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.

Michelle Brubaker

Cancer survivorship part 2: Cancer doesn’t define you

In our previous episode on cancer survivorship, Michelle Brubaker shared her recent cancer journey. In this episode Laurie Knight, a licensed clinical social worker, and Cecilia Kasperick, breast cancer nurse navigator, of the Comprehensive Breast Health Center at UC San Diego Health, talk about how Michelle can move forward after treatment, without having her life defined by cancer. They offer tips for friends and family to help patients transition to survivorship and beyond. To learn more about Michelle's journey, check out her video at health.ucsd.edu/cancerstories

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Michelle Brubaker

Cancer survivorship part 1: A survivor's tale

When a person shows no evidence of cancer, they transition into the phase known as "survivorship." While this is a joyous moment, it can also be emotional, says Michelle Brubaker. Only recently has Michelle transitioned from breast cancer patient to survivor, and there are a lot of questions and feelings she's sorting out. As Michelle shares her story, Laurie Knight, a licensed clinical social worker, and Cecilia Kasperick, breast cancer nurse navigator, of the Comprehensive Breast Health Center at UC San Diego Health, explain survivorship. To learn more about Michelle's journey, check out her video at health.ucsd.edu/cancerstories

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Kathryn Gold

Clinical Trials 101

In this episode, we talk to Kathryn Gold, MD, a medical oncologist who specializes in the treatment of head, neck and lung cancer, about clinical trials — what they are, why someone might want to participate in one, and how they might get started.

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infant hand

Retired NICU Nurses Swap Stories

We talk to Mary Hackim and Jan Hebert about their 37-year nursing career at UC San Diego Health. They served in a variety of roles in Women & Infant Services, specializing in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Hear about their personal experiences, challenges and all the technological advancements made over the years that are now giving babies born less than a pound the chance to survive.

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Alie Astrocyte

Talking neuroscience and #scicomm with Alie Astrocyte

In this episode we talk to neuroscience graduate student Alison Caldwell, internet-famous as Alie_Astrocyte on Twitter and Neuro Transmissions on YouTube, about her research, life as a graduate student and why she thinks science communication (#scicomm) is so important.

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American Gut lab

The untold story of congenital syphilis

Congenital syphilis has been on the rise since 2001, with a sharp increase in 2014 across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although many may not think of syphilis as current public health problem, this is still a very real threat to mothers and their unborn children. Recently awarded a $150,000 grant to further study the underlying causes of this outbreak, Jennifer Wagman, PhD, an assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine, discusses some thoughts on why we might be seeing a rise in congenital syphilis and what steps can be taken to help combat this epidemic.

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UC San Diego Medical Center

Health care workers help spot human trafficking

According to the most recent data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, incidents of trafficking in the United States rose by more than 35 percent in 2016. The thought of human trafficking might conjure images of law enforcement coming to the rescue, but often times help comes from other places. The majority of victims end up in a hospital seeking treatment for conditions related to human trafficking. In this episode, we talk to UC San Diego Health employees Regina Wang, MD, Sarah Williamson, RN, and Karen Mitchell-Keels, RN, who have formed a committee to help educate health care workers about signs that may reveal that a patient is a victim of human trafficking.

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Hannah Carter

"Minority Report" for cancer

In the 2002 science fiction movie "Minority Report," Tom Cruise’s character leads a futuristic police unit that prevents crimes based on mutated humans called "precogs" who "previsualize" crimes via visions of the future. In other words, the precogs predict where and when something bad is going to happen. Far-fetched? Maybe not, at least when it comes to “previsualizing” cancer. Here we talk to computational biologist Hannah Carter, PhD, who can use data from a person’s inherited genome to help predict where their future tumor might show up, how it might behave, and how it might best be treated.

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Powered by chemo

Powered by chemo

Despite a diagnosis of stage IV pancreatic cancer and ongoing chemotherapy, Mike Levine competed in one of the most grueling of physical competitions: the Ironman World Championship. When Mike's cancer spread to his lungs he began end-of-life planning but a second opinion at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health gave him one more chance to compete in the sport he loves. In this episode, we talk to Mike, his wife, training partner and doctor about how he does it.

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DNA concept

You’re more than what’s coded in your DNA

Your genome is like a recipe book with all the recipes that a cell in your body needs to make the proteins it needs to function. Each of your 10 trillion cells has a full copy of the full recipe book. But that’s a problem — how does each cell know which recipes to use and which to ignore? For example, only skin cells need the recipe to make pigment, and they don’t need the recipe for insulin. That’s where epigenomics comes in, providing “post-it notes” in the recipe book, so each cell only uses the recipes it needs. In this episode we talk to Dave Gorkin, associate director of the new Center for Epigenomics at UC San Diego School of Medicine, about all this. He also tells us how our epigenetics can change over time, influenced by environmental factors and in turn affecting our susceptibility to disease.

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How an old asthma drug could be a new diabetes treatment

In a recent clinical trial, some patients with type 2 diabetes showed a clinically significant reduction in blood glucose after taking an anti-asthma drug for 12 weeks. Here we talk to Alan Saltiel, PhD, who led the study, about what this drug is, why it seems to help some diabetics but not others, and how his team is working to personalize diabetes treatments.

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Microbes as Medicine

We talk to Richard Gallo, MD, PhD, a dermatologist and researcher whose team recently tested a “microbiome transplant” cream on a small group of eczema patients. People with eczema tend to have more Staphylococcus aureus bacteria on their skin than those who don’t, which can exacerbate the itchiness and inflammation. Unlike traditional antibiotics, which wipe out both harmful and beneficial bacteria indiscriminately, Gallo’s approach uses good bacteria to specifically fight off the bad.

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Century-old drug tested in boys with autism

In a small clinical trial, one intravenous dose of the century-old drug suramin produced measurable, but transient, improvements in five boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Here, lead researcher Robert K. Naviaux, MD, PhD, talks with Miles McInerney, a teenager with ASD who was involved in the study but did not receive suramin, and his mother, Kim Kennedy. They discuss the trial, why Miles wanted to participate, and his concerns about changing what makes him who he is.

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Patterson and Strathdee

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.

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quantified surgery

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.

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chronic pain patient

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.

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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.

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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.

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Tiffany Taylor

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.

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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 – just eat kale! 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.

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immunotherapy concept

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.

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Rikki Rockett

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.

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Zika virus

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.

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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.

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Ada Almutairi

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.

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gene editing

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.

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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.

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Leslie Crews

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.

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American Gut lab

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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