N Equals One is a podcast about science and discovery, produced and hosted by UC San Diego Health's Communications team. In each episode, we bring you the story of one project, one discovery or one scientist. You can also find N Equals One on iTunesStitcherSoundCloud, or use our RSS feed to add us to your favorite podcast app.


Experimental phage therapy saves Tom's life

Tom Patterson, PhD, and his wife were vacationing in Egypt when he contracted a multidrug-resistant infection. He was transported to UC San Diego Health, where his life was saved by an experimental intravenous therapy with phages — viruses that kill bacteria. While this is only one patient, Patterson’s experience opens a fresh avenue of research aimed at finding alternatives to traditional antibiotics, amidst the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance.



Quantified Surgery: 3D models personalize procedures long before the first incision

When computer scientist Larry Smarr, PhD, needed part of his colon removed, he created a 3D model of his affected abdomen with colleague Jurgen Schulze, PhD, that his surgeon, Sonia Ramamoorthy, MD, could explore long before her first incision. Smarr’s successful procedure was a true “N Equals One” experiment but also perhaps a glimpse at the future of surgery.



Changing how your brain senses pain

In our last episode, we talked about the pros and cons of opioids for pain management. Here we talk to Mark Wallace, MD, about an alternative method for managing chronic pain — a type of neuromodulation called spinal cord stimulation. We also hear from a patient who has a spinal cord stimulator implanted in his back to help him manage chronic hand pain.



Tale of two crises: chronic pain and opioid abuse

Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear about the U.S.’s opioid addiction epidemic in the news. But chronic pain is an epidemic, too, and sometimes opioids are the best treatment. We talk to experts working on the front lines of both sides — palliative care pharmacist Rabia Atayee, PharmD, on the difficulties of managing chronic pain, and psychiatrist Carla Marienfeld, MD, on treating opioid addiction.



What's the deal with e-cigarettes?

What are e-cigarettes? How are they different than traditional cigarettes? Are they any better for you? In this episode, Laura Crotty Alexander, MD, a pulmonologist and researcher at UC San Diego School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, answers these questions and dispels a few myths. We also talk about vaping mice, recipe blogs, and tips for making the habit a little less dangerous.



Brain tumors — what’s old may be new again

Until she recently defended her PhD thesis, Tiffany Taylor studied glioblastoma cells and how they grow, working in the lab of Frank Furnari, PhD, at UC San Diego School of Medicine and Ludwig Cancer Research. Here she talks about how her findings might help doctors make better use of the glioblastoma treatments they already have. She also shares her career plans and hopes for increasing diversity in the next generation of scientists.



Eating healthy, with a side of science

Seems like every day there’s a new food study that contradicts the one before it: eggs are bad, eggs are good; gluten is poison, no red dye is poison! Where’s the science and what does “eating healthy” really mean? We talk to Christine Zoumas, MS, RD, senior dietitian and director of the Healthy Eating Program at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health, about what she teaches cancer patients and cancer survivors at her nutrition and cooking classes.



Cancer immunotherapy part 2: On the cusp of something great

In episode 8, we heard from rock star Rikki Rockett about his experience with cancer and immunotherapy. Here, we go deeper on this leading-edge approach, which fights cancer by boosting a patient’s own immune system. Sandip Patel, MD, the Moores Cancer Center oncologist who runs Rikki’s clinical trial, shares why he’s excited about immunotherapy and the challenges to providing these therapies to more patients.



Cancer immunotherapy part 1: Rock star Rikki Rockett shares his experience

In this special episode, Heather talks to Rikki Rockett, drummer in the band Poison, on the day he was at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health for a scan that would tell him whether or not his experimental immunotherapy had worked. Hear about Rikki’s journey through diagnosis, the recommendation that he have his entire tongue removed, and finally to a clinical trial.



Zika virus research takes off

Scott and Heather talk to three researchers about all the new information on Zika virus that has emerged in just the past few months — proof that the virus causes microcephaly, a potential explanation for how that happens, and new drug discovery efforts in collaboration with IBM World Community Grid’s crowdsourced OpenZika project. Image copyright John Liebler, www.ArtoftheCell.com . All rights reserved. Used by permission.



What makes breast milk so special? Interview with "the milk man"

Michelle and Melanie learn the science behind “breast is best” from Lars Bode, PhD, associate professor in pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine and dedicated athlete-turned-world-research-leader in human milk composition. They talk about the benefits of breast milk and how lactating mothers could hold the key to drug development for chronic, adult diseases.



The NEXT BIG THING may be very, very small

Yadira and Heather discuss nanomedicine—using tiny particles to deliver diagnostics and therapeutics—and how this approach helps overcome the biggest challenge to health care today: people. They talk to Adah Almutairi, PhD, associate professor and director of the Center for Excellence in Nanomedicine in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC San Diego.



Editing Alzheimer's genes with CRISPR/Cas9

Scott and Heather learn about CRISPR/Cas9, the hot new technique for editing genes. They talk to John Steele, a postdoctoral researcher in Larry Goldstein’s lab in the UC San Diego School of Medicine, about how CRISPR/Cas9 works and how he is using it and another leading-edge technique — induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) — to study Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.



When antibiotics stop working, what’s next?

Michelle and Heather talk about a young athlete who recently lost his leg due to an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection. How does that happen? Why do antibiotics sometimes fail? What other treatment options do we have? This episode features Ross Corriden, project scientist in the UC San Diego School of Medicine who discovered in lab and mouse experiments that breast cancer drug tamoxifen helps give the immune system a boost.


Stem cells behaving badly

Michelle and Heather discuss the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to stem cells -- everything from regenerative medicine and stem cell tourism to cancer. Features Leslie Crews, senior project scientist in Catriona Jamieson's lab in the UC San Diego School of Medicine and Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine.



What’s living in your poop?

In this episode, Scott and Heather talk about the gut microbiome — the unique constellation of microbes living inside you. We also learn about a citizen science initiative called the American Gut Project, and how you can participate. Features Daniel McDonald, former American Gut project manager, and Embriette Hyde, American Gut's current project manager and postdoctoral researcher in Rob Knight's lab at UC San Diego.
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