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MTS19 - Ellen Jo Baron - The Challenges and Rewards of Working in the Developing World

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Dr. Ellen Jo Baron is a professor of pathology and director of clinical microbiology at Stanford University’s medical center in Palo Alto, California.  A co-author of the authoritative Manual of Clinical Microbiology, Dr. Baron and her staff in the clinical lab evaluate and advise in the development of new diagnostic technologies.  Dr. Baron has also volunteered her time as a microbiology advisor in numerous hospitals and clinics in developing countries since 1996.

In a hospital, you have to be able to diagnose infections in order to treat patients, but hospitals in the developing world that are forced to get along with inadequate and ill-equipped microbiology labs have to treat infectious disease blindly, without full knowledge of which organism is to blame and which drugs will be most effective.  These missteps cost lives.  Dr. Baron, who normally works in a modern, fully-equipped western hospital, travels to hospitals and clinics in places like Cambodia and Nepal to train staff and organize clinical microbiology labs.  She says it’s not always feel-good work for her: cumbersome bureaucracy and lack of money and equipment are constant challenges.  But experiencing other cultures and getting out of her comfort zone help make the work rewarding.


In this episode, Dr. Merry Buckley talks with Dr. Baron about her work at home and abroad, the kinds of problems she faces in under-resourced labs, and about how, as a result of her work in the developing world, she now knows more about sheep and goats than she ever really wanted to know.

To listen, click the play button next to the title of this entry. You can subscribe for free to Dr. Merry Buckley's Meet the Scientist podcast via iTunes, through the RSS feed with a podcast aggregator or feed reader, or by email alert.

Direct Download:   MTS19


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