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Superbugs Unplugged
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Superbugs Unplugged

Author: Lance Price and Matthew Wellington

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A joint project of U.S. PIRG and the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center, this monthly podcast will delve into the critical health threat of antibiotic resistance and what drives it, including antibiotic use in agriculture and human health care, challenges and opportunities in R&D, and more. Co-hosts Matt Wellington and Dr. Lance Price will cover a new topic and feature an expert guest every month. Have questions or want to make suggestions? Write to us at Follow us on social media: @battlesuperbugs @USPIRG.
39 Episodes
This was a sad episode for our co-hosts Dr. Lance B. Price and Matt Wellington as well as our producer, Laura Rogers. In this episode we bade farewell to Matt who is leaving U.S. PIRG after 10 years to serve as the Associate Director for the Maine Public Health Association(his home state). In addition to saying goodbye, we reminisced about some of his favorite episodes including  “CDC on the Fungal Kingdom: Full of Friends and Enemies” and “Designing the Perfect Predator: Phage Therapy.” Fear not, Superbugs Unplugged will continue. We’re taking a summer hiatus, but will have a fresh episode for you in September. We’ll repost some of our most listened to episodes over the summer. We hope you will listen and encourage others to do the same!
In this episode, hosts Dr. Lance B. Price and Matthew Wellington discuss an op ed they co-authored that was published in STAT News.  The piece is titled "The window is closing to stop deadly drug-resistant fungi like Candida auris" and discusses just what you think it does. The co-hosts discuss other fungal and bacterial infections and the need for better surveillance systems in the US so we better prepared for the next public health emergency. Read the op ed. 
In our March 2023 episode, Matt Wellington interviews his co-host, Dr. Lance B. Price, about a new study he co-authored that establishes a link between E. coli in raw meat and urinary tract infections in people. First, we hear about how these infections occur in people and some steps we can take to mitigate our risk. Next, Dr. Price addresses the “shared responsibility” of reducing the spread of E. coli and other foodborne pathogens and describes how government agencies can do their part through enhanced surveillance and vaccination research. To wrap up the episode, Dr. Price offers his outlook on our whole food system and highlights other opportunities for improvement. 
For our February episode, you'll hear the recording of a recent PIRG webinar, "How States can Protect Life-saving Antibiotics". First, each panelist, listed below, shares his/her perspective on the antibiotic resistance crisis. Next, the group explores the connection between antibiotic resistance and animal agriculture through moderator and audience questions. Finally, the panel turns to state action, including the Transparent and Responsible Antibiotic Use Act, which has recently been introduced in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly. You'll hear from:Matt Wellington, Public Health Campaigns Director, PIRGRaya Carr, Shepherdess and Events & Project Coordinator, Mint Creek FarmMadeleine Kleven, Safe and Healthy Food Program Associate, FACTDr. Sameer Patel, Antimicrobial Stewardship Program Director, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of ChicagoTune in here to listen to the discussion!
In our January episode of Superbugs Unplugged, co-hosts Matt Wellington and Louis Sokolow chat with Dr. Reshma Ramachandran, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine and Director of the Yale Collaboration for Regulatory Rigor, Integrity, and Transparency (CRRIT). First, we hear about Dr. Ramanchandran’s work with CRRIT to ensure that FDA-approved medical products are sufficiently safe and accessible. Next, we do a deep dive into the PASTEUR Act, a piece of legislation that would incentivize antibiotic development through government contracts with companies that receive FDA approval for a new antibiotic. Dr. Ramachandran provides her perspective and walks us through the flaws she sees in the bill, and we wrap up with a discussion of alternatives to PASTEUR. Tune in here to listen to the conversation! 
In this episode of Superbugs Unplugged, our guest, Dr. Erin Duffy, discusses the global health threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and why and how her non-profit, CARB-X, is investing in diverse products to help overcome common challenges faced in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). Dr. Duffy is the Chief of R&D at CARB-X, a global biopharmaceutical accelerator for the discovery and early development of products to prevent, diagnose and treat resistant bacterialinfections. Prior to CARB-X, Dr. Duffy served as Chief Scientific Officer of Melinta Therapeutics.
In this episode we talk with Kevin Outterson the Executive Director and Principal Investigator of CARB-X about our need for the development of antibiotics. He is Professor of Law and N. Neil Pike Scholar of Health and Disability Law at Boston University School of Law, where he leads multi-disciplinary teams to solve global health issues. 
Our guest this month is patient advocate Ella Balasa who was born with the rare and chronic lung disease cystic fibrosis (CF). She shares how important antibiotics are for people living with CF to be able to fight off dangerous lung infections. She also shares how she became a patient advocate. It’s a really great discussion that you won't want to miss.
In this month's episode, co-hosts Dr. Lance Price and Matthew Wellington interview award-winning chef, cookbook author, activist, and media personality Mary Sue Milliken. She's best known for her modern Mexican concept, Border Grill restaurants, trucks, and catering, which she runs with her business partner Susan Feniger. Mary Sue Milliken was one of the first chefs to join the Supermoms Against Superbugs movement, an advocacy program run by ARAC's deputy director, Laura Rogers, when she was at the Pew Charitable Trusts. In the episode, Mary Sue shares why she is passionate about antibiotic resistance and how after serving as a Supermom transformed her restaurants to ensure the meat she procures are from animals  raised with responsible antibiotic use. 
Our latest episode features distinguished Indian environmentalist, political activist, and writer Sunita Narain, who discusses antibiotic resistance as it relates to environmentalism and human health. She's based in New Delhi in India and is a force of nature. You won't want to miss this episode!
Tune into the latest episode of our podcast to hear public health researcher and advocate, Dr. Everly Macario, discuss her personal connection to antibiotic resistance, and its impact on the medical system as we know it.
Tune into the latest episode of our podcast to hear ARAC's deputy director, Laura Rogers, discuss the Center's new paper in Science Magazine that calls into question the integrity of the 'Raised without Antibiotics' label claim.
On this episode, Co-Host Matthew Wellington talks with experts from World Animal Protection. Topics addressed include antibiotic over use on industrial farms, animal welfare issues related to these huge farms and the need for a moratorium on additional factory farms in the United States and globally.
This month’s episode focuses on a recent AMR study published in the Lancet: Global burden of bacterial antimicrobial resistance in 2019: a systematic analysis. Our guest this month is co-author Dr. Kevin Ikuta, Infectious Disease Physician, Assistant Professor at UCLA in the Division of Infectious Diseases, and Hospital Epidemiologist at the Greater Los Angeles VA.We dive into the details and methods of the report, which areas are most impacted by AMR, and how to tackle this global health crisis.
The Hedgehog Factor

The Hedgehog Factor


Dr. Jesper Larsen and Anders R. Larsen, Ph.D. join us to discuss their exciting new report “Emergence of methicillin resistance predates the clinical use of antibiotics”. This study reveals that some strains of MRSA were around far before the era of human antibiotic use.  It was discovered in the most unlikely of places – on the backs of hedgehogs. Co-hosts Matt and Lance unpack this discovery and discuss how it relates to the importance of reducing antibiotic use in human and animal settings to slow resistance. 
Join Lance and Matt as they sit down with Dr. Laura Huber and Dr. Thomas Van Boeckle to discuss the findings of their recent paper, which looks at reductions in antibiotics in chickens in Canada and the impact on resistance in Salmonella, Campy and E coli. 
In this episode, co-hosts Dr. Lance B. Price and Lydia Palumbo sit down with Louise Francois Watkins from the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the CDC. They discuss antibiotic resistant campylobacter, and how it makes its way into our lives through our food and pets.
In this month's episode, co-host Dr. Lance B. Price talks with his former colleague and current friend, Dave Wagner, a plague expert at the Northern Arizona University. The two discuss plague, why it's still around. and the critical role antibiotics play in protecting the public .
Join Lance and Matt in this month’s episode, as they meet with Dr. Jeffery Klausner, a Clinical Professor of Population and Public Health Sciences and Professor of Medicine at the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. We’ll explore the threat of drug-resistant gonorrhea, how it came to be, and how the flaws in our health system make it a daunting issue to solve.
In this episode, Maria Lettini, executive director of FAIRR, talks about their latest report: Feeding Resistance: Antimicrobial Stewardship in the Animal Health Industry. It's the first report to assess the animal health industry through the lens of antibiotic resistance and highlights the role that the sector can play in tackling the growing risk of resistance. Co-host Matt Wellington and Maria Lettini also discuss how this investor network raises awareness of the environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities brought about by industrial farming. 
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