When I was at the bench doing science experiments, bioethics tended to be an afterthought for me; in public health–which is basically deciding for communities how to best promote well-being–bioethics is (or should be) at the core. Dr. Travis Rieder, our latest podcast guest, is a bioethicist at the Berman Institute for Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University and emphasizes that we should not be making public health policy without bringing in ethical and moral discussions. Using abortion as an example, Nina and Travis discuss how we can move policy and discussions forward in a respectful way in our deeply pluralistic Democracy and society, which tend to oversimplify public health issues into black and white camps that demonize the other viewpoint. We as a society need to move past these debates to find common ground so we can make progress. What’s the common ground? Listen to find out!
Is the world prepared for the next global health threat? In our latest podcast, Dr. Tom Inglesby, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security shares with us how the Center is helping the world prepare for health threats, both natural and manmade, with evidence based policy. Originally created by D.A. Henderson, well known for his Smallpox Eradication Campaign, the Center started in the late 90’s/early 2000’s to research, create and influence evidence-based policy in face of of major health threats like anthrax, SARS, and bird flu. Nina had tons of questions about how to know if policies made by the government are evidence-based or if they are pure fear-mongering (she in particular recalls all of the questions around the Ebola quarantines in 2014 and 2015).
How does Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) help speed up equitable access to life saving vaccines like rotavirus or HPV vaccines? Mary Carol Jennings, MD, on top of being drawn to community medicine, has always felt a calling for advocacy and bringing positive change to her surroundings. Even through her rigorous medical training, she made time for helping others at all stages of her career. At IVAC, Mary Carol is lead on two projects: RAVIN, an accelerator project for equitable vaccine access to rotavirus vaccine, and developing a new project on HPV vaccine access and advocacy.
Who’s doing a great job of collecting health data and translating it into engaging public health multimedia? For many in global health, the clear leader is the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Indeed, on my first day at work at IVAC, everyone was throwing around the IHME acronym around like it was PBnJ and definitely a lol moment if you didn’t know what it stood for. I quickly found out why and had to speak to someone in the center of creation and engagement. Our latest podcast features Bill Heisel, Director of Global Engagement at IHME (which is much, much bigger that I had originally thought) and a must know for all public health lovers.
This week, Nina is joined by International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health) Advocacy and Communications Specialist Swati Sudarsan as they interview Kate O’Brien, Executive Director of the International Vaccine Access Center. Did you know vaccines can address social justice? In this episode, Kate explains that the children around the world who have the least access to vaccines suffer the most from vaccine preventable diseases – but she aims to change that. First on her list is an evaluation of the full benefits of vaccines, in an analysis she calls the “full public health value of vaccines.” She explains that vaccines not only prevent disease in an immunized child, but it can protect the people around them, can help families avert the costs of hospitalization from disease, and can even reduce an emerging crisis – antibiotic resistance.
Kate is a sitting member of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE), which advises the World Health Organization on global vaccine policy, and serves on the Gavi Board representing the Technical and Research constituency. She is a senior advisor at the Center for American Indian Health, and of course, a beloved professor in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Our latest guest is also the latest faculty addition to the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Dr. Monica Mugnier (big news: Monica won an 2016 NIH Early Independence Award which allowed her to skip the tradtional postdoctoral fellowship and become faculty right after completing her PhD work). Monica studies a kind of parasite, called a tropanosome, that causes the disease African Sleeping Sickness. They are very difficult to control for a vaiety of reasons, one of them being the focus of her work (and some very cool science) on how they can rapidly change their coats to avoid detection by our immune system (aka antigenic variation). Monica finds these parasites so cool to study because they break all of the rules (read: they don’t follow any of the classic biology rules that she learned in class). Lots of mystery and discovery!
Monica and I have a great conversation on how to make a great science presentation (and how difficult it can be to strike the right amount of info, depending on your audience). We also discuss the challenges of conveying the importance of global health science research, especially when the illness primarily impacts people on a different continent.
Our latest guest, Dean Mike Klag, has served at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health for the past decade and has worked to keep the School at the forefront of both international and community health. Dean Klag describes the roots of our school, the largest and oldest school of public health and how, owing to its biomedical roots, it is unique in that it hosts three basic science departments as well as more classic public health fields like international health, epidemiology, policy, biotstats, and mental health.
We also learn about how he got into public health and his major goals and accomplishments as dean. Dean Klag will be stepping down in June 2017.
On the latest episode, Nina teams up with her Communicating Science student Arvin Saleh and his advisor Dr. Emily Fisher to talk about the wave that’s been hitting undergraduate campuses with the aim of improving how we teach science. These new strategies, called active learning, are designed to put the learning in the hands of the student and engage in course material. We go into detail about what this is and examples in this podcast. Emily is the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Biology at Johns Hopkins University. Arvin is a junior and double major in Public Health Studies and Cellular and Molecular Biology.
Nina gets to do her favorite thing on the latest episode: talk about vaccines! Nina is back over at the International Vaccine Access Center with Director of Policy and Advocacy Communications Lois Privor-Dumm. Lois has been working on vaccine advocacy for decades to bring life saving vaccines (like the one to prevent meningitis) to countries all over the world.
Special #WorldAidsDay podcast! Our latest guest, Dr. Tom Quinn, was one of the first doctors working on HIV/AIDS here in the US in 1981 and still in the frontlines of combatting this global epidemic as Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health, Associate Director for International Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, and a consultant at a long list of places like The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), World Health Organization (WHO). Truly a champion for public health.