This Week in Virology (TWiV) is a podcast – or netcast, as some prefer to call them, since you don’t need an iPod to listen – about viruses. It was begun in September 2008 by Vincent Racaniello and Dick Despommier, two science Professors at Columbia University Medical Center. Their goal was to have an informal yet informative conversation about viruses which would be accessible to everyone, no matter what their science background. We wanted to eventually bring other virologists into the conversation, to make it more varied and interesting. Alan Dove, a science writer, joined us late in 2008, and Rich Condit, a poxvirologist, joined in 2009. We’ve had a number of guests on the show and we’re always trying to get more.
Why are we doing this? Dick, Rich, and I have spent our entire academic careers directing research laboratories, so we have a lot of knowledge to share. Plus, we both enjoy teaching. Put those two things together, and you have TWiV. If you want to learn about viruses in a relaxing way, then TWiV is for you.
Vincent, Dick, and Alan converse about hantavirus spread by large deer mice, why the 1918 influenza virus replicates in the lower respiratory tract, measles in Europe, and the growing resistance of influenza virus to antivirals.
Vincent and Alan discuss a viral upper respiratory tract infection, transmission of H5N1 influenza virus, death of an HIV denialist, and the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
PLoS Pathogens paper on transmission of H5N1 influenza virus. Ebola outbreak in DRC reported by ProMedMail. Death of HIV denialist. BioCrowd, a network for bioscientists. Molecules, the iPhone/iPod Touch app to display molecules.
Vincent, Alan, and Angela discuss Kuru, prions in milk, ancient lentiviruses found in the chromosomes of lemurs, a respiratory syncytial virus vaccine failure in the 1960s, and recent outbreaks of H5N1 influenza in chickens.
D. Carleton Gajdusek obituary in the NY Times. We forgot to mention that he won the 1976 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on Kuru.
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. Let us know what you think were the top virology stories of 2008.
Vincent, Alan, and Jeremy discuss why certain AIDS patients, called ‘elite controllers’ or ‘long-term non-progressors’, do not develop disease, why mosquitoes infected with Sindbis virus remain healthy, and the continuing outbreaks of norovirus gastroenteritis.
Vincent and Dick recall the discovery of Lassa virus in Africa in 1969. A non-fictional account of the story, ‘Fever’, written by John G. Fuller and published in 1974, inspired Vincent to become a virologist. Part of the story took place at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital (now Columbia University Medical Center), where both Vincent and Dick are employed. Dick remembers many of the key players in this medical drama.
Vincent and Dick converse about warfare preventing immunization of 120,000 children in Afghanistan, bone marrow transplant curing AIDS patient, Google tracking flu, measles outbreak in Gibraltar, using viruses to make batteries, and small mosquitoes and Dengue.
Article on using viruses to make batteries (PubMed: Virus-enabled synthesis and assembly of nanowires for lithium ion battery electrodes).
Science podcast pick of the week: NY Times Science Times (iTunes link).
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An article on how World of Warcraft became a model for the transmission of virus infections was published in Lancet Infectious Diseases. The title of the article is “The untapped potential of virtual game worlds to shed light on real world epidemics.”
After we did the netcast we learned of a game for the iPhone called ‘Virus’. In this game your body is infected with a virus, and you must clear the infection by controlling white blood cells. The game is at the iTunes App store.