GNL In the News

Leaders in Infectious Disease Research Share Career Experiences

Oct 21, 2019, 16:03 PM by Connie Holubar

[UPDATED Jan. 21, 2020] See the entire podcast described below by clicking this link: This Week in Virology

The hosts of one of the most popular science podcasts in the country visited UTMB in early October to tape two hour-long podcasts with some of UTMB's most prolific infectious disease scientists.

Podcast hosts and UTMB faculty shared their experiences in front of a live audience.

Dr. Dennis Bente, an Associate Professor and scientist working in the Galveston National Laboratory, was the catalyst for the visit to UTMB by VIncent Racaniella and Dr. Richard Condit, hosts of "This Week in Virology."

The two podcasts taped included one in front of a live audience, which was attended by hundreds of students, faculty and staff. That podcast featured senior faculty members Tom Ksiazek, Jim Le Duc and Bob Tesh, who spent nearly two hours discussing exciting field work experiences and outbreak investigations they have participated in during the last four decades.  A recurring theme was the value of the international field work, as well as some concern that students and career scientists today may not get those same types of opportunities.

Panelists described field work that took them around the world, with opportunities to be on the front lines of identifying new viruses in remote villages, manage contact tracing in the midst of deadly Ebola outbreaks and collaborate with other scientists and public health professionals.

The second podcast that was taped during the visit to UTMB involved arbovirus experts who work on vector-borne diseases.  Drs Scott Weaver, Nikolaos Vasilakis, Shannan Rossi and Dennis Bente participated in a discussion of their innovative work studying mosquito and tick vectors and the diseases they carry.

While in Galveston the podcast hosts also had the opportunity to visit the Biosafety Training Center and find out just how difficult it is to work in a positive pressure suit (spacesuit).  EH&S Consultant Corrie Ntiforo led them through the process BSL4 scientists must take to don personal protective equipment that keeps them safe when working with deadly pathogens in the lab. The photo above shows Dr. Bente, Dr. Racaniella, Ms. Ntiforo and Dr. Condit during their time in the Biosafety Training Center.

The podcasts will be broadcast in January 2020 on "This Week in Virology."