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    This Podcast Will Kill You

    This podcast might not actually kill you, but Erin Welsh and Erin Allmann Updyke cover so many things that can. In each episode, they tackle a different topic, teaching listeners about the biology, history, and epidemiology of a different disease or medical mystery. They do the scientific research, so you don’t have to.   Since 2017, Erin and Erin have explored chronic and infectious diseases, medications, poisons, viruses, bacteria and scientific discoveries. They’ve researched public health subjects including plague, Zika, COVID-19, lupus, asbestos, endometriosis and more. Each episode is accompanied by a creative quarantini cocktail recipe and a non-alcoholic placeborita. Erin Welsh, Ph.D. is a co-host of the This Podcast Will Kill You. She is a disease ecologist and epidemiologist and works full-time as a science communicator through her work on the podcast. Erin Allmann Updyke, MD, Ph.D. is a co-host of This Podcast Will Kill You. She’s an epidemiologist and disease ecologist currently in the final stretch of her family medicine residency program. This Podcast Will Kill You is part of the Exactly Right podcast network that provides a platform for bold, creative voices to bring to life provocative, entertaining and relatable stories for audiences everywhere. The Exactly Right roster of podcasts covers a variety of topics including science, true crime, comedic interviews, news, pop culture and more. Podcasts on the network include My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, Buried Bones, That's Messed Up: An SVU Podcast and more.
    enExactly Right191 Episodes

    Episodes (191)

    Ep 145 IVF, Part 3: Industry

    Ep 145 IVF, Part 3: Industry
    CW: mentions of infertility, pregnancy loss, body-shaming The third and final installment of our series on IVF surveys the current and potential future landscape of this powerful technology. We first trace the growth of the IVF industry in the US since its inception in the early 1980s up to today before then giving an overview of some of the regulatory and ethical considerations facing this field on a global scale. Alongside these challenges of access and regulation are the incredible innovations that expand how we use IVF today as well as paint a world of possibilities for the future of IVF as we incorporate these revolutionary technologies. Tune in for a conversation about the past, present, and possible future of IVF! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Ep 144 IVF, Part 2: Invention

    Ep 144 IVF, Part 2: Invention
    CW: mentions of infertility, pregnancy loss, suicide In the second part of our three-part series on IVF, we’re picking up where we left off last week. From the historical side of things, that means investigating how the revolutionary technology of IVF was developed over the decades of the 20th century leading to the first “test tube babies” born in 1978, and how the field of IVF transformed from uncertain technology to burgeoning industry. From the medical side of things, that means exploring what a typical cycle of IVF might look like step by step (or rather, injection by injection) and go over how we define “success” when it comes to IVF. If you’ve ever wondered what exactly goes into the IVF process and how we developed such an incredible technology, this is the episode for you! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Ep 143 IVF, Part 1: Infertility

    Ep 143 IVF, Part 1: Infertility
    Content Warning: mentions of infertility, pregnancy loss We’re coming at you with not one, not two, but THREE whole episodes on IVF (in vitro fertilization) and other forms of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) over the next several weeks. Our first episode in this series starts things off with a broad examination of infertility over space and time. We take a closer look at headlines claiming infertility is on the rise, leading us to ask how we assess and measure infertility and whether those headlines take into account the changing meanings of the concept of infertility over human history. After our voyage through the social history of infertility, we explain what to expect when you go in for fertility testing, covering some of the most common causes of infertility and what “unexplained infertility” means as a diagnosis. But perhaps the most important part of this episode and the rest of this series are the firsthand accounts contributed by listeners who share some of the most intimate and emotional parts of their lives. We are forever indebted to all of you. Tune in today for part one of this series! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Special Episode: Dr. Noah Whiteman & Most Delicious Poison

    Special Episode: Dr. Noah Whiteman & Most Delicious Poison
    The word “poison” is much more subjective than it may first appear. It’s likely you’ve come across the phrase, “the dose makes the poison”, referring to some compounds that are beneficial in small amounts but deadly in others - such as digitalis. And then there’s the intended recipient of the “poison”; a poison to one animal might be a boon to another, like milkweeds and monarch butterflies. Our own relationships to poisons can be unpredictable. Attracted, addicted, healed, repelled, harmed, neutral - all are possible alone or in combination. Why do organisms produce caffeine, penicillin, alcohol, capsaicin, opioids, cyanide, and countless other poisons, and why are our responses so varied? That’s exactly what author Dr. Noah Whiteman explores in his book Most Delicious Poison: The Story of Nature's Toxins--From Spices to Vices. Dr. Whiteman, who is Professor of Genetics, Genomics, Evolution and Development and Director of the Essig Museum of Entomology at UC-Berkeley, takes us through the evolution, chemistry, and neuroscience of plant- and animal-derived poisons and explores the fine line between healing and harm. Weaving together personal narratives with stories of scientific discovery and evolutionary biology, Dr. Whiteman presents an expansive view of the world of these poisons and what they mean to us. Tune in today! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Ep 142 Leeches: It’s more powerful than magic, it’s nature

    Ep 142 Leeches: It’s more powerful than magic, it’s nature
    Did our episode on maggots leave you wanting more squirmy wormy yet oh so cool content? You’re in luck. Because this week, we’re following up our maggots episode with a companion piece on leeches. Leeches have been used by healers and physicians for millennia, and they’ve come back into style for treatments today, for very good reason. If you’ve ever wondered what makes leech saliva so magical, why barber poles are striped with red and white ribbons, or how leeches behave as parents, then this is certainly the episode for you. And we are so excited to be joined by friend of the pod Dr. Robert Rowe, who shares a tale of leeches from the front lines of plastic surgery. Dr. Rowe MD, MBA, MPH is a Preventive Medicine Physician who serves as adjunct faculty with both the University of North Carolina Preventive Medicine Residency Program and the Gillings School of Global Public Health. He is also the creator and host of TarHeal Wellness, a podcast dedicated to the health and wellbeing of medical residents, touching on physical and mental challenges many other people face as well. For those who have friends or family who are doctors or training to be, it's a great way to hear about some of the challenges of residency and how they can work through and overcome them. Available wherever you get your podcasts! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Special Episode: Dr. Paul Offit & Tell Me When It’s Over

    Special Episode: Dr. Paul Offit & Tell Me When It’s Over
    The COVID-19 pandemic started with a bang - lockdowns, grocery store shelves cleared of their goods, toilet paper shortages, and a pervasive sense of panic. But more recently, it has slowly faded into the background for many of us. The WHO says that while we’re no longer in crisis mode, we are still in a pandemic. What does that mean for us in our daily lives? In this TPWKY book club episode, we’re joined by Dr. Paul Offit to discuss his recent book Tell Me When It’s Over: An Insider’s Guide to Deciphering COVID Myths and Navigating our Post-Pandemic World [Interview recorded February 21, 2024]. Dr. Offit, who is a pediatrician, vaccine expert, vaccine co-inventor (rotavirus), member of vaccines advisory committees, and long-time vaccine advocate, explains some of the COVID disinformation that continues to circulate about the virus, discusses where government institutions went wrong during the early months of the pandemic, and what we can expect now that the pandemic is no longer the public health emergency it once was. Tune in for a fascinating reflection on where we are in the pandemic today and how we can all fight against the rise in anti-science that threatens the future of public health. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Ep 141 Maggots: Such noble work

    Ep 141 Maggots: Such noble work
    Just reading the title of this episode may have been enough to make you feel grossed out and creepy crawly. And now we’re asking you to listen to a whole episode about maggots? But trust us, it’s worth the journey. Because these little creatures have a hidden depth to them that will surprise, delight, and, we would venture to say, inspire. In this episode, we explore the many ways that maggots have been used by medicine over the centuries up to the present day and the properties they possess that make them heroes of healing. With a discerning palate and something called extracorporeal digestion, maggots can show us that, when it comes to wound healing, teamwork makes the dream work. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Ep 140 Nipah virus: Of Fruit and Bats

    Ep 140 Nipah virus: Of Fruit and Bats
    What does it take to make the WHO’s list of high priority pathogens of pandemic potential? Ask Nipah virus. Extremely deadly with a wide host range and no effective treatments or vaccine (yet), Nipah virus has certainly earned its place on this list. In this episode, we explore where this virus came from, how it can make us so very sick, and the 1998 outbreak in peninsular Malaysia that put Nipah virus on the map. But we don’t stop there! We bring on expert guest, Dr. Clifton McKee, research associate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to guide us through the ecological factors that drive Nipah virus spillover events and outbreaks. With Dr. McKee’s help, we explore what a One Health approach to Nipah virus looks like and how it integrates study across animals, humans, and the environment to help predict and control when and where this virus might spill over. Tune in to learn more about this deadly virus that inspired the 2011 movie Contagion. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Special Episode: Dr. Sara Manning Peskin & A Molecule Away from Madness

    Special Episode: Dr. Sara Manning Peskin & A Molecule Away from Madness
    We live on the edge. Whether we fail to acknowledge it or try not to think of it, that fact remains true for most of us. A chemical shift, a rogue protein, a marauding molecule - our brains are vulnerable to an array of attacks that could dramatically alter our connection with the world and ourselves. In this episode of the TPWKY book club, Dr. Sara Manning Peskin, MD, MS, assistant professor of clinical neurology at the University of Pennsylvania and author, joins us to discuss her book A Molecule Away from Madness: Tales of the Hijacked Brain. Deeply fascinating, occasionally terrifying, and always empathetic, A Molecule Away from Madness features individual cases of the brain gone awry. Dr. Manning Peskin artfully combines these emotional and personal stories with approachable explanations of how our brains work and historical descriptions of how we gained this understanding. Tune in to this captivating conversation wherever you get your podcasts! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Ep 139 Supplements: “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA”

    Ep 139 Supplements: “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA”
    Does it seem like the supplement section of your grocery store gets bigger every time you go in? Or that all television commercials these days seem to be advertising dietary supplements that promise to improve your concentration, help you lose weight, make you happier, healthier, smarter, stronger, cooler, poop better or some mix of those? You’re not imagining things. The explosion of the US dietary supplement industry over the past few years is very real, and when you’re inundated with ads for supplements everywhere you turn, it can be very difficult to navigate whether these things actually do what they say and how much they’re allowed to say without actually doing anything. That’s where this episode comes in. We take you through what supplements actually are, how their regulation in the US has changed over the past century, what dietary supplements can and cannot claim on their label, and how the supplement market has fared since the Covid pandemic (spoilers: it’s thriving). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Ep 138 Fever: Take it to the limit

    Ep 138 Fever: Take it to the limit
    A dull pounding headache. Body aches that come and go. Chills that set your teeth to chattering and have you reaching for the fluffiest blankets to warm up. But the thing is, you’re already warm, hot even. At least according to the thermometer. That’s right, you’ve got a fever. Throughout the years of making this podcast, we’ve begun many a disease description with “it started with a fever” but we haven’t ever explored what that really means in depth until this episode. We take you through why fevers happen, how they work, why on earth you feel cold when you’re actually running a temperature, and whether they’re helpful, harmful, or somewhere in between. We then poke around in the history of thermometers, exploring when someone first thought to measure human body temperature and how that changed the concept of Fever the disease to fever the symptom. This is a red-hot fever dream of an episode with some very fun fever facts, so make sure to tune in! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Special Episode: Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens & Medical Bondage

    Special Episode: Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens & Medical Bondage
    The TPWKY book club is back in action, and we’re thrilled to be starting this season’s reading journey with Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens, reproductive rights advocate, Associate Professor in the University of Connecticut history department, and award-winning author of Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology. The history of science and medicine often focuses on the achievements of wealthy, white male physicians and researchers whose names are etched on medical school buildings, libraries, and dormitories. Rarely do these stories give voice to those whose bodies or labor were exploited in the name of scientific progress. In the first book club episode of the season, Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens joins us to discuss the Black enslaved women who worked alongside the so-called “Father of Gynecology”, James Marion Sims, as both patients and caregivers in nineteenth-century America. Our conversation takes us through the inherent contradictions in the way nineteenth-century physicians wrote and thought about race, gender, and health, and how broad changes in medical practice during this time promoted the dissemination of unfounded beliefs in how white and Black bodies experienced pain, health, and disease. Tune in for a fascinating conversation that will have you immediately adding Medical Bondage to your to-read list! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Ep 137 ME/CFS: What’s in a name? (A lot, actually)

    Ep 137 ME/CFS: What’s in a name? (A lot, actually)
    In many ways, this week’s episode on myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a companion piece to last week’s episode on Long Covid. The two share many similarities: a wide range of debilitating symptoms lingering long after infection, an illness which can transform from day to day or week to week, dismissal and downplaying by the medical community, a big question mark under “pathophysiological cause”, and so many others. These parallels can tell us a great deal about our concepts of disease and how we deal with uncertainty in science and medicine. But the differences between these two can be equally revealing. In this episode, we dig into what we know and what we hypothesize about the biological underpinnings of ME/CFS before tracing the twisty history of this disease, as popular perception switched back and forth and back again from “real” to “imagined” disease. We wrap up the episode with a look at some of the current research and promising treatments for ME/CFS. Both ME/CFS and Long Covid demonstrate the power of patients and patient advocates in raising awareness about poorly understood diseases and the impact that sharing personal stories can have. You can find more incredible work by Katie Walters, the provider of one of our firsthands for this episode, by clicking on this link. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Ep 136 Long Covid: A long time coming

    Ep 136 Long Covid: A long time coming
    We’re back with our season 7 premiere, and we’re kicking things off with a topic that we’ve wanted to cover for a long time, even if the topic itself hasn’t been around all that long. That’s right, we’re taking on Long Covid. When SARS-CoV-2 began making its way around the world in 2020, it was thought to cause a mild illness in most people, with complete recovery a couple of weeks after first getting infected. But just a short time into the pandemic, people began to report debilitating symptoms lingering for months after recovery was “supposed” to happen. What started out as a trickle of reports soon turned into a tsunami, and this condition, which came to be known as Long Covid, transformed our understanding of this viral infection. In this episode, we explore how the concept of Long Covid was defined by those who experience it, who also continue to advocate for better treatment, more research, and real compassion from medical professionals. We examine what we currently know about the biology of this condition, and delve into some of the most promising research avenues that may give us a greater understanding of or ability to treat Long Covid. This story is still being written, but already it can tell us so much about our concepts of infectious disease and how the medical system treats those with “invisible” illness. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Ep 135 Menopause is whatever you want it to be

    Ep 135 Menopause is whatever you want it to be
    For our season 6 finale, we’re spending some time with menopause. How many nicknames can you think of for menstruation? Quite a few, I’m sure. “That time of the month”, “Aunt Flo”, “the red wave”, “period”, the list goes on. But what about euphemisms for menopause? We’ve got “the change” or “change of life”, “climacteric”, and… that’s it? There may be more out there, but the comparison is revealing. Despite the fact that roughly half of the global population has or will one day experience menopause, the lack of nicknames demonstrates the silence, often tinged with shame, still enveloping it. In this episode, we explore the roots of this silence and the many historical misconceptions about menopause that frame our current perspective. We also examine the effect that this silence has on our understanding of the physiological processes underlying this transition. Why do some people experience symptoms and others do not? Why do humans experience menopause? What is the grandmother effect? What’s the latest on hormone replacement therapy? These are only a sampling of the many questions we delve into in this info-packed, frustration-laden, and eye-opening episode. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Ep 134 Tonsils: Underestimated and underappreciated

    Ep 134 Tonsils: Underestimated and underappreciated
    Raise your hand if you or someone you know has had their tonsils removed. If your hand is sky-high, there’s a pretty good chance that you (or that person you know) are from the US and were born before 1980. Of course, maybe that’s not the case, but tonsillectomies certainly fit in the category of 20th-century fads, along with Tamagotchis and the Atkins diet. While the procedure is still widely performed today (and for very good reasons), the frequency of tonsillectomies has dropped drastically from mid-20th century rates. In this episode, we explore why tonsillectomies became so popular, when they fell out of favor, and what about tonsils makes them worthy of removal. Tune in to be horrified by ancient tonsil removal techniques, shocked at how long it takes new knowledge to change policies, and appreciative of just how cool tonsils actually are. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Ep 133 Parvoviruses: Who let the dogs (and their viruses) out?

    Ep 133 Parvoviruses: Who let the dogs (and their viruses) out?
    This one’s not just for the dogs. It’s also for the cats, the raccoons, the wax moths, the birds, the mice, and so many other critters. Oh, and of course the humans. Even though most of us may be familiar with parvovirus through our canine friends, the world of parvoviruses is much larger. In this episode, we explore that world, focusing first on the biology of these tiny DNA viruses and how they make us sick before tracing the history of their discovery and the pandemic spread of canine parvovirus just a few short decades ago. We are joined by the amazing Dr. Steph Horgan Smith who acts as our veterinary tour guide through the animal world of these viruses and why vaccination against them is so incredibly important. Finally, we round out the episode with some of the latest research on these viruses, featuring some very cool, very promising work on using the dependoparvoviruses as a tool for gene therapy. Tune in to learn where Fifth disease got its name, what role raccoons may have played in the emergence of canine parvovirus, and so much more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Ep 132 Osteogenesis Imperfecta: All bones about it

    Ep 132 Osteogenesis Imperfecta: All bones about it
    Often, the more we learn about a disease, the more we learn about ourselves and the world around us. The story of the genetic disorder osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), colloquially known as brittle bone disease, illustrates this perfectly. As researchers continue to uncover the mechanisms responsible for OI development and progression, the better we understand the varied and crucial roles collagen plays in all parts of our biology. As historians attempt to trace how that knowledge has accumulated over time, the more we can clearly see how science rarely progresses consistently but rather erratically and is prone to interruption. And as we assess where we are with OI treatment and research today, the more apparent the gap is between knowledge and application, and just how critical lived experiences are in understanding a disease. In this episode, we explore these aspects of osteogenesis imperfecta, and we are thrilled to be joined by Natalie Lloyd, who shares her experience with OI as our firsthand account. Natalie is a New York Times bestselling author of novels for young readers, whose recently published award-winning book Hummingbird tells the story of a young girl with OI. Heartwarming, magical, and brilliant, this wonderful book is a must-read. Tune in today! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Ep 131 Parkinson’s Disease: Dopamine & discoveries

    Ep 131 Parkinson’s Disease: Dopamine & discoveries
    Parkinson’s is a disease of many dimensions. On the shelves of any bookstore or library you’ll find at least a handful of titles exploring the topic from a myriad of perspectives, and extending that search to the internet will turn up dozens upon dozens more options: how-to guides for the recently diagnosed, in-depth textbooks exploring the neurophysiology of disease development, memoirs about caregiving for people with Parkinson’s, books offering a tour through the history of research advancements. The choices seem limitless and maybe a tad overwhelming. But that’s where we come in. In this episode, we take you through many of the dimensions of Parkinson’s disease, from its complicated biology, still shrouded in mystery, to its history, peppered with transformative moments like the introduction of dopamine. We round out the episode by exploring the tremendous amount of promising research on the horizon, leaving us feeling like we’re *this* close to yet another revolution in Parkinson’s disease treatment. If you’ve ever wondered what dopamine does, who Parkinson was, and what might be next for this disease, this episode is for you. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    Ep 130 Cocoliztli: We do love a salty dish

    Ep 130 Cocoliztli: We do love a salty dish
    In the 16th century, a series of deadly epidemics swept through much of the region of Mesoamerica known as the Aztec Empire, killing untold millions. By the start of the first of these epidemics, the area had become woefully accustomed to devasting epidemic disease, as the Spanish conquistadors had introduced smallpox, measles, typhus, and influenza, among other infections. But this disease, with its tendency to induce massive hemorrhage, fever, jaundice, and rapid death, seemed different from those now familiar infections, and so was given a new name: cocoliztli. People watched in horror as cocoliztli overtook town after town, village after village, sometimes killing as much as 80% of the population and leaving nothing but desolation in its wake. Hundreds of years after the epidemics ended, debate about the pathogen responsible for cocoliztli remains. In this episode, we’re going deep down the rabbit hole of this medical mystery, linking the spread and nature of these epidemics with the characteristics of the many pathogens that have been proposed over the years. We draw from contemporary accounts, ecological analyses, and even a recent ancient DNA study to make our evaluations, but do we ever get to the bottom of cocoliztli? Tune in to find out. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

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