Epidemiology Counts – Episode 17 – “Coronavirus – Reopening the US”

Drs. Justin Lessler from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Michael Mina from the Harvard School of Public Heath are back for a fourth episode to discuss the coronavirus pandemic with host Bryan James. Between our first podcast in early February 2020 and this recording, the pandemic has grown from 11 cases of COVID-19 in the US to over 1.3 million known cases and 84 thousand deaths in the US. After 2 months of shelter-in-place lockdown measures throughout most of the country, many states and cities are beginning to reopen their economies, raising concerns of a second wave of the pandemic. This discussion focuses on how to reopen the country safely; the significance of both virology and serology testing for surveillance; and some helpful advice on how to keep yourself and your family safe during the pandemic.

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 16 – “Depression and Anxiety”

Depression and anxiety disorders remain among the most common and destabilizing health conditions worldwide. As the COVID-19 epidemic progresses, mental health has emerged as a principal concern, given the increase in social isolation, trauma exposure, and grief and bereavement, among other exposures. Today, Bryan James hosts a discussion with we talk with Katheleen Merikangas, Senior Investigator and Chief of the Genetic Epidemiology Research Branch in the Intramural Research Program at the National Institution on Mental Health, and Kerry Keyes Associate Professor from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, for a discussion of depression and anxiety – what these concepts mean, how and when they are clinically useful, and how we anticipate that COVID-19 will change the landscape of psychiatric diagnosis and treatment.





Epidemiology Counts – Episode 15 – “Coronavirus (Update)”

The coronavirus outbreak is now a global pandemic and the US is ground zero for the COVID-19 crisis. Drs. Justin Lessler from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Michael Mina from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Heath are back to discuss the latest developments with host Bryan James. They address whether social distancing is helping to “flatten the curve” and why we have turned to more drastic measures such as work-from-home orders and school closings to really drop “the hammer” on the spread of the virus, as well as where we are at with a testing and masks. How long do the experts think we need to continue these mitigation measures, and do we have a plan for what to do when they end to prevent a second peak?

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 14 – “Infertility”

Infertility is increasingly common, and it is likely you know someone who has experienced infertility or may have experienced this yourself. Given that this is a very stressful time for couples and that treatments can be very expensive, couples often try everything they can to improve their fertility. There is a lot of advice out there for what you should and should not be doing to improve fertility. But what does the actual science say? What are the things proven to help couples get pregnant? What should be avoided? What about supplements? At what point should you see a doctor? What usually happens at the initial infertility treatment workup? In this episode, host Bryan James is joined by two experts to provide both the epidemiological and clinical perspectives on this topic—Drs. Enrique Schisterman and Jessica Zolton from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 13 – “Coronavirus (Follow-up)”

Twenty days after releasing episode 12 “Coronavirus”, host Bryan James follows up with two experts in infectious disease epidemiology, Dr. Justin Lessler, Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Dr. Michael Mina, Assistant professor of Epidemiology and Immunology at Harvard School of Public Heath, and a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The following links are resources referenced by Dr. Lessler and Dr. Mina on the episode:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov

World Health Organization: www.who.int

Real time numbers on confirmed cases and deaths: https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6

Blog post on how to prepare for this pandemic: https://virologydownunder.com/past-time-to-tell-the-public-it-will-probably-go-pandemic-and-we-should-all-prepare-now/

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 12 – “Coronavirus”

The novel coronavirus outbreak originating in Wuhan, China has sickened tens of thousands of people and the number of cases is growing as of this recording. The World Health Organization has declared a global health emergency and countries around the world have enacted travel restrictions and public health measures to contain the outbreak. The situation is changing rapidly and the public is understandably concerned. We recorded this podcast to provide the most timely information on what is known about the novel coronavirus outbreak including: How infectious is the virus? How deadly? How does it compare to other recent outbreaks such as SARS? What are reasonable precautionary measures to keep ourselves safe? Host Bryan James speaks with two experts in infectious disease epidemiology, Dr. Justin Lessler, Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Dr. Michael Mina, Assistant professor of Epidemiology and Immunology at Harvard School of Public Heath, and a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 11 “Screentime”

Screen time has been blamed for health issues ranging from sleep disturbances, to depression, and obesity. But how much do we actually know about how media use affects health? Are some people more at risk than others? What role does the content of what we watch play in these health outcomes? Can screen time be beneficial? In this episode, host Bryan James is joined by Anna Pollack to explore this topic, along with media time expert Dr. Jenny Radesky, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan.

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 10 “Exercise”

As the new year approaches, many people (epidemiologists included!) will resolve to begin exercising more. Making a renewed commitment to exercise is among the most common New Year’s resolutions. Although almost everyone knows they should be exercising, there is a lot of confusion about how much exercise we really need to stay healthy. Does the amount or type of exercise you need depend on whether you’re exercising to lose weight or exercising to stay healthy? Should you be adding a fitness tracker to your gift list? Are you ever ‘too old’ to lift weights? In this episode, new host Bryan James is joined by Hailey Banack to explore these, and other, interesting topics with physical activity expert Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 9 “Opioids”

We are in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic. More American lives have been lost to drug overdoses than were lost either at the height of the AIDS epidemic, or during the Vietnam war. There has been a lot of recent debate about what has caused this epidemic, and to what extent is the pharmaceutical industry at the root of this problem. Yet a lot of questions remain about this issue. Why do we say we are in the midst of an epidemic, and how has this epidemic evolved? How has the opioid overdose epidemic affected US life expectancy? What factors have contributed to this problem, and what role has the pharmaceutical industry played? Are we seeing the same problem in other countries? What is being done to address the opioid overdose epidemic, and how effective are these different types of approaches? In this episode, guests Dr. Magdalena Cerdá, Director of the NYU Center for Opioid Epidemiology and Policy, and Dr. Noa Krawczyk, Assistant Professor of the NYU Department of Population Health, join Matt Fox to discuss these fundamental questions and to offer some thoughts on ways forward to address this critical public health problem.

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 8 “Gun Violence”

Gun violence is endemic in the United States. It’s become a politically polarized topic and the discourse, which tends to focus on mass shootings, is replete with misinformation. Key questions underlying this debate are inherently epidemiological and population research can help separate fact from fiction. For example, what does the data tell us about trends in gun ownership and gun violence in the United States? To what extent are gun deaths attributable to mass shootings and murders versus gun suicides? What policy levers regulate gun ownership and use, and what do we know (and not know) about their impacts? In this episode, guest Dr. David Hemenway, Director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, joins Matt Fox and Arijit Nandi in grappling with these fundamental questions, and tries to bridge the gap between the perceived and actual reality of gun violence in the United States.