in Endocrine Reviews in 2016 on circadian rhythm and sleep disruption. Ken goes on to ask Greg to explain how circadian rhythm...
Our guest today is Dr. Elaine Choung-Hee Lee, an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut. Much of Elaine’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of resilience and investigating ways to help humans improve their stress resistance, adaptation and healthspan. Elaine’s research is focused not only on understanding fundamental biology, but also on what can be done to manipulate our biology to optimize health and performance as well as preventing disease. At her UConn research center, called the EC Lee Laboratory, she and her colleagues use genomic and other technologies to ask questions about what makes high-performing athletes and warfighters so elite. In today’s interview, you’ll hear how an early passion for Marvel comics and superheroes helped nudge Elaine into a science career. You’ll also learn about some of her lab’s projects that range from improving warfighter resilience to studying the effects of exercise and supplementation on our immune functions. Show notes: [00:03:07] Dawn asks Elaine about when she became interested in superheroes. [00:04:02] Elaine shares who her favorite Marvel hero is. [00:05:20] Dawn asks Elaine what her favorite Marvel movie is. [00:05:42] Ken asks when Elaine first became interested in science. [00:06:50] Dawn mentions that Elaine had many obsessions growing up, including running and rowing, and goes on to mention that Elaine even became a rower at the University of Connecticut, asking what drew her to these sports. [00:09:09] Ken asks what Elaine’s experience on the rowing team was like. [00:11:43] Dawn mentions that Elaine graduated with her bachelors in nutritional sciences in 2002 and asks if that was her original intent when she first arrived at college. [00:13:38] Dawn asks Elaine to talk about her passion for research and how the focus of her work grew from her experiences as an athlete and coach. [00:16:14] Dawn comments that Elaine’s early experiences in genetics and nutritional sciences played a role in her career and asks what some of those early experiences were. [00:17:49] Dawn asks Elaine if it’s fair to say that she is not merely interested in biology, but in what people and researchers can do to manipulate biology in a way that can result in functional changes for broader populations. [00:19:13] Ken mentions that Elaine stayed at the University of Connecticut for her masters and doctorate degrees in kinesiology, asking why decided on that specialization. [00:21:34] Dawn mentions that Elaine went for a post-doc fellowship at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Salisbury Cove, Maine, and asks how that opportunity came about. [00:23:59] Dawn mentions that during Elaine’s post-doc, she and Dr. Kevin Strange co-authored a paper in the journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, titled “Osmosensitive gene expression in C elegans is regulated by conserved signaling mechanisms that control protein translation initiation.” Dawn goes on to mention that this paper was selected in 2012 by the Cellular and Molecular Physiology Section of the American Physiological Society as one of six finalists for its annual research recognition award. Dawn asks why this paper attracted such attention. [00:28:56] Ken mentions that Elaine was also selected as the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory’s “Outstanding Mentor of the Year” in 2012. [00:32:18] Dawn mentions that Elaine’s research over the years has focused on understanding the mechanisms of stress resiliency, and ways to improve stress resistance, adaptation and healthspan, asking how Elaine became interested in this angle of research. [00:34:00] Dawn asks Elaine to talk about her use of C elegans and why they are so useful for her research into stress and resilience. [00:38:21] Dawn mentions that Elaine’s work on the mechanisms of osmosensing and adaptation in response to osmotic st...
Our guest today is Dr. Michael Griffin, the Pentagon’s former Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. During his two and a half years as undersecretary, Mike made hypersonic weapons and defense against them his number one priority. In today’s episode, Mike talks about the history of hypersonic technology; why he made it his number one priority at the Department of Defense; and why Russia’s and China’s growing hypersonic capability represents a serious threat to America’s national security. Our interview with Mike was conducted on March 23, one month following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The weekend prior to our interview with Mike, Russia reported that it used a hypersonic missile to strike a Ukrainian military facility. This is Mike’s second appearance on STEM-Talk. He was our guest on episode 23 back in 2016 when we talked to him about his tenure as NASA Administrator from April of 2005 to January of 2009. Mike holds numerous academic degrees, including a BS in physics from Johns Hopkins, five master’s degrees, and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. In addition to serving as NASA Administrator and Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, his long career has included numerous other academic and corporate positions. Show notes [00:04:33] Dawn welcomes Mike back to the podcast, mentioning that when Mike was last on STEM-Talk in 2016, he talked about space exploration and his tenure as NASA administrator. Dawn goes on to mention that since then, Mike served a two-and-a-half-year stint as the Pentagon’s first research and engineering undersecretary, a position Congress created in 2018. Mike talks briefly about his perspectives on hypersonics research and development in the U.S. as well as in China and Russia. [00:05:36] Ken asks Mike to give a brief definition of hypersonics, given that during his time as undersecretary, he made hypersonics his top priority. [00:09:59] Ken mentions that last weekend, Russia reportedly used hypersonic weapons in Ukraine. Ken asks if Mike has any thoughts as to why the Russians are using hypersonic weapons in Ukraine as opposed to other less expensive weapons that would have sufficed from a military perspective.  Ken wonders whether the use of hypersonics was primarily for strategic messaging. [00:12:26] Ken asks Mike about his op-ed in Breaking Defense that he recently co-authored and was titled, “Rethinking the hypersonic debate for relevancy in the Pacific.” [00:15:17] Ken points out that many U.S. leaders view China as primarily a trading partner and a source of inexpensive goods rather than a power that regards the U.S. as an adversary. [00:16:49] Mike describes hypersonics in more detail and explains the implications for national security. [00:18:28] Dawn mentions that hypersonic technologies are often thought of as relatively new. Mike talks about how the first hypersonic systems were actually used during World War II by the Germans. [00:19:34] Ken explains that the aerodynamic heating that occurs at hypersonic speeds is very intense. As a result, the propulsion technology, airframe materials and thermal management involved in hypersonics is very demanding. Ken goes on to say that in the mid-1950s, this was an issue the Air Force had to overcome during its development of the Atlas Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. Ken asks Mike to discuss aerodynamic heating caused by hypersonic speeds and how it was handled with respect to the Atlas missile. [00:23:12] Ken asks about the challenges NASA faced in overcoming aerodynamic heating on the Command Module for the Apollo missions during reentry, which would reach speeds up to Mach 35. [00:23:49] Dawn explains that hypersonic weapon systems fall primarily into two classifications: air-breathing cruise missiles and hypersonic boost-glide systems. She asks Mike to give an overview of these two systems and asks if as a country we should inve...
Our guest today is Dr. Mark Mattson, who is affectionally known as the godfather of intermittent fasting. The National Institute of Health describes Mark as “one of the world’s top experts on the potential cognitive and physical health benefits of intermittent fasting.”  He is considered a leader in the area of cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal plasticity and neurodegenerative disorders and has made major contributions to understanding the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and stroke, and to their prevention and treatment. After spending nearly 30 years researching calorie restriction and intermittent fasting, Mark has written a book on the topic, “The Intermittent Fasting Revolution: The Science of Optimizing Health and Enhancing Performance.” Our interview with Mark came the day after MIT Press released his book. This is the second time Mark has appeared on STEM-Talk. When we interviewed him back in 2016, intermittent fasting didn’t register on Google’s list of top-10 searches related to diet and eating plans. By 2019, however, intermittent fasting was more widely searched on Google than any other diet. Today, intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet jockey for Google’s top spot for diet searches. We talk to Mark in this interview about how, as the title of his book suggests, we are indeed in the midst of an intermittent fasting revolution. In today’s episode, Mark walks us through our evolutionary history and how it has sculpted our brains and bodies to function optimally in a fasted state. We talk about ways our overindulgent sedentary lifestyles have negatively impacted not only our waistlines, but also the size of our brains. After describing the various ways to go about intermittent fasting, Mark dives into the science behind fasting. This leads to a fascinating discussion about the metabolic switch that transitions a person from the utilization of glucose to the utilization of fat-derived ketones and how research is showing that this switch becomes an important factor in the treatment of not only cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s, but also a range of other diseases and disorders like cancer, diabetes, inflammation, kidney, and heart disease. Mark is on the neuroscience faculty at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He recently retired from the National Institute of Aging where he led its neuroscience laboratory for the past 20 years. Show notes: [00:04:16] Dawn opens the interview congratulating Mark on his new book and asks how long it took him to write it. [00:05:09] Dawn mentions that when Mark was last on STEM-Tall in 2016, intermittent fasting was just beginning to come to the public’s attention, and that today it is almost impossible to pass a grocery store checkout counter without seeing a rack of magazine covers touting intermittent fasting. Dawn asks Mark for his thoughts about what happened in the past decade to suddenly spark so much public interest in fasting. [00:08:20] Ken mentions the title of Mark’s new book, “The Intermittent Fasting Revolution: The Science of Optimizing Health and Enhancing Performance.” Ken asks Mark to expound on the idea that we are witnessing a revolution of interest in intermittent fasting. [00:10:39] Dawn explains that the first chapter of Mark’s book begins with an overview of how evolution sculpted humans and animals to function best in a fasted state. Mark, in this section of his book, makes the point that fasting is not a diet, but an eating pattern that puts a person into a fat-burning state. Dawn asks Mark to briefly walk through this evolutionary history. [00:13:06] Ken mentions that Yuval Noah Harari, author of, “Sapiens: A Grief History of Human Kind,” has said that ancient foragers were the most knowledgeable and skillful people in history. Ken asks Mark to weigh in on Harari’s point that the size of the average brain in Homo Sapiens has actually de...
Our guest today describes the global response to COVID-19 as one of the biggest public-health fiascos in history. As you would expect, he gained quite a bit of notoriety for this contrarian view. Dr. Martin Kulldorff is an epidemiologist and biostatistician who has spent the past 30 years researching infectious diseases as well as the efficacy and safety of vaccines. He is internationally known for his statistical and epidemiological methods for the early detection and monitoring of infectious diseases. A former Harvard Medical School professor who today is the Senior Scientific Officer at the Brownstone Institute, Martin worked with the Centers for Disease Control on its current system for monitoring potential vaccine risks. Today, the U.S. and other countries around the world use Martin’s detection methods to monitor COVID-19. Martin made national headlines in October of 2020 when he and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford and Dr. Sunetra Gupta of Oxford published the Great Barrington Declaration, a paper that questions school closings, lockdowns, travel restrictions and other governmental responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The three authors recommended “focused protection” instead, a policy of protecting senior citizens and others who are most at risk of dying from COVID while allowing young people and others who face minimal risk of death to resume their normal lives. The three authors were immediately skewered for what critics called a radically dangerous approach for pandemic management. At STEM-Talk, however, we appreciate that a curious, open, and even skeptical mind is at the heart of the scientific method. Because of that, we have invited Martin to sit down with us to discuss the Great Barrington Declaration as well as his views about pandemics and the best ways to safeguard the public. We also review with Martin the age-adjusted mortality rates of states like Florida, New York and California which had quite different responses to COVID-19. Ironically, co-host Dawn Kernagis learned on the morning of our interview with Martin that she had contacted COVID. So, she has to skip today’s discussion. (Note to listeners: It was just a mild case and Dawn is already back on her feet.) But in today’s fascinating episode, Martin and host Ken Ford discuss: -- The safety of vaccines, including the coronavirus vaccines. -- Martin’s thoughts about the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children. -- The Great Barrington Declaration and the concerns it raised about the physical, mental-health and economic impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 responses. -- The effectiveness of natural immunity compared to vaccine-induced immunity. -- Whether hospitals should be hiring caregivers with natural immunity rather than firing them. -- Martin’s thoughts about Sweden, which was the only Western nation that did not impose lockdowns or close its schools and daycare centers in response to COVID-19. -- What age-adjusted COVID mortality rates for the U.S. have to say about the different approaches states used in response to the pandemic. Show notes: [00:05:20] Ken opens the interview mentioning that Martin was born in Lund in 1962 in southern Sweden, but grew up in Umea, a university town in northeast Sweden. Ken asks what prompted Martin’s family to move to Umea when he was two years old. [00:05:47] Ken mentions as an aside that he once spent an enjoyable week at the University of Umea visiting Lars-Erick Janlert.  Ken served as the external expert for a PhD dissertation. [00:07:00] Ken asks Martin what he was like as a child. [00:07:32] Ken asks what drew Martin to math, and if it came naturally to him. [00:08:15] Martin talks about his decision to attend Umea University and major in mathematical statistics. [00:09:09] Ken asks why Martin moved to the United States and to attend Cornell University as a Fullbright Fellow for his postgraduate studies, and why he decided to earn his Ph.D.
Our guest today is Dr. Christopher Logothetis, one of the nation’s foremost experts on prostate cancer. Chris has spent nearly five decades at MD Anderson in Houston developing therapies for prostate cancer as well as conducting research into the underlying biology of the disease. Aside from skin cancers, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, claiming a man’s life every 15 minutes in the United States, according to the Prostrate Cancer Foundation. Since the 1970s when Chris joined the staff at MD Andersen, which is the nation’s top-ranked hospital for cancer care, he has been dedicated to the treatment, research, and prevention of genitourinary cancers such bladder, kidney, testes and penis cancer. For the past 25 years, he has focused primarily on prostate cancer and the development of effective chemotherapy treatments. Today, Chris is the director of MD Anderson’s Genitourinary Cancer Center and the director of the Prostate Cancer Research Program. Show notes: [00:03:23] Dawn opens the interview mentioning that Chris went to medical school in Greece and asks if he grew up there as well. [00:03:43] Ken asks Chris when he first became interested in science. [00:04:09] Dawn asks if there were a particular teacher or class that prompted Chris’ decision to pursue medicine. [00:04:39] Dawn asks what led Chris to attend the University of Athens School of Medicine. [00:05:10] Dawn mentions that in the ‘60s and ‘70s, talking about cancer was almost taboo and asks Chris to talk about the stigma that surrounded cancer for quite some time. [00:05:57] Ken asks if Chris knew he wanted to specialize in cancers when he first started medical school in Athens or if that interest developed later. [00:07:06] Dawn mentions that Chris graduated from medical school in 1974 and then took off for Chicago where he had an internship at Cook County Hospital. Dawn asks about the experience, and if it were a culture shock to go from Athens, Greece to Chicago in the 1970s. [00:08:54] Dawn asks what took Chris to Texas and MD Anderson after his time in Chicago. [00:09:36] Dawn mentions that after Chris finished his fellowship, he joined the faculty at MD Anderson, and is now coming upon his 50th anniversary there. [00:09:51] Chris explains his view that we need to better understand the drivers of cancer and goes on to talk about what we currently know about these drivers. [00:12:06] Ken asks about the significance of the Human Genome Project on cancer research. [00:13:49] Dawn mentions that along with new technologies, there evolved a strategy of what is called co-clinical investigation where researchers study the mouse, but in parallel look at the difference and similarities with humans. She asks him about how that integrated data required a new language to bring it all together, which is now known as Prometheus. Dawn asks Chris to talk about Prometheus and how this has led to an accelerated understanding of cancer biology. [00:20:47] Dawn mentions that Chris has studied a range of genitourinary cancers throughout his career, such as germ cell tumors, bladder, and renal cancers, but that his interest in prostate cancer is a more recent development. Dawn asks what led to this specific interest. [00:23:12] Dawn explains that metastatic cancer was first cured in 1956 when methotrexate was used to treat a rare tumor called choriocarcinoma. She goes on to say that since then, chemotherapy drugs have been used to treat mixed germ-cell tumors and has led to dramatically improved survivorship among patients with metastatic germ-cell tumors. She also mentions that in 1982 Chris published a paper in the journal Cancer titled, “The growing teratoma syndrome,” at which time, tumor growth following chemotherapy for mixed germ-cell tumors had been considered a reliable indicator of a persistent active carcinoma, with the rule being that if the cancer didn’t respond to treatment that operations were fu...
Our guest today is Dr. Josh Turknett, the author of “The Migraine Miracle” and “Keto for Migraine,” two books that have helped thousands of people use a holistic approach to end their chronic migraines. Josh is often referred to as “public enemy number one to migraines” everywhere. He is a neurologist, musician, author, and entrepreneur. He has more than two decades of experience in the field of cognitive and behavioral neuroscience. Josh practices medicine in Atlanta at the Turknett Center for Neurology and Cognitive Enhancement. In today’s episode, we talk to Josh about his own history with migraines and how migraine is a common and complex neurological disorder that includes a genetic component. Josh earned a bachelor’s degree in cognitive neuroscience from Wesleyan University, an M.D. from Emory University, and completed his residency training at the University of Florida. In addition to his medical practice, Josh also is the founder of Brainjo, a company that creates educational resources that utilize a system of instruction based on the science of learning and neuroplasticity. He’s a musician who plays in the band The Georgia Jays and teaches people to play the clawhammer banjo, fingerstyle banjo, fiddle and ukulele. As if he didn’t have enough to do, Josh also is the president of Physicians for Ancestral Health and the chief medical officer for humanOS, which was recently acquired by Restore Hyper Wellness. Josh also is the host of the Intelligence Unshackled podcast, which explores the many ways that human potential is constrained and how people can go about optimizing it. Show notes: [00:03:22] Dawn opens the interview asking Josh about his mother’s struggles with migraines. [00:04:59] Dawn asks Josh how old he was when he first started having migraines. [00:06:15] Ken asks Josh how he first became interested in science. [00:08:24] Dawn asks Josh how he ended up in the Connecticut at Wesleyan University for his undergraduate degree. [00:09:35] Ken asks if Josh knew he wanted to major in neuroscience when he first arrived at Wesleyan or if that was a later decision. [00:10:49] Dawn asks if it is true that Josh’s girlfriend at the time played a role in his decision to move back to Atlanta to go to medical school at Emory after his undergrad. [00:11:55] Dawn asks what motivated Josh to attend the University of Florida for his residency after being a lifelong Gator-hater. [00:14:39] Ken mentions that despite all the hype around neuroscience when the field was emerging, the last major breakthrough in neurology was in the ‘90s with the discovery of triptan drugs for migraines. Ken asks if we have made any major neurological advances since then, and if not, why? [00:17:41] Ken asks Josh what he would suggest to today’s neurology residents and neuroscience graduate students who might want to avoid the recent failures of the modern approaches to treating neurological disease. [00:19:57] Dawn explains that a migraine is a complex neurological disorder affecting 15 to 20 percent of the population, with many subtypes including a genetic component. Dawn asks Josh what is currently understood about the genetic component of migraines. [00:21:28] Ken asks Josh at what point in his career did he decide to specialize in migraines. [00:23:17] Dawn asks Josh to explain to people who have not suffered from migraines what it feels like to experience a cascade of symptoms such as numbness, tingling, visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, and blinding headaches. [00:25:15] Ken asks Josh what the difference is between cluster headaches and migraines. [00:26:49] Dawn mentions that people can start to feel the onset of a migraine 48 hours before the pain sets in, a phase called the prodrome. Josh explains what the prodrome is and what its symptoms are. [00:28:03] Dawn mentions the fact that the pain of a migraine is preceded by an aura,
Our guest today is Dr. Morley Stone, the former Chief Technology Officer for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and former Senior Vice President for Research at Ohio State University, who is now IHMC’s Chief Strategic Partnership Officer. Morley is recognized as an international leader in biomimetics and human performance. In today’s interview, we talk to Morley about his time as AFRL’s chief technology officer as well as his stint as the chief scientist for the Air Force’s 711th Human Performance Wing, which is responsible for providing technical oversight of projects geared to optimize human performance for the nation’s air, space, and cyberspace forces. We also have a fascinating conversation with Morley about his early career and research into biomimetics, which is the study of using biological structures, materials and principles as models for the development of new materials, structures, and devices. In his new role at IHMC, Morley will become the institute’s point person for public- and private-sector partnerships. He also will work with IHMC’s scientists and research staff to help coordinate and implement the multitude of scientific projects the institute has in its pipeline. Show notes: [00:03:07] Dawn mentions that Morley grew up in a small steel producing town in Pennsylvania and asks him what he was like as a kid. [00:03:56] Ken asks Morley about his days as wrestler growing up and why he still today views wrestling as a special sport. [00:05:00] Dawn asks about Morley’s move to Dayton, Ohio, when he was 17. [00:05:36] Dawn asks how Morley decided upon Wright State as opposed to the University of Dayton. [00:05:57] Morley tells the story of how a girl in college pointed out an ad for an internship and how that helped him decide to become a biochemistry major. [00:06:43] Dawn asks what happened to the girl who pointed out the aforementioned ad. [00:08:28] Ken asks Morley to talk about the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) and the role of the lab’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate. [00:09:53] Dawn mentions that after earning his bachelor’s degree, Morley had a short stint as a materials research engineer at the directorate before heading off to Carnegie Mellon University to work on a Ph.D. in biochemistry. Dawn asks why Morley chose to attend Carnegie Mellon. [00:11:08] Dawn mentions that in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Morley had the good fortune to work with scientists who had the foresight to know that there was going to be a radical change in material science, which up until that point had been dominated by metals and ceramics. Morley talks about the most important lessons he learned from these colleagues and mentors. [00:12:41] Dawn asks about Morley’s time as a research biologist, and eventually principal research biologist, at the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate after his Ph.D. [00:14:41] Ken asks Morley to explain biomimetics and discuss the systems that Morley and his colleagues looked at during his time at the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, ranging from infrared sensing to instances of biological camouflage. [00:18:01] Dawn mentions that the creation of nanoscale materials for advanced structures has led to a growing interest in the area of biomineralization, she goes on to say that during Morley’s time at the directorate, he especially researched the process of biomineralization and the assembly of nanostructured inorganic components into hierarchical structures, which led to the development of a variety of approaches that mimic the recognition and nucleation capabilities found in biomolecules for inorganic material synthesis. Morley discusses his 2002 paper in Nature Materials where he described the in vitro biosynthesis of silver nanoparticles using silver-binding peptides. [00:21:20] Dawn asks about Morley’s 2004 paper in Advanced Materials where he and his colleagues had taken a protein that was responsible for thermal sensi...
In today’s episode, Dr. Tommy Wood returns for his fifth appearance on STEM-Talk. Tommy is a UK-trained physician and an assistant research professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington. He also is a visiting research scientist and a valued colleague of ours here at IHMC. Today’s interview focuses on a new paper that Tommy just had published by the American Society for Microbiology. It’s titled, “Reframing Nutritional Microbiota Studies To Reflect an Inherent Metabolic Flexibility of the Human Gut: A Narrative Review Focusing on High-Fat Diets.” We discuss the paper and follow up on some research Tommy has done since his last appearance on STEM-Talk, a two-part interview that took place a little more than a year ago. In that two-part interview, episodes 110 and 111, we touched on Tommy’s research into the importance of metabolic health and how only one in eight Americans is considered metabolically healthy. We also talk to Tommy about a new grant he just received to examine the effects of azithromycin on premature brain injury in a ferret model. As part of this grant, Tommy will be collaborating with his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Nance, who also is an assistant professor at the University of Washington and was our guest on episode 71 of STEM-Talk. Show notes: [00:03:15] Dawn opens the interview mentioning Tommy’s new paper published by the American Society for Microbiology titled “Reframing Nutritional Microbiota Studies to Reflect an Inherent Metabolic Flexibility of the Human Gut: A Narrative Review Focusing on High-Fat Diets.” Dawn mentions that in our last interview with Tommy, he talked about the importance of insulin sensitivity and metabolic health, yet as Tommy has pointed out, more than 80 percent of Americans have some kind of metabolic disease or dysfunction. Given that, Dawn asks Tommy to revisit key points regarding insulin resistance; the importance of metabolic health; and why so many Americans struggle with this issue. [00:06:18] Ken points out that the common view held in much of the nutritional-microbiota research is that high-fat diets are harmful to human health, at least in part through their modulation of the gut microbiota. Ken goes on to say that there are a number of studies that support the inherent flexibility of the human gut and our microbiota’s ability to adapt to a variety of food sources, suggesting a more nuanced picture than the commonly held view. Ken asks Tommy to give an overview of the gut microbiome and how research in the past decade has explored the effects of the gut microbiome on our metabolism, immune systems, our sleep, and our moods and cognition. [00:09:50] Dawn asks Tommy to explain the history of how fat, and high-fat diets, became public enemy number one in many circles, including gut microbiome research. [00:12:46] Ken mentions that there are many limitations when it comes to preclinical nutritional research, with many studies on the role of fat in the diet being based on animal models, particularly rat models, which presents several problems since the natural diet of a mouse is low in fat and high in carbohydrates. [00:15:50] Ken asks Tommy about the need for a more nuanced view of fat and our microbiota’s ability to adapt to different food sources. [00:17:33] Ken points out that while people might throw around the term “healthy gut microbiota,” the research into the gut microbiota is so new that we don’t yet know for sure what a healthy gut microbiota should look like. [00:21:22] Ken asks Tommy how we should go about reframing the debate about fat and high-fat diets to better reflect the overall evidence. [00:23:48] Dawn mentions that in the past decade, researchers have significantly improved our understanding of the gut microbiome. She asks about Tommy’s belief that there is a need to understand the gut microbiome in an evolutionary context as well. [00:25:18] Tommy gives an overview of the gut-barrier function and its role in ...
It’s time for another Ask Me Anything episode. In today’s show, Ken and Dawn tackle a wide range of listener questions about: -- Protein intake on a ketogenic diet. -- A new study on the efficacy and safety of MDMA-assisted therapy. -- The Pentagon’s new report about UFOs. -- Virta Health’s two-year pilot study that demonstrated people diagnosed with prediabetes had normalized their glucose through carbohydrate restriction. -- The FDA’s controversial approval of the Biogen Alzheimer’s disease drug Aduhelm. -- The deepest man-made pool and diving research facility that just opened in Dubai. -- Strategies to deal with the so-called “keto flu.” -- And a lot more. Enjoy. 00:02:49 A listener asks Ken about protein intake on a ketogenic diet. The listener says they have heard some experts say that protein intake should be fairly low on a ketogenic diet while other experts suggest protein needs might actually be higher than what is generally recommended. The listener, who is physically active and on a ketogenic diet but isn’t seeing much muscle growth, asks Ken what the research says about what proper levels of protein on a ketogenic diet. 00:05:05 A listener asks Ken about STEM-Talk’s interview with Gordon Lithgow, episode 120 of STEM-Talk, mentioning that Ken and Gordon referenced arginine AKG, a supplement often used by athletes and bodybuilders to improve their performance and reduce muscle fatigue. The listener asks if arginine AKG, or calcium AKG, or something else can help them recover from exercise as they get older. In his response, Ken discusses a 2017 meta-analysis by Robert Wolfe. Ken also mentions two essential amino acid blends, MAP Master Amino Acid Pattern. The other blend is called Mass Pro Synthagen. 00:12:09 A listener mentions in their question that there is a new study that just came out in Nature Medicine looking at the efficacy and safety of MDMA-assisted therapy for people diagnosed with severe PTSD. Nearly 70 percent of the participants who received MDMA therapy no longer qualified for a diagnosis of PTSD after two months of treatment. The listener asks Ken and Dawn if they have read this study and what their thoughts are. Ken in his response mentions two STEM-Talk episodes that touched on MDMA-assisted therapy, David Rabin in Episode 99 and Rachel Yehuda in episode 101. 00:14:37]A listener asks Ken what the justification for spending almost $3 billion on the Perseverance Mars mission is, going on to ask with all the needs here on Earth, how does NASA and Congress justify the billions that will be needed for a manned mission to Mars. 00:19:06 A listener asks how Dawn’s research on glymphatic function in extreme environments is going. 00:22:31 A listener asks Kens for his thoughts on the recent media coverage of the Pentagon’s new report on more 100 UFOs, or “unidentified aerial phenomena,” that the Pentagon cannot explain. 00:25:49 A listener mentions that Virta Health is wrapping up its data collection of a five-year trial that looks at nutritional ketosis as a treatment for type-2 diabetes and prediabetes. Virta recently published the results of its two-year pilot study that demonstrated people diagnosed with prediabetes had normalized their glucose in the blood through carbohydrate restriction. The listener asks Ken to comment on this two-year pilot study since Ken is affiliated with Virta. In his response, Ken mentions Amy McKenzie’s 2021 paper. 00:27:17 A listener asks Ken about the controversial FDA approval of the Biogen Alzheimer’s disease drug Aduhelm. Despite murky clinical trial results, the drug was fast-tracked, even though it will cost a person $56,000 annually. 00:30:57 A listener asks Dawn, given her diving background, about the deepest man-made pool and diving research facility that just opened in Dubai. 00:33:44 A listener asks Ken about a study that ran in JAMA that found that fasting for 12 hours or more led to minimal weight loss and significant ...
Our guest today is Dr. Christoffer Clemmensen, an associate professor and lead researcher at the University of Copenhagen’s Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research. Christoffer’s lab at the university explores pharmacological and therapeutic treatments for obesity and its related diseases and disorders. He and his colleagues focus on dissecting the neuroendocrine signals involved in coordinating appetite, food-motivated behavior, energy expenditure, glycemic control, and lipid metabolism. We have a fascinating discussion with Christoffer about his lab’s efforts to turn molecular and physiological insights into innovative therapeutic strategies that Christoffer hopes someday can reduce obesity and its associated metabolic disorders. Christoffer is a native of Denmark who earned his Ph.D. in Molecular Pharmacology from the University of Copenhagen in 2013. Joining Ken for today’s interview is IHMC colleague and senior research scientist Dr. Marcas Bamman, who was our guest on episode 116. Marcas is the founder and former director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for Exercise Medicine.  Marcas joined IHMC last year as a Senior Research Scientist. Show notes: [00:03:24] Marcas asks Christoffer about growing up in a small rural town in Denmark in the 1980s and ‘90s. [00:04:05] Christoffer’s talks about his days as an elite tennis player when he was a youth. [00:04:41] Ken asks Christoffer when he first became interested in science. [00:05:48] Marcas asks Christoffer what changed his mind about wanting to study computer science at university. [00:07:04] Christoffer explains how he decided to attend University of Copenhagen. [00:08:19] Marcas mentions that Christoffer’s original focus at university was on exercise biology, but that he became fascinated by the mechanisms of obesity and that interest took him in a new direction. Marcas asks how that shift in interest came about. [00:10:01] Marcas follows up on the previous question and asks if there were a particular instance that persuaded Christoffer to switch from focusing on exercise to focusing more on weight control and obesity. [00:10:40] Ken asks what led Christopher to pursue a Ph.D. in molecular pharmacology after attaining a bachelor’s degree in exercise biology and a master’s degree in human biology. [00:12:11] Marcas asks Christoffer why he went to Munich, Germany, as a postdoctoral fellow at the Helmholtz Diabetes Center after completing his post-doc at the University of Copenhagen. [00:14:00] After mentioning that Christoffer eventually became the group leader at Helmholtz, Ken asks Christoffer why he then transitioned back to the University of Copenhagen. [00:14:52] Marcas asks Christopher to talk about the big questions that get to the heart of his research. [00:16:20] Ken mentions that Christoffer is now an associate professor at the Nova Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research at the University of Copenhagen, where he is the head of the Clemmensen Group. Ken goes on to mention that the Clemmensen Group’s website says the lab focuses on dissecting the neuroendocrine signals that coordinate appetite regulation, food-motivated behavior, energy expenditure, glycemic control, and lipid metabolism. Ken asks if Christoffer could give an overview of what all these research focuses entail. [00:18:17] Marcas mentions that obesity and its related diseases, such as type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, have become serious problems affecting the world’s public health and global economy. Marcas goes on to say that Christoffer’s 2019 paper titled “Emerging hormonal-based combination pharmacotherapies for the treatment of metabolic diseases” makes the observation that the treatments we have been using to deal with this problem have not been able to effectively reverse the staggering rates of obesity we’re witnessing around the world.
Today we have the second part of our interview with science and health journalist Gary Taubes. In the first part of our interview, episode 124, we talked to Gary about his new book “The Case For Keto: Rethinking Weight Control and the Science and Practice of Low-Carb/High-Fat Eating.” In today’s episode, we talk in detail about a growing body of research and evidence that demonstrates the health benefits and safety of ketogenic diets. We also address why there remains stubborn resistance to low-carb/high fat diets in some nutrition circles. Plus, Gary responds to common arguments used against the ketogenic diet, ranging from health and safety and climate change to claims that ketogenic diets don’t work for women. Gary turned to journalism back in the 1970s after receiving his master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Stanford University. Today, he continues to practice journalism and is the founder and director of the Nutrition Science Initiative. Be sure to check out part one of our interview, as well as our 2016 interview with Gary which followed the release of his New York Times best-seller “The Case Against Sugar.” Show notes: 00:02:58 Ken starts part two of our interview with Gary by mentioning that there is now substantial evidence supporting the efficacy and safety of low-carb diets. Ken mentions more and more physicians are prescribing this way of eating to their patients and large numbers of people are having success losing weight and managing type-2 diabetes using ketogenic diets. In light of that information, Ken asks Gary for his thoughts on why the U.S. News and World Report annual diet ranking stubbornly continues to describe the ketogenic diet as a detrimental way to eat. 00:09:25 Ken asks Gary to respond to some of the common arguments against the ketogenic diet ranging from human health and safety to climate change. 00:12:50 Ken asks about the claim that people on a ketogenic diet might lose a lot of weight in the short term but gain that weight back in the long term. 00:13:56 Gary tackles the criticism that ketogenic diets do not work for women. 00:16:02 Ken asks Gary to address concerns about the supposed unsustainability of ketogenic diets, noting how it is possible some people might have difficulty maintaining the diet for long periods of time. 00:19:20 Ken supposes that perhaps some of the anxiety surrounding a low-carb/high-fat diet has to do with LDL cholesterol. Ken mentions that some people on the diet, often referred to as hyper-responders, experience elevated levels of LDL and are warned by their physicians that this increases risk for heart disease. Ken asks Gary what he thinks the road forward should be for hyper-responders and others who are anxious about their LDL levels. 00:28:55 Dawn mentions that in 2018, Lancet published a study that aimed to make sense of the increasingly crowded world of low-carb diets. The authors, a team from Harvard, studied more than 15,000 American adults (aged 45-64) from four different communities over a 25-year period using dietary questionnaires. Dawn goes on to explain how these questionnaires revealed that consumers of both extremely low-carb diets and extremely high-carb diets had higher death rates over the course of the study. The lead author of this study was quoted as saying, “Our findings add to the growing evidence that animal-based low-carbohydrate diets are associated with increased mortality and therefore should be discouraged in the long term.” The last line of the paper reads, “Alternatively, when restricting carbohydrate intake, replacement of carbohydrates with predominately plant-based fats and proteins could be considered as a long-term approach to promote healthy aging.” News outlets described this paper as “the most comprehensive study of carbohydrate intake done to date.” She asks Gary to respond to this study and its conclusions. 00:39:31 Dawn asks what Gary’s ideal study design would look like to...
Today we have journalist Gary Taubes making a repeat appearance on STEM-Talk to discuss his new book, “The Case for Keto: Rethinking Weight Control and the Science and Practice of Low-Carb/High-Fat Eating.” Our interview with Gary in 2016, episode 37, followed the release of his book, “The Case Against Sugar,” which went on to become a New York Times best seller. “The Case for Keto” is Gary’s fourth book about diet and chronic disease. Gary made national headlines in 2002 when he wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine challenging the low-fat orthodoxy that had held sway in America since the 1970s. In the article, titled “What if It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie,” Gary wrote that perhaps Dr. Robert Atkins with his Atkins Diet was correct in suggesting that it’s not fat that makes us fat, but carbohydrates. Our conversation with Gary covered a lot of ground, and we have divided his interview into two parts. Today we talk to Gary about his reasons for writing the new book and how opinions on a low-carb and high-fat diet have changed over the past 20 years. In part two of our interview with Gary, we dig deeper into his efforts to set the record straight about the role of diet and weight control in preventing chronic diseases, as well as the role that diet plays in helping people improve their health spans. Gary turned to journalism back in the 1970s after receiving his master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Stanford University. Today, he continues to practice journalism and is the founder and director of the Nutrition Science Initiative. Show notes: 00:03:43 Dawn welcomes Gary back to STEM-Talk and asks how things went for him as a writer during COVID-19 and the lockdowns. 00:04:24 Dawn gives some background on Gary’s new book The Case for Keto, which is his fourth book to follow and expand upon a 2002 article he wrote for the New Times Magazine titled, “What if It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?” She asks Gary if he ever anticipated writing four books about the relationship between diet and chronic disease when the article came out 20 years ago. 00:06:09 Ken mentions that Gary’s New York Times Magazine article questioned the effectiveness of low-fat diets, which the government’s dietary guidelines had been recommending since the late 1970s. Ken adds that almost overnight Gary become public health enemy number one, and asks Gary if he expected so much pushback as a result of the article. 00:10:53 Dawn describes how the release of Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma, which draws on work by both Gary and Dr. Atkins, seemed to change consumers’ eating habits. Dawn then asks Gary if he remembers seeing or being surprised by the disappearance of pasta and bread from restaurants and grocery shelves. 00:14:41 Ken notes that in the blurb Michael Pollan wrote for the jacket of Gary’s 2007 book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, Michael said the book would change the way people think about eating. While Gary’s work did not end up changing national heart, health and diet guidelines, low-carb and ketogenic diets have become quite popular since then. Ken asks Gary what he thinks is driving this interest in keto. 00:19:41 Dawn describes Gary’s 2011 best seller Why We Get Fat as a condensed summary of the research contained in Good Calories, Bad Calories combined with new research on hormonal-based weight gain. She mentions Gary’s argument that the medical community and the federal government has misinterpreted scientific data on nutrition over the past several decades in developing a U.S. food policy that recommends a low-fat diet. Dawn notes there has recently been a steady accumulation of studies supporting carbohydrate restriction and the safety of saturated fat since Gary’s first two books came out. She asks Gary if this trend has been rewarding to watch. 00:22:47 Ken mentions that Gary’s new book, The Case for Keto, is an attempt to rectify decades-old misunderstandings people have had ab...
Episode 123 Steve Chien talks about AI, Mars rovers, and the possibility of intelligent alien life Today’s interview is with Dr. Steve Chien.  Dr. Chien is JPL Fellow, Senior Research Scientist, and Technical Group Supervisor of the Artificial Intelligence Group and in the Mission Planning and Execution Section at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. In 2018, Steve and Ken were appointed to the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, an independent commission tasked with providing the President and Congress a blueprint for advancing AI and associated technologies to address future national security and defense needs of the United States. The commission recently released a 756-page reportwhich found that the nation is unprepared to compete in a future enabled by AI and that the U.S. could soon be replaced as the world’s AI superpower. The report was two years in the making and offers strategies and recommendations to strengthen and protect the nation’s economy, technology base, and national security. In today’s podcast, we talk to Steve about the report and what he learned over the past two years serving on the commission. Steve heads up the Artificial Intelligence Group at JPL.  JPL is the lead for deep space robotic exploration for NASA. For the past several years, he has worked on the Perseverance Rover mission, which landed on Mars back in February and used an automated ground-based scheduling system called Copilot that Steve and his JPL colleagues developed. Steve joined JPL more than 30 years ago and last year was named a JPL Fellow, an honor that recognizes people who have made extraordinary technical and institutional contributions to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory over an extended period. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he earned a doctorate in computer science. Show notes: 00:04:09 Dawn opens the interview welcoming Steve to the show and asking about his background. Dawn mentions that Steve grew up in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, where he enjoyed basketball, Dungeons and Dragons and attempting to reinvent Decision Theory. 00:05:33 Dawn asks how Steve ended up as a computer science major rather than an economics major. 00:07:01 Dawn asks Steve if it is true that he graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in computer science at the age of 19. 00:07:41 Dawn asks Steve what he did after attaining his Ph.D. 00:09:18 Ken asks Steve to describe his interest in the search for life beyond earth. 00:11:0 Ken mentions that Pascal Lee, a planetary scientist from NASA Ames Research Center, recently discussed the search for intelligent life in our galaxy on STEM-Talk, episode 121. Ken explains that the discussion centered around the Drake Equation, which was developed to produce a probabilistic estimate of the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy, with Pascal’s conclusion being that the solution to the Drake Equation is likely N = 1. Ken asks Steve about his thoughts on the likelihood of intelligent life in our galaxy. 00:14:23 Dawn mentions that the Perseverance rover is currently maneuvering across the surface of Mars. She asks Steve, as the head of the Artificial Intelligence Group at JPL, NASA’s lead for deep-space robotic exploration, if he could talk about the work he specifically did on the Perseverance rover including the rover’s scheduling system. 00:16:38 Ken mentions that the success of the Perseverance mission so far has rekindled discussions of sending humans to Mars. Ken asks what Steve’s thoughts are on Pascal Lee’s proposal to take a measured approach to sending humans to Mars and that we should first return to the Moon. 00:18:47 Dawn asks Steve about the purpose of the 756-page report by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence that Ken and Steve worked on for more two years.
In today’s episode, we talk about zombie cells, a term used to describe senescent cells because of their refusal to die. Our guest on this topic is Dr. James Kirkland, a geriatrics specialist and researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who is known for his research into the role that senescence and senescent cells have on age-related dysfunction and chronic disease. As senescent cells build up in the body, they promote cellular aging and a host of chronic conditions related to aging, such as dementia, cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes and arthritis. In today’s interview, we focus on Jim’s 2015 study where he and his colleagues at Mayo were the first to report on the potential of senolytic drugs to selectively kill zombie senescent cells. Jim’s paper in Aging Cell has been hailed as a major breakthrough in aging research. Jim is the director of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center of Aging at Mayo and the president of the American Federation for Aging Research. The goal of James’ lab and research is to develop methods to remove senescent cells to delay, prevent, alleviate or partially reverse age-related chronic diseases.  Jim and his colleagues believe that doing this will help extend people’s health span, and, more important, prolong the period of life where people can live free of disabilities caused by chronic disease. Show notes: 00:03:20 Jim starts the interview talking about growing up in Canada. 00:03:31 Dawn asks him when he became interested in science. 00:04:05 Ken mentions that he understands that Jim had an interest in becoming a physician at a very early age, and given Jim’s previous comments, asks if it was Jim’s childhood observations of his grandparents’ aging that drove his interest in geriatrics. 00:04:39 Dawn asks how Jim ended up at the University of Toronto. 00:04:51 Dawn mentions that Jim received his medical degree in 1977 and completed his residency at Toronto General Hospital. Dawn goes on to ask why, after this, did Jim decide to go overseas to study at the University of Manchester. 00:05:37 Dawn mentions that after Jim’s experience in Manchester, he moved back across the Atlantic to work at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he mainly studied adipose tissue. 00:06:11 Dawn asks what role Jim’s research at NIH played in his Ph.D., which he earned from the University of Toronto in 1990. 00:07:19 Dawn mentions that in 2007 Jim became the director of the Kogod Center on Aging at the Mayo Clinic and asks how Jim ended up at that position. 00:07:54 Dawn asks Jim to clarify the difference between lifespan and healthspan. 00:09:26 Ken mentions that Jim’s research throughout his career has focused on cellular aging and senescent cells. Ken asks what initially triggered Jim’s interest in senescence. 00:11:42 Dawn mentions Jim’s 2015 paper in Aging Cell, where Jim and his colleagues at the Mayo Clinic were the first to report on the potential of senolytic drugs, which selectively kill senescent cells. Dawn goes on to ask Jim about his research leading up to this breakthrough paper. 00:14:47 Dawn asks Jim to talk about two senolytic compounds that he and his colleagues identified called dasatinid and quercetin, and what the significance of their discovery is. 00:17:20 Ken mentions the senolytic agent called fisetin, which is another agent showing benefit in rodent studies and is now being used in human clinical trials. Ken mentions that some authors have described fisetin as having roughly twice the senolytic potency as quercetin. Ken asks Jim to explain where fisetin fits into the senolytic landscape. 00:19:18 Dawn mentions that Jim began his aforementioned 2015 paper by writing about how the research shows that the healthspan of mice is enhanced by killing senescent cells using a transgenic suicide gene. Jim goes on in that paper describing how a series of experiments by he and his colleagues demonstrated the efficacy of senolytics t...
It has been nearly a month since NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars. So far, the rover hasn’t detected any signs of past life on the planet. But scientists have determined that several of the rocks on Mars are chemically similar to volcanic rocks on Earth. This, of course, has caused quite a bit of buzz. So, the double-secret-selection committee decided it was a perfect time to invite the chairman of the Mars Institute onto the show to get his take on the Perseverance and the Mars Mission so far. Actually, this is Dr. Pascal Lee’s second appearance on STEM-Talk. Pascal is a planetary scientist and director of the NASA Haughton-Mars Project at NASA Ames Research Center who was our guest in 2016 on episode 17.  Back then we talked to Pascal about his annual visits to the High Arctic’s Devon Island, which is the Earth’s largest uninhabited land that has geological characteristics similar to what scientists believe we will find on Mars. Today we catch up with Pascal and his Haughton-Mars Project. We also talk to him about Perseverance and a host of other Mars-related topics. We ask Pascal if he thinks we’ll find signs of life on Mars, or if he believes we will ever find signs of alien life in our galaxy. We also get Pascal’s thoughts about future manned missions to Mars and whether humans will ever colonize the Red Planet. And after listening to today’s interview, be sure to check out Pascal’s artwork and his recent paintings of Mars. Show notes: 00:03:15 Dawn opens the interview welcoming Pascal back to STEM-Talk, mentioning that the last time he was on the podcast he was about to spend his 20th consecutive summer on Devon Island, the Earth’s largest uninhabited land with geological characteristics similar to what Pascal believes we will find on Mars. Dawn goes on to mention that due to COVID-19, last year’s trip to Devon Island was canceled and asks him about his disappointment. 00:05:11 Ken asks if Pascal is confident that he’ll return to Devon Island this coming summer. 00:05:36 Dawn mentions that it takes several stops and trips to reach Devon Island. She asks who makes those travel arrangements and how the journey plays out. 00:08:25 Ken asks about Pascal’s polar bear guard dog, Apollo, inquiring as the protocol when Apollo alerts the team about a nearby polar bear. 00:10:48 Dawn mentions the Webby Award-winning documentary filmed by a team at Google who came to visit Pascal on Devon Island in 2018 called “Mars on Earth: A Visit to Devon Island”. Dawn asks Pascal what he thought of the documentary. 00:12:20 Ken asks Pascal to elaborate on the space suit that he was planning to test on Devon Island last summer but couldn’t because the trip was canceled. 00:16:39 Dawn asks about the glove Pascal wants to test that may enable single-handed drone operation. 00:20:11 Dawn mentions that the atmosphere of Mars is around 60 times less dense than the Earth’s. She asks Pascal about the challenges of flying a drone on Mars. 00:22:15 Dawn asks Pascal to elaborate on his recommendation that scientists study the Inuit culture and history in relation to long-duration space travel. 00:26:01 Ken mentions NASA’s Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars in February and relates that Steve Jurczyk, the NASA acting administrator, described Perseverance’s landing on Mars as a pivotal moment for the United States and space exploration. Given that NASA has landed rovers on Mars before, Ken asks Pascal what makes this particular landing especially significant. 00:28:10 Dawn mentions that NASA recently released recordings of the Perseverance rover driving on the surface of Mars. Dawn goes on to ask what the particular significance is of the audios. 00:29:41 Dawn asks what NASA means when it describes Perseverance as a “robotic astrobiologist.” 00:32:36 Ken asks Pascal to discuss the Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, that made its flight to mars attached to the belly of Perseverance.
Ever since Cell Metabolism published a study that found the naturally occurring metabolite alpha-ketoglutarate reduces inflammatory signaling as well as chronic inflammation, listeners have been asking Ken and Dawn for their take on the paper. Today, we have the author of the paper, Dr. Gordon Lithgow, as our guest on STEM-Talk. We talk with Gordon in-depth about his study and the potential of alpha-ketoglutarate to have positive effects on lifespan and healthspan. Gordon is a professor and vice president of Academic Affairs at the Buck Institute in Novato, California, where his research focuses on uncovering genes and small molecules that prolong lifespan through enhanced molecular stability. Today we cover Gordon’s research into alpha-ketoglutarate in the second part of a two-part interview. In part one, episode 119, we asked Gordon about his fascination with C elegans, a microscopic worm that Gordon and other geneticists study and often use for their research. He particularly covered two of his studies involving C elgans: one that looked at the role that protein homeostasis plays in aging;  and another study that found vitamin D3 improves protein homeostasis and slows aging. A native of Scotland, Gordon researched the biology of aging at the University of Manchester in England before moving to the Buck Institute in 2000. Gordon is married to Dr. Julie Andersen, who was our guest on episodes 117 and 118 and who also is a researcher at the Buck Institute. Show notes: 00:03:20 Dawn opens part two of our interview with Gordon by mentioning his most recent paper on alpha-ketoglutarate, which has generated a lot of buzz. This study suggests there is a metabolite that one can buy in a health food store that may have a positive effect on lifespan as well as healthspan. Dawn goes on to mention that alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG), is a naturally occurring metabolite. She notes that previous studies on it have shown that blood plasma levels of AKG can drop up to 10-fold as we age. Dawn asks Gordon to explain what AKG is and how it is involved in so many of our fundamental physiological processes. 00:07:41 Ken mentions that in the study, Gordon fed the mice calcium AKG. Ken asks why Gordon chose calcium AKG as opposed to arginine AKG, which is a dietary supplement often used by athletes and bodybuilders to improve their performance and reduce muscle fatigue. 00:09:22 Dawn mentions that when Gordon’s paper came out in Cell Metabolism, Gordon was quoted as saying, “The nightmare scenario has always been life extension with no reduction in disability.” Dawn goes on to state that this study showed that the middle-aged mice who were treated got healthier over time, and that even the mice that died early saw improvements in their health. Dawn asks Gordon to elaborate on this apparent extension in healthspan. 00:12:41 Dawn asks Gordon about the significance of the finding in his study that calcium AKG reduced inflammatory signaling, as well as chronic inflammation, as it relates to degenerative aging. 00:14:57 Ken asks if Gordon’s study has been replicated in any other strains of mice. 00:18:54 Dawn mentions that Ponce De Leon Health, which is based in Florida, is marketing a formulation of calcium AKG under the brand name Rejuvant. She goes on to mention that Gordon and his colleagues at the Buck worked with Ponce De Leon Health to develop the product and that Gordon owns stock in the company. Dawn asks Gordon to give an overview of this partnership and address the concerns that some people may have about a potential conflict of interest. 00:21:17 Ken asks Gordon to explain how the dose of calcium AKG used in the mouse study compares to the dose recommended for humans via the commercial supplement, noting that the dose seems to be substantially and proportionally higher for mice. 00:22:03 Ken asks why Ponce De Leon Health is marketing different formulations of its product for men and women,
Episode 119: Gordon Lithgow talks about the biology of aging and prolonging lifespan Our guest today is Dr. Gordon Lithgow, a professor and vice president of Academic Affairs at the Buck Institute in Novato, California. Gordon’s research focuses on uncovering genes and small molecules that prolong lifespan through enhanced molecular stability. Because our conversation with Gordon was so extensive and fascinating, we have split his interview into two parts. In today’s part one of the interview, we talk to Gordon about his background and early studies as well as his fascination with C elegans, a microscopic worm that Gordon and other geneticists study and often use for their research. We particularly talk in depth about two of Gordon’s studies involving C elgans: one that looked at the role that protein homeostasis plays in aging;  and another study that found vitamin D3 improves protein homeostasis and slows aging. A native of Scotland, Gordon researched the biology of aging at the University of Manchester in England before moving to the Buck Institute in 2000. Gordon is married to Dr. Julie Andersen, who was our guest on episodes 117 and 118 and who also is a researcher at the Buck Institute. In part two of our interview with Gordon, we talk to him about a recent study of his that found the naturally occurring metabolite alpha-ketoglutarate reduces inflammatory signaling as well as chronic inflammation. The study has generated quite a bit of buzz because it suggests there’s a readily available metabolite that may have positive effects on lifespan and health span. As a result, Ken and Dawn have been getting numerous questions from listeners about alpha-ketoglutarate and Gordon’s recent study that ran in Cell Metabolism, which Gordon talks about in depth in part two. Show notes: 00:03:59 Dawn opens the interview asking Gordon about growing up in a steelwork town outside of Glasgow, Scotland. 00:04:22 Dawn asks Gordon what he was like as a kid. 00:05:07 Dawn asks Gordon how a young boy who had aspirations of becoming a professional rugby or soccer player suddenly becomes passionate about birdwatching. 00:07:07 Gordon talks about how he went to the University of Strathclyde after high school and how he was the first in his family to attend college. 00:07:48 Dawn asks Gordon why he shifted his academic interests from microbiology to genetic engineering. 00:09:05 Ken asks what led Gordon to attend the University of Glasgow for his doctorate after getting a degree in microbiology. 00:10:04 Ken asks why Gordon went to Switzerland after receiving his doctorate. 00:10:57 Ken asks what prompted Gordon to head to Boulder, Colorado, and why he became so interested in the biology of aging. 00:12:57 Dawn mentions that while Gordon was working in Tom Johnson’s lab during his post-doc, Gordon made what Tom referred to as an amazing discovery. Gordon had found that a single heat shock to worms increased their lifespan by 15 percent. Dawn asks Gordon to talk about this discovery as well as his paper that ran in PNAS. 00:15:46 Ken mentions that because of Gordon’s discovery, many people have developed an interest in sauna. 00:16:57 Dawn mentions that a number of years after discovering that heat shocking increased the lifespan of worms, Gordon followed up on that study and demonstrated that giving the worms repeated mild hormetic heat treatments increased their lifespan even more. Dawn goes on to ask if, since this follow-up study, Gordon has a better understanding of hormesis mechanisms at the cellular and molecular level and how that might relate to the prevention and treatment of different diseases. 00:18:02 Dawn mentions that Julie Anderson, Gordon’s wife, was interviewed for STEM-Talk episodes 117 and 118. Dawn goes on to say that when she asked Julie how she and Gordon met,  Julie said, “I was having a transatlantic relationship with Gordon and we met because we’re nerds.
Today we have part two of our conversation with Dr. Julie Andersen, a professor at the Buck Institute who is conducting fascinating research into the metabolite compound urolithin-A. Laboratory experiments have demonstrated urolithin-A’s ability to induce mitophagy, which is a selective recycling of mitochondria by autophagy, a process that cleans defective mitochondria and becomes less efficient during aging. Julie’s research has focused on the potential of urolithin-A to prevent and treat such diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease. In part one of our interview with Julie, she talked about her interest in aging and age-related diseases as well as her early studies into developing new therapeutics for neurodegeneration. Julie has been with the Buck Institute since 2000 and has published more than 170 papers. Show notes: 00:02:15 Dawn starts the second part of our interview asking Julie how the composition of bacteria in the gut affects brain function. 00:07:08 Ken asks Julie to explain what urolithin-A is, where it comes from, and why her lab and others are so interested in it. 00:10:49 Ken mentions that a study was recently published which showed that giving urolithin-A to older mice resulted in a 42 percent improvement in endurance while running compared to a control group of mice of the same age. Ken goes on to ask Julie what it is that makes urolithin-A so impactful. 00:12:43 Dawn mentions that it is known that production of urolithin-A seems to be dependent on the presence of certain gut microbes. She goes on to ask Julie what types of gut microbes are most important in the conversion of ellagic acid. 00:13:33 Ken asks if people vary in terms of how efficiently they convert ellagic acid into urolithin-A, and if so, how much variance is there. 00:14:43 Julie explains what she has learned about how to better analyze the gut microbiome composition from her studies with mice. 00:15:51 Ken asks if there is a test one can take to see if they are a urolithin-A producer. 00:16:19 Ken mentions the June 2019 paper by Chris Rinsch’s team in Nature Metabolismwhich showed a striking up-regulation of mitochondrial gene expression, including some induction of mitophagy genes in the skeletal muscle of older adults after 4 weeks of oral urolithin-A supplementation. He goes on to say that given the well-documented mitochondrial dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease, which seems to be ubiquitous, he asks what Julie’s thoughts are on the use of urolithin-A supplementation in Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s 00:19:22 Dawn mentions that Julie wrote a paper titled “Senescence as an Amyloid Cascade: The Amyloid Senescence Hypothesis,” about the intersection of amyloid-beta oligomers and cellular senescence in Alzheimer’s disease, cautioning against completely rejecting the amyloid hypothesis. Dawn asks if the intersection of senescence with amyloid burden help to address the lack of correlation between amyloid burden and disease burden in both animal models and humans. 00:26:22 Dawn asks about the compound “C1” that Julie’s lab has demonstrated boosts autophagy and, as a result, shows promise in treating Alzheimer’s. 00:30:27 Dawn mentions Mitopure, which is a commercially available oral formulation of urolithin-A from a Swiss company called Amazentis. This product provides urolithin-A directly regardless of one’s diet or microbiome composition. Dawn goes on to ask if Julie has any thoughts on the benefits of this product. 00:32:23 Dawn asks if there is any evidence that urolithin-A taken orally can cross the blood-brain barrier to reach key target cells in the brain. 00:35:05 Dawn asks if the high concentration of peroxidation-sensitive lipids in the brain, which contribute to its sensitivity, is something that will eventually build regardless, or are there modifiable factors that can alter the susceptibility of lipid species in the brain to peroxidation.
Our guest today is Dr. Julie Andersen, who is best known for her research into aging and age-related diseases. A professor at the Buck Institute Buck Institute for Research on Aging, an independent biomedical research institute that researches ways to extend the healthy years of life, Julie and her colleagues at Buck have focused on understanding the underlying age-related processes driving neurodegenerative diseases in order to identify novel therapeutics. Because our conversation with Julie was so fascinating and long, we have divided it into two parts. In today’s part one of her interview, we talk to Julie about her youth and early career. We also talk to her about the potential of of rapamycin to protect brain cells and mitochondria in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease as well as her thoughts about the Amyloid Cascade Hypothesis. In part two, which will go live in a few weeks, we have an in-depth conversation with Julie about her research into the neuroprotective properties of urolithin A. In terms of Julie’s background, she received her Ph.D. from UCLA and did her post-doc in the department of neurology at Harvard. In 2000 Julie joined the Buck Institute. Show notes: [00:03:33] Dawn opens the interview asking if it is true that Julie was a quiet kid who normally sat in the back of the classroom. [00:03:52] Dawn mentions that Julie was born in Montana but that she grew up in northern Idaho. Dawn asks what it was that brought Julie’s family to Idaho. [00:04:29] Dawn asks Julie what interests she had growing up. [00:05:05] Ken remarks on the fact that one of Julie’s favorite books is a biography of Clementine, Winston Churchill’s wife, and asks where Julie’s interest in Clementine came from. [00:05:46] Dawn mentions that for Julie’s undergraduate degree, she went to Washington State University, where her father was a professor. Dawn asks if Julie knew from the start that she was going to focus her undergraduate studies on plant physiology. [00:07:03] Ken asks Julie took her to UCLA for her Ph.D. [00:08:16] Dawn asks Julie what led to travel across the country to Boston for her post-doc. [00:09:26] Julie explains why she eventually returned to California after her Ph.D. [00:11:32] Dawn asks Julie to tell the story of how meeting someone she described as “a fellow nerd” at an aging conference eventually led her to taking a position at the Buck Institute. [00:14:34] Ken remarks that Julie must like working at the Buck, given she has remained there for the last 20 years. Julie describes what is it about the Buck Institute that makes it such a special place. [00:17:51] Dawn mentions that for the past 20 years, Julie and her lab at Buck have looked at a lot of different aspects of neurodegeneration, with a heavier concentration on autophagy in the past five years. Dawn goes on to mention that Julie has especially been investigating a natural bioactive known as urolithin A. Before diving into all of this work specifically, Dawn asks Julie, what drew her to the study of neurodegeneration to begin with. [00:19:55] Ken asks what prompted Julie’s current focus on autophagy. [00:24:11] Dawn explains that degradation of damaged mitochondria via lysosomal autophagy is a key cellular pathway in the maintenance of mitochondrial homeostasis.  Disruption of this pathway contributes to the progressive cell loss that is associated with Parkinson’s disease. She goes on to mention that Julie published the results of a study in 2015that found rapamycin can protect brain cells and mitochondria in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease. Julie explains the significance of this study and talks about the importance of rapamycin in the research of therapies for Parkinson’s disease. [00:30:44] Dawn asks Julie to explain the concept, and the significance of, transcription factor EB (TFEB), which is a protein that is encoded in humans by the TFEB gene, and is a master regulator of autophagy and lysosom...
Comments (14)

PlusCH3

This is the first episode of @ihmc_stemtalk I've heard and I found the interview with @ecleelab to be very interesting. She is exactly the sort of #professor I've long dreamt of becoming: someone who is passionate about #mentoring, #teaching, and #research. It is super exciting to hear from someone like that because it give me hope that even with all the detours my life has taken, I might actually one day succeed.

Apr 20th
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farzaneh ef

This talk was so useful and amazing👍

Apr 8th
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Karluigi Marie

when did this interview take place? now we know people are being infected more than once. People who live in multigeneraion house holds runs significant risk of catching. we are finding now there are limited teachers to teach the kids because the teachers get sick.

Jan 26th
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Old man

why does everyone have to Salt their speech with the absolutely meaningless phrase "sort of"?

Oct 3rd
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John Grundstrom

Can peolpe strawman any subject and get away with it on this show? What a complete echo-chamber. Was hoping for alternative views and got nothing.

Aug 29th
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Todavia No

This interview is Gold

Jun 21st
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Niclas Daniels

#nicotinamideriboside

Apr 16th
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Benyamin Asgari

great podcast

Feb 5th
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Benyamin Asgari

great podcast

Feb 5th
Reply

Benyamin Asgari

great podcast

Feb 5th
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Rhonda Galasso

I was diagnosed 2 years ago at age 63. Symptoms were tremor in right leg, loss of handwriting ability, and soft voice. I also have difficulty rising from a seated position and have balance issues. I started out taking only Azilect, then Mirapex, and 6 months ago Sinemet. Several months ago I started falling frequently, hence the reason for Sinemet. I tried every shots available but nothing worked. In June 2018, my neurologist and I decided to go with natural treatment and was introduced to Natural Herbal Gardens natural organic Parkinson’s Herbal formula, i had a total decline of symptoms with this treatment, the Tremor, falling frequently, stiffness, body weakness, balance issues, depression and others has subsided. Visit Natural Herbal Gardens official website ww w. naturalherbalgardens. com. This treatment is a breakthrough for all suffering from Parkinson’s, don’t give up Hope. Keep Sharing the Awareness, herbs are truly gift from God.

Oct 10th
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Nick

This is such an incredible podcast. This episode is brilliant. Thanks guys. I would add, how I can get SPM's ???

Oct 9th
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Nick

Brilliant show. I'd never heard of PRM's etc to treat chronic and general inflammation

Sep 13th
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