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TWiP 37 Letters

Cam writes:

Dick Despommier is often talking about the importance of ecology when understanding parasitism. Does he have any suggestions for good introductory texts to the subject for someone of my lowly level?

I recently came across this article, which led me to the idea of Oogst. Has Professor Despommier come across this, and how does he view it in relation to the idea of Vertical Farming?

Raihan writes:

Hello Guys,

Sorry but I wanna share a non-parasite related news story with you guys.
Came across this article about how the government in Singapore is deciding to invest in roof-top gardens here, as a measure of controlling the recent cases of flash flooding here.

When I read it, i was reminded of Dr Despommier's brain child, the Vertical Farm. I guess this is not exactly a farm but it has a lot in common and displays another way of how incorporating fauna in cities can help solve problems in an urban setting.


You guys may choose to read this email on your Vertical Farming Podcast instead of TWIP.

That should be coming pretty soon right? *cheeky grin.

Love the show

Matt writes:

Dear Dickson and Vincent,

(Not sure if I sent this to the right place on the microbe world website, but as I noticed that you gave this email address at the end of the podcasts I thought I'd try it as well...)

Thanks for your wonderful series of podcasts; I have been working my way through all of TWIP and you are currently keeping me sane whilst I data-enter several thousand clinical records from a malaria prevalence survey. I also have TWIV on CDs which I listen to in my car on my commute route to my workplace in Muheza, North East Tanzania. And I'm very excited by TWIM which I will indulge in soon.

I am a medical entomologist currently working on insecticide-treated materials against malaria vectors and have a question which I hope you'll discuss on TWIP in relation to malaria but also in a broader context. It is this: do you think we already have enough tools to control (many) infectious diseases and that funding should be channeled into improved application/delivery of those tools and away from the search for novel techniques and 'blue sky' research? For malaria, we already have a diverse arsenal of proven weapons and auxiliary tools including bed nets, indoor residual spraying, intermittent preventative treatment, house screening, rapid diagnostic tests; GPS and mobile phone systems have vastly improved surveillance, we have subsidized and highly effective frontline drugs for treatment, amazing repellents and lures for mosquitoes etc. etc. People like Fred Soper and Malcolm Watson were incredibly successful at reducing malaria 60+ years ago with a much more limited arsenal. You might say that there was much less resistance to insecticides and anti-malarial drugs in those days, but in recent times two brilliant weapons emerged that are still being used, to which there was no resistance, i.e. pyrethroid insecticides and artemisin-based combination therapy (ACTs). What do you think are the major stumbling blocks in infectious disease control? Is the health sector too slow to act on research findings*?

Many thanks and keep up the good work.

Matt, National Institute for Medical Research, Tanzania & London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

p.s. I wrote this before I saw the topic of Twip 35! I hope this question is still relevant (and I'm going to listen to that episode now once I can download it!)

p.p.s. I thought you might like to know that my two dogs are named after you! (Vincent and Dickson - jpg)

Dr Matthew J Kirby
Fieldsite Project Manager PRISM
Amani Research Centre
National Institute for Medical Research

Heather writes:

Dear Doctors R&D,

I love your podcast! It is wonderful to listen to commuting to work and while I am working as the support technician for the chemistry and microbiology teaching labs at our small state college. My favorite thing about your show is that the format is similar to the "seminar" or "journal club" courses that were my favorite in graduate school (that was back when I too wanted to be a "dr.", before I became a lapsed microscope jockey. Maybe I will go back to grad school....maybe...some day). Basically these 1-2 credit courses consisted of grad students getting together with a professor to pick apart papers in specific disciplines such as microbiology (we went over the "old" "elegant" research that was the foundation of modern microbiology), microbial genetics (we called that one "cloning club), current topics in molecular biology, current topics in elasmobranch biology, and current topics in shellfish aquaculture. My background is in fish and shellfish pathology, specifically the microbial and parasitic (and molecular aspects thereof) diseases of cultured fish and shellfish. Bearing that in mind, while I realize that you focus your podcasts on human/public health issues related to parasitism, might you consider doing an episode about epizootic parasites (or microbes or viruses) that impact humans economically and/or ecologically? Some examples that come to mind are my good friends QPX (quahog parasite unknown) or Perkinsus marinus in the New England shellfishery, "bumper car" disease in Long Island Sound lobsters, or the recent controversy surrounding the ISAV (infectious salmon anemia virus) outbreak in the Pacific Northwest. Then of course there are always parasites that are just fun for their "gross" factor like "salmon poisoning disease". Regardless if your decision regarding the discussion of parasitism of non-human animals I will continue to look forward to your TwiP, TwiV, and TwiM podcasts.

Thank you!


P.S. I read "Parasite Rex" as a freshman in college and it is still one of my favorite books!

P.P.S. "Monsters Inside Me" sometimes grosses me out, and that is saying a lot for it's accuracy!


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