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Science Rehashed

Science Rehashed

Author: Science Rehashed Inc.

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Hosted by Mehdi Jorfi and Layla Siraj, Science Rehashed aims to offer a window into recent life science breakthroughs and their impacts to anyone in the world with an internet connection.
52 Episodes
Proteins, with their unique structures, have evolved over billions of years to perform a host of different functions essential to the processes that keep us alive. Using the same principles as artificial intelligence chatbots, scientists at Salesforce developed an AI language model called ProGen. Using large protein databases, ProGen was trained on the biological syntax of amino acid sequences, allowing it to design functional 3D protein structures. These proteins have useful properties that may be leveraged in healthcare and biosciences. In this episode, we talk with Dr. Nikhil Naik, Director of AI Research at Salesforce, leading the team of scientists behind ProGen. We discuss the inspiration for ProGen, the implications of AI-generated proteins, and the future of protein engineering in light of ever-evolving biotechnologies. Music credits: “Summer Lofi” and “Summer Winds” by Rukudzo.
Respiratory infections are a major cause of mortality worldwide and pose unique challenges for healthcare interventions due to the antibiotic-resistant nature of many respiratory pathogens. For patients that require ventilation, an additional complicating factor is a protective substance produced by bacteria known as a biofilm. Biofilms can result in chronic infections, preventing the body and antibiotics from clearing the bacteria away. In this episode, we talk with Dr. Maria Lluch-Senar, a biotechnologist working with engineered Mycoplasma (a type of bacteria) with the aim of leveraging it to treat disease. She shares with us why Mycoplasma is a candidate for these interventions, how her lab modifies the organism, and the process through which these bacteria will help us more effectively treat other bacterial infections. Music featured in this episode includes excerpts from “Elevator Pitch” and “What’s the Angle” by Shane Ivers.
Have you ever had a wound that took a long time to heal? What if the bandage on your next wound could heal you faster by harnessing the power of your movement? Dr. Zong-Hong Lin and Dr. Snigdha Barman used their bioengineering expertise to create such a system. Their dressing uses embedded piezoelectric devices to convert the body’s motion into electricity, which powers multiple functions designed to overcome specific challenges of wound healing in clinical settings. The dressing, which can be worn continuously for several days, releases hydrogen peroxide to fight bacterial infection while using electrical stimulation to promote healing via cell proliferation, migration, and angiogenesis. We talked with Dr. Lin and Dr. Barman about the motivation for their work, the obstacles they overcame in developing their dressing, and the promises and challenges in its future application. This episode contains musical excerpts from “Drops of God” and “Dark Matter” by Rukudzo Kanyemba.
Vaccines have revolutionized modern medicine, preventing, and even eradicating devastating diseases worldwide. Vaccines leveraging emerging technologies in cellular engineering may lead a revolution in medicine again, starting in brain tumors. In this episode, we hear from Dr. Khalid Shah, a researcher at the forefront of such developments. Dr. Shah and his team are engineering brain tumor cells to create a treatment with direct tumor-killing effects, addressing incomplete tumor margins during excisional surgery. In addition to this direct effect, the treatment also stimulates the immune system to generate long-lasting anti-tumor activity, preventing future recurrence of the same tumor. Music Credits: “Shaolin,” “Inqusitive,” “Fire,” and “Kutapira” by Rukudzo.
When chemist and Nobel Laureate Carolyn Bertozzi was leaving grad school, she asked her professors for letters of recommendation to pursue a postdoc in immunology. They warned her that she was flushing her career down the toilet. Instead, this was one in a series of opportunities that Dr. Bertozzi recognized and pursued, in a career that has changed the way modern chemists work. For this Fireside Chat episode, Dr. Bertozzi told us how she has made a career out of seizing opportunities in the face of pushback, institutional sexism, and the doubts of colleagues. We touched on her experiences finishing grad school without an advisor, building confidence as a young scientist, moving between disciplines, and launching biotech startups. We also talked about the importance of encouragement from friends and colleagues, the inside game of academia, the challenge of keeping a scientifically open mind, and of course what it's like to win a Nobel Prize and invite your dad to Stockholm. This episode includes musical excerpts from “Nitrogen", "Half Mystery" and "Inspired" by Kevin MacLeod, and "Robots and Aliens" by Joel Cummins.
Social media has infiltrated our society more quickly than any other technological advancement. Kids today have access to endless content and social connections by way of the internet than the generations before them. What effect does a 24/7 connection have on our mental well-being? How does growing up in an age of social media affect our relationships and views of ourselves? In this 360 Perspective episode, we’re exploring the issues surrounding social media and mental health. First, Luisa Fassi tells us about her research on adolescent development and creating a sense of self online. Emma Fyffe opens up about how making a career of her online persona has affected her own mental well-being. Sean Kelley presents his work on algorithms that can identify mental health status from peoples’ language on social media posts. Finally, Dr. Ashley Knapp tells us about the digital tools her team is developing for youth to combat anxiety and how we can make these tools accessible and effective for all. Music Credits: “The Bounce”, “Samba”, “Afrobeat Instrumental”, “Secret Sauce” and “Lofi for Mental Health” by Rukudzo Helpful resources:
Varying by country, 5-18% of babies are born pre-term, putting them at risk of medical and developmental complications. While advances in care have greatly improved mortality outcomes for these infants, evidence-based interventions to improve neurodevelopmental outcomes have been more elusive—until now. In this episode, we interview Dr. Martha Welch, a pioneer in pediatric psychiatry, and Dr. Sampsa Vanhatalo, a leading researcher in infant neurophysiology, on their recent work demonstrating how a simple intervention can improve cortical networks and possibly normalize development in this vulnerable population.
Have you ever picked up a video game for the first time and felt completely lost? After a few failed attempts, you surely got better and better each time. In the same way, we can learn how to play a game or use a new piece of technology, scientists at Cortical Labs are teaching brain cells in a Petri dish to play the 1970s arcade classic Pong. With electrical feedback stimulation, the cells can learn to move a virtual platform and volley a ball back and forth with impressive accuracy. In this episode, Dr. Brett Kagan, chief scientific officer at Cortical Labs, tells us how they developed the DishBrain. We discuss how predictable feedback enables neurons to exhibit goal-directed behavior, the question of sentience, and whether we might use synthetic biological intelligence as a medical tool in the future.
As a girl growing up on a remote island farm in western Norway, May-Britt Moser looked at the people and animals around her and wondered what was happening inside them, or in her words, “how the brain is generating behavior, memory, our cognition, our emotions”. Over four decades as a psychologist and neurologist, Dr. Moser has met with astonishing success in answering these questions, leading her team to remarkable discoveries of the neural mechanisms by which we mark time, form memories, and find our way around. In 2014 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for discovering the network of so-called grid cells that encode spatial information and enable navigation in humans and other mammals. We talked with Dr. Moser about her research and career; her reflections on science, tenacity, and gender; her analysis of how good science gets done; and (of course) the day she won the Nobel.
The prevalence of Parkinson’s disease has grown more than 50% in recent years, and early onset diagnosis is increasing at an even faster rate. Due to its slow, subtle progression and variable response to medications, this condition can be difficult for clinicians to manage. The work of Dr. Dina Katabi, Director of the MIT Center for Wireless Networks and Mobile Computing, may change that. Her team has shown that discrete, radio wave emitting devices in the home can be used to track patient movement and health parameters like sleep quality. In this episode, Dr. Katabi explains how this work will make healthcare more precise and accessible than ever before. Music Credits: “Land of the midnight sun” and “I hope you hear this” by Rukudzo.
Over 2.8 million people worldwide live with multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the protective myelin coating around nerves in the brain and spinal cord. People with MS can experience pain, fatigue, memory problems, vision loss, and other debilitating symptoms. MS is relatively rare, but new research has found a causal link between Epstein-Barr Virus, one of the most common human viruses, and MS. In this episode, we talk to Dr. Alberto Ascherio, a Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, about the 20-year longitudinal databank that reveals Epstein-Barr Virus as a causal factor in MS.
Imagine having a telescope that could allow you to see whether a syndrome will manifest in the future. Imagine being able to use it to cure diseases before they can even occur. For Dr. Thomas McElrath, MD-PhD in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, this telescope exists and is called LIFECODES. The LIFECODES Biobank is an extensive biobank of samples collected for over 14 years with data on over 6,000 pregnancies. It is used to look at biomarkers associated with pregnancy complications and the effects of environmental exposures on pregnancy outcomes. In this episode, we have interviewed Dr. McElrath to talk about his recent work published in Nature. He has leveraged these data to shed light on normal pregnancy progression to uncover new biomarkers that can be used to diagnose syndromes months before clinical presentation.  “Zenyatta is my Spirit Animal and Hyacinths’’ music composition administered by Rukudzo © 2022 Rukudzo Kanyemba. All rights reserved.
We do not often think about our past as a species. What are the changes that made us like we are now? When, where, and why did these changes happen? Can we go back in history and find the answers to these questions? Archaeologists reconstruct human behavior in the past, mainly using things that people left behind, or this is what they used to do. In recent years, the possibility to study ancient DNA has revolutionized our way of looking at the past. Ancient DNA allows us to explore human diversity in different places and times and understand what factors shaped it, revealing mysteries about our history. We have interviewed Mary E. Prendergast, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Rice University and a leader of one of the largest-scale studies of ancient DNA in Africa. Listen to this episode to find out how Dr. Prendergast and her team could use ancient DNA from individuals who lived between 18,000-400 years ago to explore how people interacted as far back as the last 80,000-50,000 years. Music by Doug Maxwell, “A good day on the African Planes” and Joel Cummings, “Robots and Aliens”.  
Alzheimer’s disease affects millions of people and their families. Scientists have made extraordinary progress characterizing the pathology of Alzheimer’s and working to find effective treatments. As scientists continue to unlock more and more about the disease and how to combat it, how can we address the challenges currently facing doctors, patients, and caregivers? In this 360 Perspective episode, we talk about the history of Alzheimer’s, the stigma surrounding it, disparities in healthcare, and the impacts on caregivers. We interviewed Drs. Carl Hill, Stephanie Kalb, Jason Karlawish, Gad Marshall, and Stephen Salloway to discuss these issues. Music credits: Myuu - “Suspicious” Sneaky Snitch Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License Additional music provided by Aaron Troutman.
Puberty may seem like a chaotic phase of life, but the process is precisely controlled by a series of timed signals beginning in the brain. Before we are born, a set of neurons secreting GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) migrate to the brain and set up the hub that will control reproductive processes. During this time, these neurons recruit newborn astrocytes, and they stick together throughout life. In this episode, we speak with Dr. Vincent Prévot, Director of the Development and Plasticity of the Neuroendocrine Brain Team of INSERM, to discuss his research on the neuroendocrine regulators of reproduction. Dr Prévot tells us about how the GnRH neurons actively recruit astrocytes, and how this process can be interrupted. Listen to hear more about the processes that lead to puberty, environmental factors that affect the natural timing of puberty, and why it is important for puberty to happen at the “right time.” Additional music provided by Aaron Troutman.
The disease that would ultimately become known AIDS was first diagnosed in June 1981. At that time, researchers had not yet determined what caused it, and by the time most patients presented with symptoms, they had only months to live. After four decades of effort by the global research community, the development of promising experimental HIV vaccines has now finally come true. We have interviewed Dr. Paolo Lusso, Chief of the Viral Pathogenesis Section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to discuss his research in developing and testing promising HIV vaccines. In this episode, Dr. Lusso explains why it took so long to develop a vaccine with the potential to defeat this “master of disguise and transformation”, words he uses to refer to HIV. Listen to this episode to learn more about the immune system, the process of developing a vaccine, and the challenges scientists had to face to stop the most invisible of all viruses.  “I miss you (reimagined)”, music composition administered by Rukudzo © 2022 Rukudzo Kanyemba. All rights reserved.
“Every gambler knows that the secret to survivin' is knowin' what to throw away and knowin' what to keep...”. Have you ever listened to “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers? He knew how to play the game right, and it turns out that so does our body! Dr. Phil Jones, a Professor of Cancer Development at the University of Cambridge UK, works on uncovering the dynamics of cell behavior. He found that human cells play a dice game, balancing the odds between production and shedding. This game protects the genomes of our cells, throwing out most of the damage we accumulate during our lives. However, mutations can change the game's rules and increase the odds in favor of dividing cells, potentially leading to cancer. Acquiring mutations is easier than we think: ultraviolet light in sunshine or tobacco-derived chemicals can cause extensive mutations in our body. Despite this, our tissue can surprisingly continue to look and function normally. Listen to this episode to learn how normal tissues restrain the expansion of mutant clones, so very few of them progress to form tumors. Phew!
In the words of Dr. Ali Khademhosseini, "There is no question that tissue engineering will one day transform medicine.” After his first research experience at the University of Toronto, Dr. Khademhosseini fell in love with tissue engineering and its significant and life-changing impact on healthcare. Today, at the Terasaki Institute in Los Angeles, Dr. Khademhosseini focuses his research on developing various approaches to merge microfabrication techniques with hydrogel biomaterials to generate complex 3D tissues that mimic the natural cellular environment. In addition to being the author of more than 500 journal papers and speaker at more than 300 invited lectures, he is also the recipient of more than 60 major national and international awards and has been selected by Thomson Reuters as one of the World’s Most Influential Minds for five consecutive years. In this episode, Dr. Ali Khademhosseini tells us his story of discovery and passion for tissue engineering and shares some of his secrets for success. Are you in need of some inspiration? This episode is for you. “Believe that you are resolving important things; if you do your work, you can change the world.” - Dr. Ali Khademhosseini
In 1846, Dr. John Collins Warren and William T. G. Morton performed the first public demonstration of surgery under an anesthetic. Today, anesthesiologist and statistician Emery Brown combines his fields of expertise and applies a computational approach to answer questions about neuroscience and to research how anesthetics interact with the central nervous system. Brown is a faculty member at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard, and MIT, and in this episode, he highlights that, while anesthesia practices in the operating room have evolved over the 175 years since Warren and Morton’s first anesthesia demonstration, medical understanding of how anesthetics work is still limited. His work pioneers a new approach to administering anesthetics to patients—by reading and using electrical activity in the brain to determine the appropriate dose of anesthetic. Brown’s curiosity is inspiring, as his exploration of diverse interests expands beyond biomedicine to foreign languages—in this episode, he also speaks on his approach to language learning and how he utilizes language learning in a clinical context. Music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under CC BY 4.0.
Bullying in Academia

Bullying in Academia


Have you ever felt demeaned, harassed, or humiliated at work? During their training, our future doctors and scientists may often encounter hostile work environments upheld by their supervisors. The academic culture emboldens the bullies and discourages students from speaking up when they experience harmful treatment. Why do bullies continue to thrive in academia, and how can the scientific community take action?  In this episode, we discuss abusive supervision in academia with Dr. Sherry Moss, Professor of Organizational Studies at Wake Forest University, and Dr. Morteza Mahmoudi, Assistant Professor of Radiology and Precision Health Program at Michigan State University. We consult Dr. Bob Sutton, an organizational psychologist and author of “The No Asshole Rule,” and Dr. Steve Anderson, former Director of the Driskill Graduate Program at Northwestern University, to render a multi-layered perspective on the state of bullying in academia.
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