Dr. Sangkon Oh is an Investigator and Adjunct Professor at the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research in Dallas. Dr. Oh studies dendritic cells, which are critical cells of the immune system that are typically the first cells to recognize invading microbes and alert the rest of the immune system to develop a protective response to eradicate the threat.  In this regard, they act as a “burglar alarm”, and by manipulating and shaping the dendritic cell response during vaccination, the immune system can be coaxed into providing protection against not just invading microorganisms, but also autoimmune diseases and cancer.    Dr. Oh discusses some of the exciting possibilities of targeting dendritic cells to vaccinate against cancer and autoimmune disease, and philosophizes whether humans can keep curing diseases until they live forever. He talks about his passion for science that led him to sleep in the lab so he could do more experiments.  The MicroCase for listeners to solve is about Sally, who got very sick after eating a can of beans.

Discussants (in alphabetical order):
Dr. Neal Guentzel (Professor and Parliamentarian of STCEID, UTSA)

Dr. Karl Klose (Professor and Director of STCEID,  UTSA)

Dr. Alex Berezow is a science reporter, he works with the American Council on Science and Health to report on scientific discoveries and current issues. He discusses some of the difficulties associated with reporting on science to an increasingly skeptical and/or distrusting general public.  In the era of fake news, conspiracy theories, and the internet, it has become increasingly difficult for scientists to convey the importance of their research, and the benefit to society.  Alex discusses how the internet both supports and undermines science, how to restore the public’s trust in scientists, and what he would be doing if he weren’t reporting on science.

Discussants (in alphabetical order):
Dr. Neal Guentzel (Professor and Parliamentarian of STCEID, UTSA)

Dr. Karl Klose (Professor and Director of STCEID,  UTSA)

Whooping cough, caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, is an extremely dangerous and potentially fatal disease for infants.  We rarely see this disease anymore because everyone is routinely vaccinated against it with the DPT childhood vaccine.  But there has lately been a resurgence in whooping cough cases, caused primarily by a reformulation of the vaccine to make it safer, which unfortunately also made it less protective against this disease.  Dr. Rajendar Deora is an Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Wake Forest University. Dr. Deora’s research involves improving the whooping cough vaccine. Dr. Deora is studying how to improve this vaccine back to pre-reformulation levels of protection, without reducing its safety. Dr. Deora discusses vaccines, whooping cough, and his scientific career choice.  Dr. Deora reminds everyone that “Vaccines Work!”

Discussants (in alphabetical order):
Dr. Neal Guentzel (Professor and Parliamentarian of STCEID, UTSA)

Dr. Karl Klose (Professor and Director of STCEID,  UTSA)
Dr. Janakiram Seshu (Associate professor, STCEID,  UTSA)