Epidemiology Counts – Episode 23 – “Coronavirus – Testing”

COVID-19 is surging as the United States heads into winter, with 100,000 new cases reported in a single day for the first time on the day of this podcast recording. The presence of this virus is a constant in our lives and our communities, and more and more of us have been tested for the coronavirus or are considering it. But how do you know when to get tested, which test to get, and how to interpret the results? With so much discussion of false negatives and false positives and the correct timing of testing, even the savviest of us can find it very confusing. And with the holidays approaching, some of us want to know if testing can be used to see family safely. Our infectious disease experts, Justin Lessler and Michael Mina, are back to provide their expertise on COVID-19 testing on this latest episode.

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 22 – “Maternal Mortality”

Maternal mortality is a key indicator of population health. While the leading causes of maternal death vary from place to place, most of these deaths are preventable; accordingly, most wealthy countries have reported steady declines in mortality rates over time. However, recent reports from the US suggest that maternal mortality is on the rise, prompting an abundance of concern (and media coverage) about the quality of maternal healthcare in the US. What’s behind these numbers? Is the US really in crisis? More generally, how do we make pregnancy and childbirth safer for women? In this episode, host Bryan James is joined by Nichole Austin, postdoctoral fellow at McGill University, along with Dr. KS Joseph, Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and the School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia and the Children’s and Women’s Hospital and Health Centre of British Columbia.

Note: We apologize for the sound quality of this episode which is lower than our usual standards due to technical problems during the recording.

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 21 – “Climate Change”

Hurricane and fire seasons are affecting communities across the US and globally. Over 5 million acres have burned in the Western US. Smoke from these fires reached all the way to New York and Washington DC. Natural disasters are made worse by climate change, but climate change is more than just disasters. Climate change can affect our health in a range of different ways. In this episode, host Bryan James is joined by Anna Pollack to understand how climate change affects health, along with epidemiologist and climate change expert, Dr. Brooke Anderson, Associate Professor at Colorado State University.

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 20 – “Sleep”

Sleep is essential for wellbeing and overall health.  We spend up to a third of our lives asleep and the general state of “sleep health” is an important question throughout our lifespan.  The CDC has estimated that 1 in 3 American Adults do not achieve the recommendation of at least 7 hours of sleep each night for adults aged 18–60 years. Inadequate sleep has been associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and dementia.  Bryan James and Rachael Stolzenberg-Solomon host a discussion with Neil Caporaso, a Senior Investigator in the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute about the epidemiology and science of sleep and health.

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 19 – “Cell Phones”

Cell phones outnumber people globally and they have become an important conduit through which we interact with our world, both personally and professionally. Day or night, it’s rare that our cell phone is not by our side, and yet it’s likely that you’ve been told to do precisely the opposite, due to concerns that cell phones might increase your risk of developing cancer. These concerns are partly grounded in the decisions of health authorities, including the classification of the electromagnetic fields emitted by cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Whether cell phones put our health at risk is an epidemiologic question that has been hotly debated for well over a decade. In this episode, host Bryan James is joined by Arijit Nandi and special guest Dr. David Savitz, a Professor of Epidemiology at Brown University, to distill this evidence and discuss some of the most recent recommendations regarding the health effects of cell phone use.

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 18 – “Coronavirus Q&A”

Our infectious disease epidemiology experts, Justin Lessler from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Michael Mina from the Harvard School of Public Heath, are back for a special Q&A episode of the podcast! Host Bryan James relays a compilation of your fantastic questions to the experts leading to a very insightful conversation on how to navigate the “new normal” of life during the time of COVID-19 as the lockdowns end and the US begins to reopen. We address questions related to the safety of daycare and school reopening, summer camps, swimming pools, travel, and other activities. We also address the latest on what is known on asymptomatic spread and other trends, and finally: where are we at with that vaccine?

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.