Category Archives: Expert Panel

Episodes with expert panel discussing public health topic of the month, misinformation, and how to improve public health communication

Podcast 50: The Vaccine Confidence Project with Heidi Larson & Pauline Paterson

Vaccine Confidence Project

We had a transatlantic, bi-coastal three way Skype podcast last month with researchers Drs. Heidi Larson and Pauline Paterson who co-direct the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Heidi LarsonPauline Paterson

Heidi and Pauline are globally respected and known for this unique, extensive, and broad research into understanding how we can boost the global community’s confidence in vaccines. A large piece of their work is profiling conversations from around the world and to pinpoint factors that lead to confidence or not. The other side of this coin is the term ‘vaccine hesitancy’ that describes why people do not feel confident in vaccines (a person can still vaccinate their child, but still be vaccine hesitant).

Please note: Most of this podcast has good audio quality, however, due to the Skype connection, had a few moments here and there of poor connectivity. The PHU wizards did their best to provide the best quality, please be patient as we continue to improve our Skype recording process.

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Available Episode Formats:

Related Episode Links:

Special Halloween podcast! On BS…aka Science Policy of the Presidential Candidates

Nina and Kenny
Nina and Kenny

Happy Halloween! Four scientists get together on Halloween to talk about a spooky topic: the science views of the presidential candidates! The science communication show Public Health United welcomes Dr. Bill Moss (see our previous podcast together), Dr. Katherine Fenstermacher (Hopkins), and Kenny Shatzkes (Rutgers, Eagleton Fellow) to talk about their frustration while watching the debates, the lessons they’ve learned in communicating science and policy, and how scientists and policymakers need to collaborate and reach compromises to form better science policies. I cannot even count the number of laughs we all have together. Truly a fun and informative episode on science policy during this election season! FYI, the title of this special edition podcast is based on Harry Frankfurt’s NYT best selling book, “On Bullshit” which details the difference between liars and bullshitters…listen to hear what the difference is and how destructive the latter can be!

Available episode formats:

Related Episode Links:

Check out #pubhealthchat on Twitter

Last Spring, I was voted into JHSPH Student Assembly as Vice President of Community Affairs & Public Health Promotion (excellent match for my interests!). One of the latest pushes is to get Student Assembly more involved in social media (check out our new accounts on Twitter and Instagram: @JHSPH_SA).

Through my VP role, I’ve already been able to participate in so many great activities at the school: yesterday I participated in a live Twitter session with Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Deans Mike Klag and Josh Sharfstein along with other student leaders of the school. Head over to Twitter and search for #publichealthchat to read the conversation. It was a really great opportunity to engage with the public health community on twitter, learn fun Centennial facts about the School, and become more familiar with the opportunities available in the community.  You can also head over to the blog here to read more about it.

The #pubhealthchat Team including Deans Mike Klag & Josh Sharstein along with JHSPH Historian, student leaders, Nick Engquist....
The #pubhealthchat Team including Deans Mike Klag & Josh Sharstein


Viruses gone viral: communication issues in virology research

How can we talk to the public about viruses when it’s difficult to even define what they are? Guest virology experts Drs. Gary Ketner (Johns Hopkins School of Public Health) and Barry Margulies (Towson University) discuss the perils of communicating virus research to the media, the worst virus miscommunication they’ve ever seen, and how we can make virology more accessible to the public.

Show links:
Listen to the podcast HERE or subscribe to PHU on iTunes here.

Learn the basics about viruses (great for non-scientists too) at Virology 101.

Quick and easy read on Barry’s research: “Barry Margulies and co-workers are seeking innovative ways to attack cold sores”

This Week In Virology website

Articles about the Fouchier debate:
“Origin of H5N1 Storm” by Vincent Racaniello, Read this first if you’d like to know the facts!
“Seeing Terror Risk, US Asks Journals to Cut Flu Study Facts” by Denise Grady. Balanced article for general public.
An engineered doomsday” by (author not provided). Scare-mongering at its best. Check out the comments for a laugh!
Five easy mutations to make bid flu a lethal pandemic” by Debora MacKenzie. She’s got all the facts wrong and uses scare-mongering to draw readers in.

Expert Panel 3: Let Our Powers Combine! JHSPH PhD Students Discuss Public Health Communication

Our latest episode features guests from four different departments at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health who trace public health news stories from their scientific journal source to their flashy headlines in popular news media sources. An excellent discussion ensues on how the science communication went awry and what will clue readers in to false information. We finish the episode with HOTSPOT, when guests have to spontaneously define in layman’s terms an important public health term.

Guests include PhD students: Ben Blumberg from Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Beth Linas from Epidemiology, Laysha Oslow from Mental Health, and Eric Simko from Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

*Podcast has been broken up into five parts for your listening pleasure. *Links for guest bios and articles are at the bottom.

Part 1 of 5 (31 min): Introduction followed by Beth demonstrating how an article from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute is portrayed in the New York Times.

Part 2 of 5 (9 min): Ben picks apart a recent Fox News Story on how “Lobsters Can Make Us Live Forever” …

Part 3 of 5 (14 min) : Eric shows us what NPR does right and wrong concerning the story, “Healthful Living May Lengthen Telomeres And Lifespans.”

Part 4 of 5 (20 min): Laysha talks about how the National Institute of Mental Health’s new policy on categorizing mental health disorders has ignited public interest.

Part 5 of 5 (28 min): It’s HOTSPOT time! Guests are put on the spot to explain public health jargon in a way that anyone can understand.


Bio & Article links:

Beth Linas
— News Media: New York Times, “Drinking When Young Increases Breast Cancer Risk.”
— Scientific journal source: JNCI, “Alcohol Intake Between Menarche and First Pregnancy: A Prospective Study of Breast Cancer Risk.”

Ben Blumberg
— News article: Fox News, “Lobsters May Be Answer To Immortality.” –

-“Source” quoted by Fox yet it’s actually a pay site. “Lobsters Can Help Us Live Forever.”

HowStuffWorks – at least provides references to numerous articles (albeit only 1 truly peer-reviewed)
“Science Says Lobsters Can Live For Ever, But They’re Still Delicious.”

— The original article from 1998, FEBS Letter: “Longevity of lobsters is linked to ubiquitous telomerase expression.”

Eric Simko
–News article: NPR, “Healthful Living May Lengthen Telomeres And Lifespans.”
-Sensationalized News Article:
-Critical News Artic;e –
— Journal article: The Lancet, “Effect of comprehensive lifestyle changes on telomerase activity and telomere length in men with biopsy-proven low-risk prostate cancer: 5-year follow-up of a descriptive pilot study.”

Laysha Ostrow
Biography and check out Laysha’s project, Lived Experience Research Network (LERN)
Summary of topic: NIMH’s new policy on RDoC, how that has ignited public interested in the validity of psychiatric diagnoses in the DSM, and the research base for both of the things (both very limited)–and how that relates to access to care and civil rights/public perceptions of “mental illness.”
–News Article, NYT: “Most will be Mentally Ill at Some Point, Study says”
–Journal Article, Archives of General Psychiatry, PubMed record:
-NIMH Director’s Blog “Transforming Diagnosis”
-RDoC referenced in Insel’s blog
–Video of Leonard Roy Frank at Occupy APA 2013:
— Click the following for: Joint Statement from APA and NIMH on Shared Interests and APA Statement Re: Dr. Insol’s Blog


-American Psychiatric Association:–psychiatry
-What is the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)? Wikipedia
-NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health):

Malaria, Safari Science, & Global Public Health Spending


Rhoel Dinglasan & Clive Shiff
Rhoel Dinglasan & Clive Shiff, Malaria Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (1)

We are pleased to announce Expert Panel #2:
“Malaria, Safari Science, & Global Health Spending” recorded on  May 3, 2013. Guest experts Drs. Clive Shiff (JHMRI), Rhoel Dinglasan (JHMRI), & Jim Webb (Colby College) share diverse perspectives on why malaria is so hard to control.

To listen to the podcast, right click to download or click to stream. Also available on iTunes here.

Nina for one is new to the International & Global Health fields. If you are in the same boat, the following links will be helpful to understand the discussion. An article on vertical versus horizontal public health programs is also in the works.

Malaria and other global infectious diseases: why should we care? by Sean Murphy
Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute: Life Cycle of The Malaria Parasite & links to researchers at JHMRI
Dr. Rhoel Dinglasan’s Lab Website:
What is the Roll Back Malaria Partnership?
History of Public Health Timeline, Interactive Map by The North Carolina Institute for Public Health
“In pursuit of better global health, should we follow a horizontal or vertical approach?” by student blogger at NYU-Wagner/Global Health Policy class
Free Online Global Health Course: Module 4: Eradication Efforts: Malaria versus Smallpox
Dr. Jim Webb’s Book: Humanity’s Burden: A global history of malaria

Jim Webb pic

Jim Webb pic

(1) Photo courtesy of Johns Hopkins Magazine article featuring Clive & Rhoel.

Historical Epidemiology of Malaria Control

What can current malaria and other public health researchers learn from past eradication attempts? This is the subject of last week’s Friday Malaria Seminar at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute given by guest speaker Dr. James L.A. Webb Jr., PhD, MA, Professor, Colby College, Department of History. His talk, “The Historical Epidemiology of African Malaria 1945 – 1965,” gives us a sneak peak at his newest book coming out next year. Introduced by renowned malariologist, Dr. Clive Shiff. NB: Dr. Webb is Nina’s former undergraduate adviser, mentor, and friend and is also featured on this month’s Expert Panel #2 podcast along with Drs. Shiff & Rhoel Dinglasan.

Click here to listen or right click to download. Available on iTunes here.

Here’s Dr. Webb’s page at Colby College and here’s his website with links to his book Humanity’s Burden: A Global History of Malaria.

Jim Webb pic

Episode 1: Public Health Miscommunication

Episode 1 is now available!

Right click to download or click to stream

Episode 1 Summary:
How often do we feel like we are public health experts after seeing a five minute blurb on CNN/NPR, or worse, reading a summary on Wikipedia? We then feel confident to go out into the world and spout our knowledge and make health decisions. The power of the press is mighty, especially now that anyone with access to the Internet commands more public health information than ever before. But of course, not all of the information is accurate, even information from high profile institutions like CNN. On the flip side, scientists are not often communicating directly with the public, but leave media sources to interpret and summarize highly technical scholarly articles. These media sources are experts at making science into an exciting news story, but how accurate is this relay of information? How can we tell the good from the bad? And what is our role as public health researchers in the dissemination of good public health information?

Episode 1 was recorded on 3/27/13 and features Nina Martin, Dr. Andrew Pekosz, Dr. Steven Salzberg, and Dr. Photini Sinnis.

Guest Info:
Andrew Pekosz, PhD is an Associate Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is most known for his work on flu vaccines and has been interviewed by many news shows (i.e. CNN, BBC, CSPAN, NPR, Discovery Channel) to dispell common misinformation about the flu vaccine.

Website          Bio

Steven Salzberg, PhD is a Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University. He is the director of Johns Hopkins’s Center for Computational Biology. He also blogs at the Forbes column Fighting Psuedoscience and Genomics, Medicine, and Pseudoscience.

Website          Bio          Blog          Column

Photini Sinnis, MD is an Associate Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Member of the Malaria Research Institute at Hopkins. Her research focuses on the early events in malaria infection. Dr. Sinnis’s training as a physician has made her think a lot about communication with the public.

Website          Bio