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TWiV 158 Letters

Ricardo writes:



Ken writes:

One of your emails included the request, "For us non academics, I'd love to hear a "day in the life" episode of a graduate student, a post doc, a PI and so on."

It reminded me that, in 1999, journalist Jon Franklin wrote a long piece for the Raleigh New & Observer, To Make a Mouse, that did a great job conveying the daily life of a senior graduate student, especially the degree to which progress involves failed experiment after failed experiment.

Unfortunately, this was back when newspapers didn't leave stories on the web for long, so it seems the piece is only available as a document file from the author.

(And I'll be damned if I know how to make a link to it, but it comes up on top of searches of "To Make a Mouse Jon Franklin")


(links to a Word document)

Jen writes:

hey vince and friends! guess i should start off by saying how much i love your podcasts... i discovered twiv shortly after falling in love with viruses in my first microbiology class and have been addicted to them ever since. i was surprised to discover that such an academic subject would have its own podcast. and pleased!

anyways, i am currently a community college student and plan to transfer to a 4 year university next fall. i had been planning on majoring in biochemistry after transfer, but that was before i discovered how fascinating virology is. my question: assuming i want to get a graduate degree in a virology-related field, should i keep my current biochemistry major or should i major in microbiology/molecular biology? i'm sorry to bug you with such a trivial question but i don't know anyone else who would have any insight into this subject, and i really want to maximize my chances of getting to study something i love (viruses!). any reply would be much appreciated... and also keep the awesome podcasts coming.



Don writes:

Vincent, Dickson, Allen, and Rich,

(I hope you will allow me to address you by your first names. After all the hours I have spent with you I feel that I know you.)

I am a long time listener and believe that your podcast has made my life richer in ways that would be difficult to describe.

There is one thing that bothers me however and I hope you will indulge me for a moment.

It seems that you have a bias toward accepting research at face value without an appreciation that some research is skewed by scientist and drug companies for monetary or other considerations. Please don't take this as an aspersion or insult to the character or anyone on the podcast. In a word I guess that skepticism is what I see as sometimes missing.

Anyway, I don't think this email needs to be read online but I would like to recommend a "pick of the week" that expresses my skepticism more eloquently than I am capable of doing. It is a Ted Talk by Ben Goldacre, titled Battling bad science.


Thank you for the great podcast,


James writes:

Dear Vincent, Alan and Rich, Thank you for filling my bicycling and running time with virology discussions which are excellently informative as well as enjoyable. A combination not always to be expected from podcasts. I know that you are working on a grant proposal to generate, what I imagine is, much needed funding. I have a suggestion which might generate a small amount of discretionary funds, as well as provide some verifiable data for consideration by your advertisers. I subscribe (actually pay) for several podcasts, which the provide 'additional' material to be downloaded automatically in iTunes. I find it difficult to believe that you would not have 15 minutes of additional discussion already recorded for each podcast, that could be supplied as 'extra' listening for subscribers. The 'extra' sessions could be: 1) an additional paper that you could not fit in when in 'journal club mode'; 2) a short interview with an outside expert who did not have time to participate in the entire TWIV recording; 3) an informal discussion of points you did not think or have time to bring up during the regular TWIV discussions; 4) a breaking news item that went to press after recording the podcast, but was of sufficient interest to not wait for the next week; or, 5) shorter versions of your 'virology 101' discussions which might be easier to produce than a full hour. I would think that $2 per month for an annual total of $25, which seems reasonable to me, would also be acceptable to others. Thank you for all you instruction, laughs, insight into other topics (e.g., vertical farms) and just plain fun you bring to my week. You are even managing to teach some virology to one who never had time while in school. Best, JP

James, Ph.D.

Tim writes:

One of my friends and colleagues here in Cincinnati, Dick Ward, is now mostly retired but recently penned an autobiography about creating the rotavirus vaccine. The book is called "Deadends to Somewhere" and can be found at this link: http://christophermatthewspub.com/authors-2/richard-ward. It might be of interest to you and your listeners. While the majority of the book is about his personal struggles, and only near the end does he discuss Rotarix, in telling his story he conveys the trials and tribulations of young scientists trying to find their way and establish a niche and a purpose. It is also a lesson in serendipity in science, as his experience in viruses such as reovirus, which at the time seemed to be for naught, ultimately served him well when he found himself working with rotavirus. I had lunch with him last week and told him about TWiV, so I might have found you another listener.



Timothy P. Cripe, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor of Pediatrics

Division of Oncology

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center


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