TWiV 297 letters

Paul writes:

I don’t mean to criticize…as a non scientist I greatly appreciate the access to the world of virology you provide. And I am sure you are on a well deserved vacation.

But, Twiv is my source for virus news.

So here we are with viruses all over the news. First the CDC can’t keep the zipper closed on it’s highest level of containment.

And now, the WHO stands ready to declare a worldwide health crisis as Ebola runs out of control.

But twiv is featuring podcasts recorded before any of this started. A great podcast, but I was hoping for a better informed insight into the headlines.

I look forward to your discussion of these important events.

Thanks.
pH

Randall writes:

I watched your documentary on the biosafety lab for Level 2,3, & 4 virus research and found it informative. As a layman, I’m puzzled by the lax safety being implemented by the medical teams that brought the two Americans with Ebola to the U.S. Why weren’t these two people left in Africa to be treated, rather than importing them back to the U.S. with a chance, even if is slim, to be carriers of an outbreak of plague?

In this video of Dr. Kent Brantly’s arrival to Emory University Hospital, I noted two startling issues that seem obvious after watching your tour film: 1) it appears that Dr. Brantly’s hood is not secured where the neck meets the shoulders; 2) where are the boots to protect the feet portion of the suits. They appear to be walking on gravel, which could easily puncture the suits. Shouldn’t he have been put either on a gurney or in a wheel chair, to protect his suit, or at least had the heavy plastic boots like you wore during your tour?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wg6yZFP9Xs4

Then, in this film, we see a newsman with a camera within feet of this sick person. This must be considered a security breach. What if he was some nut that planned to run out and stab this patient in a suicide mission to start a plague?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IJM8tuzA7E

We’ve all seen the flimsy tent with which he was transported within the aircraft. If that plane had encountered some turbulence and the plastic breached, the entire flight crew would have been exposed, or what if the worst case scenario occurred: the plane crashed in high population center? We’ve had a lot of airplane accidents lately, just to remind us that no matter how safe air travel may be, it can turn fatally wrong.

Here’s a video of that insulting tent. Do they think we are idiots? Just look at all that material that could be released during a bout of turbulence or a sudden drop in altitude when hitting an air pocket–a common event in air travel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4stN14htpnA

Then, we see a Dr. Bob Arnot being interviewed by Fox’s Judge Jeanine on the transport of these two sick people into the U.S. He’s puzzled that Brantly was transported to the U.S., rather than easily treated in Africa. As he said in this interview, “There was no medical necessity to transport him to the U.S., since he clearly is able to walk.” Why was he brought back to this country?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHAK6oX-JN4

Yet, with all this apparent lax security in both transporting these two infected people to the U.S., infected with a Level 4 deadly virus, the persons in charge don’t seem to have the same concerns as the bio safety lab in Boston. And further, I have looked at your website (twiv.tv) and there is no mention of any of this.

Can you answer me why you, twiv.tv, and your colleagues are so silent?

Robert writes:

Hello TWIV Docs,

I was listening to PRI this afternoon and heard the following song “Ebola in Town”. Thought you and the TWIV audience might enjoy it:

http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-05-28/catchy-west-african-dance-tune-carries-public-health-message-about-ebola.

I wasn’t able to find a downloadable version of the song so I can only provide the PRI link where you can listen to it. I enjoyed the TWiV episode on Ebola, especially hearing about Dr. Kuhn’s path into science and virology. Amazing!

Weather in Orange CA has been nice for the last week after we had a week of temperatures in the high 90’s to mid 100’s. Currently it’s 69 F (20 C), humidity 67%, dew point 58 F, wind SW at 14 mph. I managed to slip going down the stairs in our home and ended up with a fractured back. I’m pretty well layed up for the next few months so I will have plenty of time to start listening to the TWIv episodes from the beginning. Looks like my surfing and skiing days may have come to an end. Thanks again for all of the work you put into each TWIV episode.

Robert Kelley, (Bob)

Peter writes:

Dear TWIV team

I have a suggestion for a pick of the week:

Dr Virginia Campbell’s Books and Ideas podcast, Episode 54 an interview with Dr. Michael Saag, one of the pioneers in the battle against HIV-AIDS and author Positive: One Doctor’s Personal Encounters with Death, Life, and the US Healthcare System.

http://www.virginiacampbellmd.com/blog/interview-with-hiv-pioneer-michael-saag-md.html
The weather in Reading, UK as I write this is:
Raining
Wind speed & direction: 7mph from South West
Temp. 15°C
Humidity 68%
Pollution: Low
Pollen: Moderate

One other thing, I listened to the clip of your 1981 interview on BBC radio Science Now about your cloning of the polio virus. I am fairly sure that the Science Now host who interviewed you was Geoff Watts, he is a freelance science and medical writer and broadcaster: http://www.wcsjnews.org/users/geoff-watts

Regards

[the BBC interview with Vincent can be found here]

David writes:

Hey all,

It’s 76F (24C) and partly cloudy here in Orange County, CA right now. Just thought I’d send in this pretty neat paper and webapp that predicts the odds of someone becoming a PI. It takes into consideration things like impact factor and number of first author papers.

The article link is here, with a nifty app at the bottom: http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_magazine/previous_issues/articles/2014_06_02/caredit.a1400136

The paper “Publication metrics and success on the academic job market” is here: http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822%2814%2900477-1

The predictor, linked in the article, is here:
http://pipredictor.com/

Impact factor (IF) has frequently been discussed, and unfortunately it’s one of the few measures of academic success. If you play with the app at the bottom of the article, you can see that H-index and Max journal IF heavily influence the predicted odds of becoming a PI. I assume it also plays a major role in grant application success? Your thoughts?

Thanks for all the great podcasts.