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Science Podcasts

Evidence and experts to help you understand today’s public health news—and what it means for tomorrow.

Evidence and experts to help you understand today’s public health news—and what it means for tomorrow.


United States


Evidence and experts to help you understand today’s public health news—and what it means for tomorrow.




405 - International Finance for COVID Vaccines

Prior to COVID-19, the world had the capacity to produce about 5 billion vaccines a year. In the age of COVID, much greater capacity is needed. The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, or DFC, is a little-known federal agency making big investments to build the global vaccine pipeline. DFC’s chief operating officer, David Marchick, talks with Dr. Josh Sharfstein about these efforts and their impact.


404 - How Colombia Weathered One of the World’s Most Severe COVID-19 Outbreaks

Throughout the pandemic, Colombia has fared better than other South American countries in terms of hospital overload and deaths, due in no small part to its emphasis on testing, contact tracing, and isolating of positive and suspected cases. Hopkins health economist Dr. Antonio Trujillo talks with Dr. Josh Sharfstein about Colombia’s pandemic strategies, and his research calculating the ROI of testing, tracing, and isolating both in terms of dollars and lives saved.


403 - World AIDS day: The Impacts of the COVID Pandemic on the HIV Pandemic

In the more than 40 years since HIV was first detected there have been incredible advances in testing, prevention, and treatment. But COVID-19 disrupted global gains and will continue to cause backslides until vaccinations are much more widespread. In recognition of World AIDS Day, infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. Chris Beyrer talks with Stephanie Desmon about where the HIV pandemic currently stands in the US, Africa, and around the world.


Bonus - The Omicron Variant

How did omicron come to the world’s attention? Why is this variant generating so much concern? Is it expected that vaccines will provide substantial protection? What can governments do to protect their populations? What can people do to protect themselves? Dr. Josh Sharfstein talks with Hopkins virologist Dr. Andy Pekosz about all things omicron.


Special Episode: Public Health In The Field—The Supreme Court and Abortion in Mississippi

A potentially landmark battle is in play over abortion rights, and it’s headed to the U.S. Supreme Court on December 1. In a special episode of the podcast, guest hosts Annalies Winny and Alissa Zhu explore the real life public health impacts of abortion policy on parents and families and how the upcoming Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization could have major stakes for the future of abortion rights in the U.S. Read more about the public health case for abortion...


401 - School in the Time of COVID: A Tour Of Hampstead Hill Academy

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Principal Matt Hornbeck of the award-winning Baltimore City public school Hampstead Hill Academy has been on the podcast to talk about how the school community coped with closures, virtual and hybrid learning, scheduling changes, learning losses and more. Today for a very special episode, Principal Hornbeck invites Dr. Josh Sharfstein to visit the school in person and see how things are going. Note: This episode was recorded before vaccines were authorized...


400 - Can Spillover—How Viruses Move From Animals to Humans—Be Prevented?

SARS-CoV-2, like other zoonotic diseases, originated in animals before “spilling over” into humans. Dr. Raina Plowright of Montana State University studies these events and the complex series of things that have to happen for them to take place. Dr. Plowright talks with Dr. Josh Sharfstein about how these occur, why these events are relatively rare, and what’s important to understand about them so we can learn how to prevent them from happening.


399 - Aaron Dante, Host of the Award-Winning No Pix After Dark Podcast, Talks COVID with Dr. Josh Sharfstein

Today’s episode is a collaboration with one of Baltimore’s top podcasts, No Pix After Dark, and host Aaron Dante. No Pix After Dark is a culture and community-based podcast sharing real people’s stories, and has been the Baltimore Sun’s Best Podcast for the last two years. For this episode, Aaron’s listeners submitted questions about COVID-19 and Dr. Josh Sharfstein talks through some answers. They also discuss Baltimore’s unique response to the pandemic and how to think about safe...


398 - Public Health In Crisis

Throughout the pandemic, public health officials have been threatened, assaulted, fired, or forced to resign. Lindsay Smith Rogers speaks with Dr. Beth Resnick, senior scientist at Johns Hopkins and the cofounder of the STOP! Partner Group, and Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, Health Officer of Anne Arundel County in Maryland, about the treatment of some officials and their teams, how some states have passed laws restricting public health authority, and why it’s critical to address these issues now...


397 - How Reducing Salt Could Reduce Chronic Diseases

Most adults consume 50% more than the daily recommended amount of salt which, in excess, contributes to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, sexual dysfunction, pregnancy complications and more. Dr. Susan Mayne, Director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the FDA, talks with Stephanie Desmon about a change in guidelines for sodium intake and how even a modest reduction by food producers can mean huge impacts for public health.


396 - Special Guest: The Assistant Secretary For Health, Admiral Rachel Levine

Admiral Rachel Levine, MD, is the Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services—the “connective tissue” of all the divisions of HHS including the FDA and CDC—and a four-star admiral for the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. As assistant secretary, Dr. Levine focuses on coordinating the HHS response to priorities like COVID-19, health equity, mental health and substance abuse, and climate change. Dr. Levine is also the first transgender official to...


Bonus - Denmark and COVID-19

Thanks to widespread testing, vaccinations, and adherence to masking and social distancing, Denmark was able to lift most COVID restrictions in late summer. Now, with a recent uptick in cases the country considers next steps. In a bonus episode, Dr. Gunhild Waldemar, a health care advocate for the elderly in Denmark, talks with Stephanie Desmon about the country’s successes, what’s behind some of the regional variations in vaccinations, and lessons learned about elder care from the early...


395 - The Health Care Situation in Afghanistan

From the first Taliban government exit in 2001 to 2015, Afghanistan went from having some of the worst indicators for health in the world to dramatic improvements in maternal mortality and childhood malnutrition. But when the Taliban stepped back into power in August of this year, thousands of health clinics were shuttered almost overnight and outcomes for women and children already look much worse. Afghanistan-born Dr. Nadia Akseer, a Johns Hopkins scientist in International Health, talks...


BONUS: Checking In With A COVID Long-hauler

Back in February, Jim Golen, a nurse in Minnesota, was on the podcast talking about his agonizing experiences as a COVID-19 long-hauler. Today, Stephanie Desmon checks in with Jim to see how he’s doing nearly 19 months after contracting COVID in March 2020. If you or someone you know if suffering from long COVID, please consider taking a short survey as part of the Johns Hopkins COVID Long Study:


394 - The State of COVID On Campus At The University of Michigan

Dr. Preeti Malani, the University of Michigan’s Chief Health Officer, was a guest on the podcast back in the spring of 2020 and again in the fall of that year talking about how COVID-19 had affected Michigan’s oldest university. Dr. Malani returns to talk with Dr. Josh Sharfstein about how vaccines have made a stark difference for a return to campus this fall, what life looks like on the North Quad and in the residence halls, and how the school is centering the well-being of students who...


393 - Friday COVID Q&A With Dr. Amesh Adalja

If a vaccinated person is exposed to COVID but doesn’t get sick, does that affect that person’s immunity? Is weekly testing for unvaccinated coworkers really sufficient to protect everyone? Are any new variants keeping you up at night? Should people switch vaccines for their booster doses? Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and Josh Sharfstein address COVID-19 questions submitted to


BONUS - How A Program that Connects Pediatricians With Schools Helps Prevent Chronic Absenteeism in Washington, DC

Children miss out on opportunities when they’re not in school, and chronic absenteeism can actually affect their health and well-being throughout their lives. Guest host Andrea McDaniels, the Director of Communications for the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, talks with two leaders at Children’s National Hospital who are part of an innovative program to share absenteeism data with pediatricians: Dr. Danielle Dooley, a pediatrician and Medical Director of Community Affairs, and Tonya...


392 - Idaho’s COVID-19 Crisis Standards of Care: Low Vaccination, Full Hospitals, and Difficult Decisions Around Who Gets Ideal Care

A few months ago, the state of Idaho declared Crisis Standards of Care when COVID cases peaked and hospitals were full. Dr. David Pate, a member of the governor’s Coronavirus Working Group, talks with Stephanie Desmon about the difficult decisions health care workers have to make during Crisis Standards of Care, how this is and isn’t the same as rationing care, why vaccination status shouldn’t come into play for those decisions, and what has contributed to Idaho being the state with the...


BONUS - The FDA Grants Emergency Use Authorization for COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids Ages 5-11—What’s Next?

After months of scrutinizing data from clinical trials, the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children 5-11. Many parents and guardians are eager for their child to be first in line but what do those who might feel hesitant need to know? Dr. Gigi Gronvall, parent and immunologist at the Center for Health Security, returns to the podcast to talk with Stephanie Desmon about the importance of vaccinating kids, why it’s not worth it to wait for the “adult”...


391 - Underappreciated: The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Mental Health Effects On Non-Clinical Health Care Workers

Fear of COVID exposure and overflowing hospital units are two of the known stressors contributing to burnout among nurses and doctors. But there are a slew of other factors exacerbating health care workers’ distress—many of which don’t just affect clinical staff. Researchers Dr. Johannes Thrul and Dr. Svea Closser talk with Stephanie Desmon about a recent report from the Center For Health Security looking at the pandemic burnout and anxiety on people often left out of the “Health Care...