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TXBiobytes from Texas Biomed

Science Podcasts

The latest news on biomedical research and discoveries from Texas Biomedical Research Institute


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The latest news on biomedical research and discoveries from Texas Biomedical Research Institute




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TX Biobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 052— Understanding Variants

The United States reached another solemn milestone this week. 500 thousand people have lost their lives to COVID-19. This pandemic has drastically changed our world in ways no one could have imagined. And, every day it seems we are learning something new about the virus SARS-CoV-2. A critical component to all viruses is that they mutate. And, when they mutate they form a variant. When a virus constantly mutates, creating multiple variants, that can be a problem. There are now several mutations of SARS-CoV-2 circulating globally. In this podcast, we sit down with one of Texas Biomed's leading virologists, Dr. Jean Patterson, to get a basic understanding of a variant. We discuss how variants are formed, the difference between a variant and a new strain and what needs to be done to stay ahead of these evolutionary changes of a virus.


TX Biobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 051 — Second Annual Research Symposium 2020

Post Doctorate Fellow Marco Ferrari (L) presents his research poster during the Second Annual Research Symposium in February. Texas Biomed held its second annual research symposium in February. Known as Research Day, the symposium is an opportunity for scientists from around the Texas Biomed campus to present their research and give updates to faculty and staff. Topics ranging from HIV and Ebola to tuberculosis and pertussis and more were presented. In this episode of Biobytes, two scientists, Marco Ferrari and Kizil Yusoof, talk about their research and how it can improve lives. Motivational Speaker Shiloh Harris opened Research Day with his story about survival. Research Day was initiated to promote collaborative science among Texas Biomed researchers and other scientists.


TX Biobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 050 — New Coronavirus: Q&A

New Coronavirus - Credit: NIH NIAID As of today, February 26, 2020, the new coronavirus has infected more than 80,000 people worldwide, causing more than 2,200 deaths, and continues to be spreading. The CDC has warned that the virus is likely to spread in the United States. Scientists worldwide are frantically searching for therapies and vaccines to combat this threat and there appears to be some progress; however, any vaccine or therapeutic candidate will still have to undergo rigorous testing, including testing in animal models, which Texas Biomed is developing. Texas BioBytes sat down with three leading researchers to discuss the virus, scientific progress and what individuals can do to protect themselves. We spoke on February 17 with Dr. Larry Schlesinger, Professor, President and CEO of Texas Biomed; Dr. Jean Patterson, Professor, and this week's podcast also introduces Texas Biomed's newest faculty member and leading virologist on vaccine development Dr. Luis Martinez Sobrido, Professor. All facts and figures are from the time of the interview. Please join us for this roundtable discussion of one of the world's most current threats.


TX Biobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 049 — Texas Biomed: 2020 and Beyond

Texas Biomed President/CEO Larry Schlesinger, M.D. Texas Biomed launched a 10-year strategic plan in 2018 that aims to bring hundreds of jobs to San Antonio and double basic biomedical research funding at the Institute in order to ensure we fulfill our mission to protect you, your loved ones and our global community from the threat of infectious diseases. Recent headlines in the New York Times report "First Wuhan Coronavirus Patient Identified in the United States" and "W.H.O. Warns That...


TX Biobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 048— Texas Biomed: The Next Generation

Texas Biomed trainees team up to produce a podcast about their experiences. Biomedical research trainees are an important part of the team of scientists at Texas Biomed. The next generation of innovative thinkers will grow out of those people working in labs all over the country while earning their higher degrees and conducting their post-doctoral work. In this podcast, you will hear from: Colwyn Headley, Ph.D. Candidate in Biomedical Science (Immunology) from Ohio State University. Kizil Yusoof, Masters student in Immunology and Infection at UT Health San Antonio Maritza Quintero, Ph.D. Candidate in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at UT Health San Antonio Amanda Rae Mannino, MLS (ASCP), Ph.D. Candidate in the Cell Biology, Genetics and Molecular Medicine Discipline


TX Biobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 047 — Teaming Up to Tackle AIDS

Texas Biomed Professor Luis Giavedoni, Ph.D., served as co-chair for the Symposium The Southwest National Primate Research Center hosted to 37th Annual Symposium on Nonhuman Primate models for AIDS at the Omni La Mansion del Rio Hotel in the fall of 2019. The goal of the symposium is to create the ability to share and exchange new research findings, ideas, and direction by an international group of scientists. Many of these researchers focus on the study of natural or experimental immunodeficiency virus infections, such as HIV or SIV, which is the monkey version of the virus. Sponsorships are important in the world of research. Many companies come to these symposiums to discover ways in which they are able to help advance the work being done in the field. Collaboration is extremely important within the scientific community. People come from all over the world to symposiums like this one to share and discover new ways to help out other scientists hoping to find the next breakthrough in HIV research using nonhuman primates. A lot of great work has transpired through the 37 years that the NHP/AIDS symposium has taken place, as scientists gather together to exchange their discoveries we inch closer to understanding the developments that could lead to new methods for the treatment, control and prevention of AIDS in human.


TX Biobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 046 — Much Ado About Aging

Associate Professor Corrina Ross, Ph.D. One of the biggest risk factors for disease and death is – of course – aging. What if there were common medications for sick people that could be given to otherwise healthy people to help them stay healthier longer? That’s the idea behind a new study looking at the effects of two diabetes drugs on the aging? Marmoset Photo Courtesy Kathy West Studios Texas Biomedical Research Institute Associate Professor Corinna Ross, Ph.D., is using marmosets to study the impact of Metformin and Acarbose. The study was published in the journal Pathobiology of Aging and Age-Related Diseases. Local grant money from the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center helped fund this important pilot project. Dr. Ross says community financial support for biomedical research is crucial.


TX Biobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 045 — Science: A Family Affair

Once a year, Texas Biomed opens up the campus for family and friends to see what employees do every day to combat the threat of infectious diseases. We call it Family Night, a rare opportunity for spouses, children, aunts, uncles and grandmas to get a taste of the life-saving research conducted by our employees every day. Texas Biomed employees who man the various booths scattered around the campus say they look forward to this event. It gives them a chance to share what they’ve been working on. More than 450 people streamed on to the Texas Biomed campus. 338 of them took a bus tour of the primate center, and 173 guests visited each and every educational booth.


TX Biobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 044 — Vet Techs: Nurses for Animals

Vet Tech Supervisor Laurie Condel at an ultrasound machine Veterinary Research Technicians are some of the most important people on our campus. They are sometimes referred to as "nurses for animals." 38 vet techs and 3 vet tech supervisors work at the Southwest National Primate Research Center on the Texas Biomed campus. What they do each and every day is vital to our scientific mission: to eradicate the threat of infectious diseases and advance knowledge that impacts human health around the glove. Meet some of the people who deliver great care to our hundreds of nonhuman primates and rodents.


TX Biobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 043 — Taking on Tuberculosis

Staff Scientist Eusondiia Arnett, Ph.D., and Professor Larry Schlesinger, M.D. New discoveries in laboratories at Texas Biomed could lead to a new set of drugs that will ultimately cure tuberculosis (TB). That's the opinion of Texas Biomed President/CEO and Professor Larry Schlesinger, M.D., who is also a TB researcher. He is Principal Investigator of a new grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This four-year, $2.8 million project was awarded for scientists to study the role of lung macrophages -- which are immune cells -- in metabolic and inflammation responses to an infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Combining antibiotics with some kind of an immune booster could lead to better outcomes. Dr. Schlesinger believes "this newest research has the most clear-cut translation potential in terms of leading to a new strategy for host-directed therapy for TB.


TX Biobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 042 — Considering Cannabinoids

Professor Mahesh Mohan, Ph.D. and Professor Deepak Kaushal, Ph.D., Director of the SNPRC The newest professor at our biomedical research institute is Dr. Mahesh Mohan. His research is focused on HIV…the virus that causes AIDS. However, he’s been branching out into a new area recently: the effect of cannabinoids on the inflammation caused by this disease…and potentially other illnesses as well. Dr. Mohan will also be a member of the Southwest National Primate Research Center on the Texas Biomed campus. He came from the Tulane National Primate Research Center in Louisiana where he worked with rhesus macaques. These animals are a good model for his research, as they can be infected with the monkey version of HIV. Could components of the marijuana plant help patients with the many and varied symptoms created by an HIV infection? That’s one project Dr. Mohan has taken on. He would also like to find out if creating a synthetic compound could help create a new medication.


TX Biobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 041 — Quantitative Biology adds up to New Insights

Assistant Professor Diako Ebrahimi, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Diako Ebrahimi, Ph.D., is one of the newest faculty members at Texas Biomedical Research Institute. He’s a quantitative biologist. His job is to take massive amounts of data from different disciplines to develop new ways to research virology and cancer. Dr. Ebrahimi joins Texas Biomed from the University of Minnesota where he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics. He is currently the principal investigator on a National Institutes of Health grant focused on Molecular Determinants of HIV Hypermutation that runs through 2020 and another study that concludes this year. For nearly 10 years, Dr. Ebrahimi has focused his research efforts on combining data and information from a variety of scientific disciplines, from chemistry and virology to cancer, genomics, evolution and bioinformatics to develop new research initiatives in viral and cancer genomics using quantitative biology. Big data is changing the way biomedical research is conducted. Dr. Ebrahimi received his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Chamran University in Ahvaz, Iran and his Master of Science in Analytical Chemistry from Razi University in Kermanshah, Iran. He obtained his Ph.D. in Quantitative Chemistry in 2007 from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.


TX Byobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 040 — In Favor of Vaccinations

Professor Joanne Turner, Ph.D.VP for Research As students gear up to head back to classes, public health officials and school districts encourage parents to make sure their children are up-to-date on their immunizations. A new trend called “vaccine hesitancy” has created unwarranted fear of these life-saving preventive measures. Texas Biomed scientists are working hard to create better and new vaccines….and to educate people about why following a vaccine schedule is so important to protect you, and everyone else around you, from infectious diseases. Professor Jean Patterson, Ph.D. Professor Joanne Turner, Ph.D., is Texas Biomed's Vice President for Research. She also serves as the Executive Director of the Vaccine Development Center of San Antonio. Professor Jean Patterson, Ph.D., is a virologist.


TX Biobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 039 — Discovery + Learning = Success

Texas Biomed strives to create an educationally rich learning environment. As part of that initiative, 21 college and university students have spent summer 2019 interning on the campus. They are science and support staff workers. They have spent several weeks in labs and office all around the Institute. Our bright, talented students include: Joshua Castro -- St. Mary's University Payan (Max) Pour -- Southwestern University Catalina Lopez -- Barnard College Sarah Mohamed -- Texas A&M University Nicholas Stefek -- Texas Tech University Lois Randolph -- UTSA Stephanie Nordmeyer -- Texas State University Daniel Astorga -- UTSA Brinley Cannon -- Oklahoma State University Morgan Christian -- Texas A&M University Sara Cotton -- Vassar College Sanjana Mada -- UTSA Olivia Wise-Dent -- Cornell University Kyle James -- UTSA Shayna Scott -- Brigham Young University Chrystelle Lasica -- UPVD Lauren Carruthers -- Glasgow, Scotland Eitienne Daadi -- University of Oregon Jackie Ward -- Palo Alto College


TX Biobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 038 — Aging Answers: Combating Cognitive Decline

Associate Professor Marcel Daadi, Ph.D. One of the newest research projects at the Southwest National Primate Center on the campus of Texas Biomed is a study to figure out if a drug -- already approved by the Food and Drug Administration -- can help stave off unwanted cognitive problems that come with aging. Is there a way to repair damage to the cell organelles called mitochondria that become inefficient with age? Baboon at the SNPRCCourtesy Kathy West Studios To test this particular compound, Associate Scientist Marcel Daadi, Ph.D., will be spending the next year testing and treating senior baboons. The animals are able to take a cognitive test involving images on a screen to see if therapy with this medication can help the memory deficits and cognitive decline that monkeys (and men) experience. As more and more people live into their 80s and 90s and beyond, they become more likely to develop age-related problems. The William and Ella Owens Medical Research Foundation is funding the year-long study.


TX Biobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 037 — The Heart of the Problem: A Genetic Study of Native Americans

Thirty years ago, NIH-funded researchers began looking at particular risk factors for heart disease in the Native American population. What Texas Biomed scientists and collaborators across the country have found is impacting all of us. Now, Texas Biomed has received a 7-year, $3 million dollar grant to continue working on the Strong Heart Study of American Indians (SHS). Shelley Cole, Ph.D., Associate Professor and co-lead of the Population Health program at Texas Biomed, will direct the Strong Heart Study Genetics Center and Chair the Strong Heart Study Steering Committee. Associate Professor Shelly Cole, Ph.D. (left of sign), is part of a team of Strong Heart Study investigators from around the country. Participants in the study come from 12 different tribes in 3 different regions: Arizona, Oklahoma, and North and South Dakota. Data and samples collected over the past four decades are a treasure trove of information for researchers. All results from the study receive tribal approval before they are released. The Native Americans also benefit from being involved in the research. For Raymond Roy Almanza -- a member of the Comanche Tribe from Oklahoma -- being a part of the Strong Heart Study was more than just an opportunity to help scientists understand his ethnic group's health issues. It helped his health. Courtesy Strong Heart Study "Because of my participation in the study, I found out I had high levels of blood sugar. I found out I had diabetes. The people at the Strong Heart Study caught the situation before it became a serious threat to my health," Almanza said. “We really want to find culturally appropriate ways of improving American Indian health,” Cole stressed. “It’s not going to be the same approaches taken with the community at large in the U.S. As a human geneticist, I know that we really need to have information on all human population groups to make wise decisions about how to handle public health issues.”


TX Biobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 036 — Animal Behaviorists: Monitoring the Monkeys

Heath Nevill records behavior of baboons at the SNPRC. Texas Biomed is home to one of only seven National Primate Research Centers in the country. We house more than 2,000 nonhuman primates including baboons, rhesus macaques and marmosets. Besides veterinarians and technicians, the Southwest National Primate Research Center also employs animal behaviorists. Much of the animal behaviorists’ time is spent observing the animals, recording their behavior and gathering data. If observation alone isn’t enough, sometimes animal behaviorists use recordings. Director of Behavioral Services, Corrine Lutz, Ph.D., and nonhuman primate Lab manager of the Behavioral Services group, Heath Nevill, talk about taken care of research animals. Both say it's their passion. Corrine Lutz, Ph.D., and Heath Nevill work wit the Behavioral Services Department.


TX Biobytes from Texas Biomed Episode 035 — The Buzz About Zika

Zika VirusCourtesy: NIH Image Gallery What’s the latest buzz about Zika? The mosquito-borne virus is still infecting people around the globe -- even in the U.S. -- and putting unborn babies in particular at risk. Texas Biomed has just won a grant from the federal government to test two different ways of immunizing pregnant women. The idea is to prevent transmission of the infectious disease from expectant woman to her child. Zika has been around for decades, but the virus roared into the headlines when it caused a spate of terrible birth defects in Brazil four years ago. While Texas Biomed is providing the nonhuman primate animal models and the expertise in virology for this project, partners in New York are looking at other aspects of a possible Zika vaccine. Professor Jean Patterson, Ph.D., is the Principal Investigator on the project at Texas Biomed.


TXBioBytes from Texas Biomed Episode 034 — The impact of marmosets from A to Z: Aging to Zika

Marmosets are small New World monkeys from South America. © Clem Spalding 210-271-7273 Marmosets are a useful biomedical research animal model that is growing in popularity with researchers. The monkeys' small size and shorter life span make it an easier model to work with, in some cases, than larger nonhuman primates. Texas Biomed currently has more than 350 of these squirrel-sized monkeys. UT Health San Antonio and the Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies have just signed an animal care and joint research agreement with Texas Biomed. The new collaboration involved moving dozens of marmosets from the UT Health campus into a newly-renovated facility that is part of the Southwest National Primate Research Center on the Texas Biomed campus. The new home for marmosets can house up to 550 of the research animals, making it the largest marmoset colony in the U.S. dedicated to aging and infectious disease research. Corrina Ross, Ph.D. Associate Professor Corinna Ross, Ph.D., talks about the projects these animals are involved with and the challenges researchers face when trying to find answers to complex human health questions.


TXBioBytes from Texas Biomed Episode 033 — Celebrating Biomedical Research Awareness Day

Enrichment specialists at Texas Biomed celebrate BRAD by treating the research animals to Fiesta munchies. We owe many ways to treat and prevent disease to biomedical research, but none of our scientific discoveries would be possible without teamwork—that is, teamwork between scientists and research animals. BRAD celebrates the many contributions of research animals to human health. Biomedical Research Awareness Day (BRAD) was created by Americans for Medical Progress to educate students and the public on the importance of biomedical research and the humane use of research animals. Animals play a huge role in making biomedical research possible by serving as effective models for human ailments. Without the teamwork between scientists and animals, and the dedication of those who care for research animals, we would not be able to serve the world’s health needs. In observance of BRAD, Texas Biomed’s Veterinary Technicians Joseph Roberts and Martin Carias, Staff Scientist Olena Shtanko, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor Ian Cheeseman, Ph.D., explain why biomedical research is critical to keeping both humans and animals healthy.