This Week in Parasitism

13 November 2009

twip_200The first episode of our new science podcast, “This Week in Parasitism“, is now available.

This Week in Parasitism (TWiP) is a podcast about eukaryotic parasites hosted by Vincent Racaniello and Dick Despommier. Following in the path of their podcast ‘This Week in Virology’ (TWiV), they strive for an informal yet informative conversation about parasites which is accessible to everyone, no matter what their science background.

As science Professors at Columbia University, they have spent their entire academic careers directing research laboratories focused on parasites (Dick) and viruses (Vincent). Their enthusiasm for teaching inspired them to reach beyond the classroom with new media. TWiP is for everyone who wants to learn about parasites in a relaxing way.

On episode 1 of TWiP, Vincent and Dick provide an overview of parasites and parasitism.

Download TWiP #1 (41 MB .mp3, 57 minutes)

Subscribe (free) in iTunes, by the RSS feed or by email

Send your questions and comments to twip@twiv.tv

  • Etienne

    Great first episode, but once a month doesn't seem enough. Maybe every 2 weeks?

  • http://www.virology.ws profvrr

    Glad you liked it. The second episode will be out in two weeks. If
    there is enthusiasm for TWiP we will certainly consider a more
    frequent schedule, perhaps at the expense of one TWiP episode a month.

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  • Hussein

    A very promising 1st episode. Thanks very much. Looking forward for more episodes and hope it becomes more frequent.

  • Mike8

    Hi Professor, Great first podcast. I'm glad you began with the basics. You answered many questions I've been wondering about, such as: Are archaea infectious? What range of parasites exist and why are they here? What IS a parasite? …I also enjoyed the brief recounting of your professional career, especially during the early years. I look forward to future episodes and would like to hear more about mycoplasma and rickettsia. And, if you feel so inclined, it would be interesting to hear a further discussion of the limitations on host populations caused by parasites, vs. the limitations caused by predators, habitat and availablity of food.

  • william lerette-kauffman

    Dear Vincent Racaniello and Dick Despommier,

    The long awaited TWIP inaugural episode fully met my TWIV set expectations. Though I might be delusional due to some pathology, I this shows appeal to match or even exceed TWIV’s. So allow me to start the clamoring early for increased episode frequency, assuming you have the time to produce them.

    I find parasitism fascinating and profound. On TWIV we've been compared to mobile microbial habitats. Isn't our very existence still thought due to structures that originated as a type of parasitism such as mitochondria?

    And lest you have any doubt regarding the widespread public appeal, note the popularity of parasitic monsters that haunt the public imagination such as Alien, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (doesn't this count), zombies, and even vampires (aren't vampire bats parasites?).

    I sincerely appreciate your wonderful creative efforts that succeed in bringing the wonder of science to both the public at large and subject area experts alike.

    Respectfully yours,
    William LeRette-Kauffman

  • Richard

    Guys, please make it every 2 weeks! I think listeners of TWIV won't mind at all if 1 episode is sacrificed in the name of TWIP. Hope to hear more from TWIP soon

  • jenniewilliams

    I agree with the others that every 2 weeks would be delightful and not enough. In your most recent continuation of the saga of trichonella spiralis complete with all of the things that go into a wonderful narrative (poor Andre…who was Swedish!) I was happy to hear that there is another RN out there is is undergoing a philosophical/scientific transformation facilitated by the seductive voices of these 2 scientists (and others, since I'm a fan of Persiflager's Puscast etc). I was actively pursuing herbalism in a poetic locale when H1N1 came around, causing me to re-examine my ideas about inflammation and the immune system.
    I'm also an artist, in fact, not sure which aspect of me is more present when I listen to your cast. At the moment I'm reading Lyn Margulis' 5 Kingdoms – comparing it to the beloved CJ Hylander's 1942 World of Plant Life and painting what I think about. I've been thinking about received/unchanging cultural wisdom (herbology and art created by indigenous cultures for example) in comparison to the scientific dynamic evolution of knowledge (and art produced by people in our modern culture).
    Coming up, I'm planning a series of totemic paintings on the immune system, reading Roitt's Immunology – but these crazy parasites have got me side tracked.
    Thanks for your wonderful contribution to my knowledge, enjoyment and psyche.
    Yours
    Jennie

  • rufusknapp

    Gentlemen:

    I love the pod cast. Regarding TWIP #6 e-mails & “I know of no infectious cancers” . Wikipedia notes four papers papers on the topic. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil_facial_tumou….

    A fifth case I recall from a popular article on the topic reported on an interesting conjecture and a very ill-conceived test early(ish) in the history of Western medicine. Test that cancer is not infectious. Transfer of breast cancer cells from a mother to a daughter — in a human experiment. Bad end. Couldn't find a citation. See also http://www.springerlink.com/content/y278632tjk5…. http://www.revistanefrologia.com/revistas/P1-E1….

    All seem to be pretty special cases of transmission of cancer in the context of close relation / inbreeding or compromised immunity and not of a robust long term parasitic relationship between host(s) and a parasite. But there does seem to be an analogy to plant virus that are transferred by various types of trauma.

    The devils, they bite each other.

    Best regards,

    Rufus Knapp
    Portland, OR

    SW Engineer.

  • rufusknapp

    Gentlemen:

    I love the pod cast. Regarding TWIP #6 e-mails & “I know of no infectious cancers” . Wikipedia notes four papers papers on the topic. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil_facial_tumou….

    A fifth case I recall from a popular article on the topic reported on an interesting conjecture and a very ill-conceived test early(ish) in the history of Western medicine. Test that cancer is not infectious. Transfer of breast cancer cells from a mother to a daughter — in a human experiment. Bad end. Couldn't find a citation. See also http://www.springerlink.com/content/y278632tjk5…. http://www.revistanefrologia.com/revistas/P1-E1….

    All seem to be pretty special cases of transmission of cancer in the context of close relation / inbreeding or compromised immunity and not of a robust long term parasitic relationship between host(s) and a parasite. But there does seem to be an analogy to plant virus that are transferred by various types of trauma.

    The devils, they bite each other.

    Best regards,

    Rufus Knapp
    Portland, OR

    SW Engineer.

  • paulbarry

    Twip is a great podcast. I had the good fortune of taking a parasitology course with Dr. Larry Penner when I was an undergraduate Biology student at UCONN. It was the toughest and best course I have taken in my life. It opened my eyes to the intricacies of life. Dr. Penner gave lectures, and then we had the labs. The labs and the hours of microscopy were superb. He would sit down next to you by the light microscope, ask you what you were seeing, and grill you about what you thought you knew.

    Only ten or so students were in that class. No one gave a shit (so to speak) about parasitology, apparently, except a few weird students. I learned a lot, and I have fond memories of this excellent teacher, and this fascinating subject.

    Twip and Twiv have brought me back to the exciting days of learning in my undergrad days. Thank you Drs Vince and Dickson for keeping science exciting with your superb podcasts.

    I would like to hear a podcast about Onchocerciasis, as I am now an eye doctor. Could you do one on that? And bilharzia. And toxoplasmosis. And larval migrans. And….well, we will always have an episode!

    Thanks,
    Paul

    P.S. At the time, in 1983, Dr. Penner was teaching us as a Professor Emeritus. Getting taught by a Prof. Emeritus is a privilege indeed, so I hope the students at Columbia still get to see Dr. Despommier in action for a while.

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  • Etienne

    Hello Dick and Vincent,

    I love the show and I can't wait for every new release. I find it both informative and entertaining.
    One question I have is why there is one type of parasite that seem to be missing from your discussions? Plants have parasite too and can be parasites, but they do not seem to fit in the classification system introduced in the early shows. It's true that they are not important in a disease sense but some of them have significant economical impacts.

    A common example of a plant parasite is the mistletoe that germinate and burrow in tree branches to connect to the plant circulatory system.

    A more agriculturally relevant example is the striga, a root parasite of many major crops that reduce productivity significantly.

    An other popular example is the Rafflesia arnoldii or corps flower the biggest single flower in the world. That entire genus is composed of endoparasite of a genus of tropical vines.

    I find parasitic plants a fascinating subject but sadly they seem to be to often forgotten by parasitologist. I hope TWIP will in the future approach the subject.

    Etienne

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