TWiM 37 Letters

Pat writes:

Hi Vincent,

I'm a regular TWIM listener and Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology (I enjoyed your visit last semester).  I was also heavily involved in much of the data analysis for the Human Microbiome Project.  As I was unable to attend the ASM General Meeting, I cringed when you and your co-hosts described the human microbiome talks at ASM as being glorified data dumps (TWIM #36).  This is most unfortunate!  I was wondering whether you might be willing to have a guest, say…  me to help get the general microbiologists through the weeds.  As a former postdoc in Jo Handelsman's lab, I can tell you that I am very interested in making computational concepts more engaging and feel that we have an important job as scientists to view our research mission as part of our teaching mission.  Anyway, if you're ever interested, please know that you have a standing offer from a  microbial ecologist / bioinformaticist to help your listeners get excited about this amazing topic.

Pat Schloss
Department of Microbiology & Immunology
University of Michigan

Mark writes:

Hello, Vincent, Michael, and Elio (and the other contributors!):  I want to thank you so much for these podcasts.  I have been having to sit around in traction for a pinched nerve a couple of times a week, and listening to TWiM enriches my mind while I feel like a science fiction character!  Better than watching television, in any case.

I really appreciate the interactions and information that are presented in all of your podcasts, but the comments on the ASM General Meeting (which I had attended, too),in TWiM 36 resonated.  The new "card" format for the posters was indeed wonderful for forgetful people like myself, and I have to agree strongly with Vincent's comment (and Elio's quite gentle criticism) of systems biology:  things are getting so complicated that few people can be generalists. I used to worry about "eukaryocentricity" in biology, but clearly I need to start worrying about "colicentricy."  I too thought that third slide at the opening session was a backgrounder for Salmonella phase variation---but decided I must not be "getting it," since the speaker was so clearly brilliant and engaged.  So a solid background becomes vital, even for MacArthur Genius Grant Online Casino winners, as our field sprints (it no longer marches!) forward!

One final thing.  I will be trying to introduce my undergraduates to TWiM in my Fall microbiology course.  The podcasts give an engaging and current "feel" for microbiology (I was going to say the "ferment" of microbiology, but I restrained myself).  While my students might not want to listen for an hour, we do discuss journal articles...and I intend to assign some of the ones you have been covering, with the relevant TWiM assigned as "background listening."  Extra credit points often focus attention like a laser, I find.

Best wishes to all, and thanks for what you do.  Hope to see some discussion of microbial endocrinology at some point?

-Mark Martin

P.S.  The human microbiome descriptions are indeed hard to follow!  I half-expect to see advertisements for entero-Harmony, the dating service that matches people based on their enterotypes.  Hmm.  What about antibiotics then?  Best wishes, MM

Spyros writes:


I heard you read my email on the last TWIM and I was super excited. Really excited.  And it looks like from the comments on the panel it's something you guys would like to pursue.  Please let me know when or if you guys get the time.

I am up to the ICAAC podcast, but i have listened ahead to the most recent ones obviously.  The podcast keeps talking about probiotics and the benefits, and I'm truly interested in them.

however I'd like to point out a recent MedWatch release and here is the link

this isn't the kind of pharmaceutical I manufacture but it's interesting nonetheless to me, and this is an example of what happens when things go very wrong in my industry, a lot of folks can get hurt, each unit is going into a person and I treat each one like a person.

Also I hope you guys mention what's going on in Cambodia, I saw 65 illnesses on CNN and no cause for it right now.  Of course that may have changed, I have had a horrendous day of travel and have been out of touch with the news, but the new can't do as good a job as you guys can discussing this latest issue.

Again thanks, look forward to hearing future podcasts and hearing from you guys.

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