November 16, 2015

CTOR Bites - Episode 3 - THE FOG AT BAY with Felicia De La Garza Mercer

Our latest Bite introduces 'The Fog at Bay' - a new offshoot series of personal mental health stories from academia and medicine. In this crossover episode, Dr. Felicia De La Garza Mercer discusses stress and burnout in the student population.

The Fog at Bay's complete first season is out now and features the voices of our graduate and medical school peers, as well as faculty. Stories touch on topics such as bipolar disorder, depression, and concussions. Catch it all on, iTunes, Facebook, or Soundcloud.  

November 02, 2015

65: The Enemy of my Enemy

In this episode, we learn about the war going on inside our bodies every day. We generally think of our immune systems as defending us from malicious, foreign attackers. But, as always with biology, we’re finding that it’s not that simple. In some cases, an apparent foe might turn out to be a friend, and vice versa. Here we bring you three different stories about how the immune system can be outsmarted, misdirected, and even re-engineered.

Part 1: Diplomatic Immunity
Our immune system is pretty good at hunting down most viruses. But there are a handful of viruses out there that can hide from our immune system for years. The jury is still out on what effect these dormant viruses have on our health. Surprisingly, it might be the case that some of these dormant viruses, like herpes, may actually have some positive benefits. For this piece, producer Meryl Horn talks with professor J.J. Miranda of the Gladstone Institute at UCSF, who explains his innovative approach in investigating this topic.

Part 2: A Can of Worms
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, developed countries became increasingly vulnerable to rampant immune system dysfunction, with ballooning rates of allergic and autoimmune disease. Why did this happen? A popular theory is that our hyper-clean environments, and the resulting lack of regular challenge to our immune systems - such as chronic parasitic infections - are causing our immune systems to misbehave. In this episode, producer Sam Ancona Esselmann sits down with Moises Velasquez Manoff, author of An Epidemic of Absence, to explore this dramatic rise in autoimmune and allergic diseases and to discuss the caveats of controversial therapies.

Part 3: T-Cells, 2.0
One of the reasons cancer is often so difficult to treat is because cancer cells are winning an “arms race” against our natural defenses. But what if we could give our immune system a tactical advantage? In T-cell immune therapy, T-cells are removed from cancer patients and modified so that they can hunt down specific cancer markers that they were previously unable to recognize. The T-cells, which can then both recognize and kill the cancer cells, are reintroduced into the patient. In this episode, our producer Tyler Ross sits down with scientist Levi Rupp, a member of Wendell Lim's lab at UCSF, who is hacking into our immune cells to fight cancer.

October 08, 2015

64: CTOR Bites - Good Vibrations: Love Songs from a Fly

For our second Bite, we sit down with Dr. Mala Murthy, a professor at Princeton University, who uses fruit fly songs to answer questions about how flies can respond dynamically to changing environments and how their brains are wired to carry out these behaviors.

Check out this video for a deeper understanding of Dr. Murthy's research!

More on the Murthy lab's research...

Produced by Sam Ancona Esselmann with editing help from Meryl Horn

August 12, 2015

CTOR Bites - Episode 1 - Sama Ahmed Three Minute Thesis

Carry The One Radio is now releasing shorter morsels of science in between our longer full length episodes! We call them, CTOR Bites. For our first Bite, our own Sama Ahmed summarizes 5 years of his research on evolutionary biology into exactly 3 minutes! It’s an adaptation of his award-winning entry into the University of California Three Minute Thesis competition. Stay curious!

  Produced by Ryan Jones and Sama Ahmed

July 01, 2015

Brain Meets Word: The Neuroscience Behind Communication

Tongues, songbirds and perfect fifths, oh my! Seemingly disparate subjects yes, but remarkably similar nonetheless. In this episode, we investigate some of the far corners of the neuroscience behind communication! We start with a simple question: how does the human brain coordinate all of the muscles that allow us to speak? In part 2, we learn how male songbirds perfect their mating calls and how all the single birds respond. And finally, a neuroscientist/professional opera-singer tells us about the mystery of musicality, and the science behind becoming a great musician.

Part One: “On the Tip of My Tongue”
The human brain precisely controls numerous muscles when we speak, but scientists know very little about how exactly this happens... Our producers Ryan Jones and Kate Woronowicz talk with David Conant, a doctoral student in Dr. Edward Chang’s lab at the University of California - San Francisco, about how patients with epilepsy are helping us unravel this great mystery.

Part Two: “A Bird Song to Remember”
Spring is in the air and with it, a cacophony of bird songs. But these birds aren’t born knowing how to sing. It’s only after the brain goes through complex chemical dances that these males can attract their perfect mates. Listen to Peter Chisnell talk with Dr. Gregory Ball, neuroscientist at the University of Maryland, about how hormones refine male bird songs and in turn, how these songs change birds’ brains.

Part Three: “The Sound of Music(ality)”
Practice makes perfect, but is that all it takes to become a great musician? Lynn Wang talks to Dr. Indre Viskontas, neuroscientist and professional musician, about her research studying how musicality works. At the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Indre teaches “Training the Musical Brain,” a class where students learn how to practice basic music perceptual skills. In addition, she’s interested in understanding how elements such as emotion and expression make us better musicians.

February 01, 2015

HIV - The Sneaky Intruder

Each summer, The Gladstone Institutes places high school students in some of the best labs for the study of heart disease, brain disorders, virology and immunology. The students work alongside scientists where they learn to conduct cutting-edge experiments,

This past summer, we teamed up with Gladstone to mentor two of the students, Hanan Sinada and Kainat Shaikh. After their day in the lab, they met with our producers Kate Woronowicz and Yelena Kulik to learn how to create a podcast episode about their experience. Today’s episode is written and produced by Kainat, a student at Burton High School. Kainat shares what she learned about HIV, what she called “The Sneak Intruder".

producer: Kainat Shaikh, Burton High School

January 15, 2015

Hope for Traumatic Brain Injury: Susanna Rosi

Susanna Rosi
The brain is an astonishingly complex organ. Injury to the brain in the form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cause learning and memory problems in the short-term and dementia in the long-term. Over 1.7 million individuals experience TBI in the United States every year. Unfortunately, there are currently only symptomatic treatments for TBIs. We talked to Dr. Susanna Rosi, Associate Professor at UCSF, about her research into new treatments for TBIs.

More on the Rosi Lab's research

Producer: Amanda Mason
Music credits:
From Free Music Archive,, 
“Drifts” by The OO-Ray – under CC by license