Season Two

Podcast: Science With a Twist

Podcast: Season 2

Science With a Twist is a podcast for curious people who enjoy exploring how science impacts our daily lives. From technology that helps the fight against COVID-19 to solutions that help clean the water we drink – it’s all thanks to science. In each episode, members of Thermo Fisher Scientific’s team talk to experts who are on the cutting-edge of redefining how we exist. Ultimately, Science With a Twist helps lifelong learners understand the everyday applications of science that are helping to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer.



In this episode of Science with a Twist, Dr. Peter Marks, Director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) at the FDA, joins host Dr. Timothy Miller to dive into the complexities and promise of gene therapy. They discuss the potential of gene therapy to revolutionize medicine, narrowing in on the scientific progress made and recent advancements in treating patients and families with Rare Diseases. Dr. Marks shares insights on the FDA's role in ensuring safety and efficacy, emphasizing the importance of collaboration between regulatory bodies, researchers, and developers. Efforts related to the profound work of the public/private partnerships funding the Accelerating Medicines Partnerships Bespoke Gene Therapy Consortium are also highlighted.


The conversation also explores the many challenges of bringing the promise of gene therapies to patients, including, cost, accessibility, and ethical considerations. Dr. Marks outlines the FDA's efforts to streamline the approval process while maintaining rigorous standards, highlighting the careful balance between innovation and patient safety.


Finally, the episode touches on the future of gene and genetic therapies, with Dr. Marks expressing optimism about their ability to treat previously incurable diseases as well as common, everyday conditions. He stresses the importance of public education and engagement to navigate the complexities of these new treatments and highlights the need for industry partners like Thermo Fisher in empowering the science through applying novel creativity and innovation. The episode provides a comprehensive overview of gene therapy's current state and its promising future.




In this episode of Science with a Twist, host Rosy Lee welcomes Joshua J. Coon, a distinguished professor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and head of Coon Laboratories. They dive into the fascinating world of mass spectrometry and its revolutionary impact on biomedical research. Coon shares his journey from rural Michigan to a leading figure in mass spectrometry, highlighting his passion for both science and instrument building.


The conversation shifts to Joshua's groundbreaking work in his lab. He explains how mass spectrometry enables the detailed study of biological systems, from cellular components to complex tissues. Coon's team uses this technology to identify and quantify thousands of molecules, offering deep insights into genetic and lifestyle impacts on molecular behavior in organisms.


A significant part of the discussion focuses on how Joshua's research contributes to understanding diseases. By linking specific proteins to metabolic disorders and diseases like Alzheimer's, his work paves the way for potential new treatments and diagnostics. This episode not only sheds light on the technical aspects of mass spectrometry but also underscores its vital role in advancing human health.




In this episode of Science with a Twist, host Dr. Obiageli Okafor dives into the pressing issue of global health equity in HIV treatment, emphasizing the pivotal role of HIV drug resistance testing. She highlights Brazil's commendable efforts, which include providing free antiretroviral drugs and CD4 viral load testing. This proactive approach has led to a significant reduction in HIV cases in the country.


Guest Dr. Ricardo Diaz, a renowned infectious disease expert from Brazil, shares his insights on the challenges and successes of Brazil's HIV treatment journey. He underscores the emergence of HIV drug resistance and the urgent need for genotype testing to tailor treatments effectively.


The discussion further reveals the alarming scale of drug resistance. Despite the strides made, there remains a gap between the number of resistance tests conducted and the actual need, emphasizing the continuous battle against HIV.




Semiconductors are silicon chips that conduct electricity in concrete and sophisticated ways, allowing them to be the brains of most devices that drive our modern lives. But despite the projections saying the semiconductor industry will hit the trillion-dollar mark by 2030, it's still facing many challenges.


For instance, supply shortages have led to bottlenecks in the production of everything from cars to home appliances. The deficit shows how critical these tiny silicon chips are to the smooth functioning of the global economy.


In this episode of Science with a Twist, our host Keith Cornell is joined by two subject matter experts from the semiconductor industry, Geoff Downing and Mark Mattison, to discuss the importance of semiconductors, the challenges the industry has been facing, and what the future holds for this technology.




In this episode of Science with a Twist, host Meron Mathias engages in a riveting discussion with Maya Ajmera from the Society for Science and Eleanor Sigrest, a previous winner of Society’s middle school STEM competition. The conversation revolves around the critical need for diversity in STEM fields and the role of competitions like the Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge in increasing equitable access to high-quality STEM learning experiences.


The dialogue delves into the importance of early exposure to STEM learning experiences, particularly during the formative middle school years. Maya and Eleanor  emphasize the value of hands-on learning and project-based organizations in cultivating STEM passions. They also highlight the role of afterschool programs and extracurricular activities in nurturing these interests.


The episode concludes with a discussion on the importance of mentorship and the value of expressing gratitude to those who guide us. The conversation is a testament to the transformative power of STEM education and the imperative to nurture a STEM workforce that reflects the diversity of the world around us.




In this Science with a Twist episode, host Jami Elliott engages in a thought-provoking conversation with Jeff Shaman, Chief Scientific Officer at Coriell Life Sciences. They delve into the fascinating world of precision medicine and pharmacogenomics, exploring how these fields are revolutionizing healthcare by tailoring treatments to individual patient characteristics.


Jeff illustrates the concept of pharmacogenomics, explaining how it combines pharmacology and genomics to understand how a person's genetic makeup affects their response to medications. This knowledge allows healthcare providers to prescribe the proper medication and dosage, reducing trial and error, improving treatment effectiveness, and minimizing potentially negative side effects. Jeff provides real-world examples, discussing the impact of pharmacogenomics on medications like Clopidogrel and statins.


The conversation concludes with a look toward the future, discussing the potential of wearable and implantable devices in healthcare. Jeff emphasizes the importance of giving healthcare professionals more tools to react in real-time and make informed decisions about patient care. He encourages listeners to explore pharmacogenomics and consider its benefits in their healthcare journey.




Water is the source of life. Still, we live in a world where some people have limited access to drinking water, and let’s not forget the horror stories about oil or chemical spills that raise additional concerns regarding the state of our water systems.


This episode of Science With a Twist is dedicated to the importance of testing water for PFAS. Our guest is Dr. Lee Ferguson, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Duke University. Dr. Ferguson and host John Lesica discuss the impact of PFAS on our water supplies, what it means for us as consumers, and how testing can benefit communities now and in the future.




We are keenly aware of the pressing need to care for our environment and the incredible potential of innovation to drive positive change. Green chemistry plays a pivotal role in sustainability by promoting environmentally benign and socially responsible chemical processes and products. It's all about reducing pollution and conserving precious resources in ways that benefit both the planet and our communities.


In this episode of the Science With a Twist podcast, our host Vinod Mirchandani welcomes John Warner, the co-founder, president, and CTO of the Warner-Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, and co-founder of the non-profit, Beyond Benign. They talk about the role of green chemistry in sustainability, the importance of education, and why we need the right tools to build a world where the chemical building blocks of products used every day are healthier and safer for humans and the environment.




Cell therapy is a promising field that uses living cells to treat disease. And it's a powerful way to improve the immune system's ability to fight cancer. But cell therapies have other potential medical applications, such as treating autoimmune diseases, cardiac or pulmonary fibrosis, and infectious diseases.


In this episode of Science With a Twist, our host Rupa Pike welcomes Wendell Lim, Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco. They discuss cell therapies, why they are so powerful and promising, and the biggest challenges in the field.





We live in an increasingly diverse world, and in order to deliver the best quality healthcare, we need to embrace and improve patient diversity in clinical trials. But how do we improve clinical research and expand treatment access to a more diverse patient population?


In the second and final episode of our Clinical Research Series on the Science With a Twist podcast, our host Lloryn Hubbard welcomes Nik Kolatkar, VP of Scientific Operations & Evidence Generation at Genentech. They discuss the impact of inclusive research on drug development and decentralized and virtual study approaches that can reduce barriers and improve clinical trial participation for disenfranchised groups.





Clinical trials are essential for the discovery of new treatments and support the development of new life-saving drugs and medical devices that can benefit millions worldwide. But one of the greatest challenges in clinical research is the lack of representation.


We kick off our two-episode Clinical Research Series on the Science With a Twist podcast, as our host John Manns welcomes guests Tim Rich and Thad Wolfram. Tim is the VP of Digital and Decentralized Services for the PPD clinical research business of Thermo Fisher Scientific. Thad is the president of EmVenio Research. They talk about the benefits of decentralized trials, the importance of improving representation in clinical research, and different ways to make trials more patient-centric.



Biomarker testing for targeted therapies is a game changer for lung cancer, and it ensures that patients get the proper treatment at the right time. But how do we make it accessible to all patients, regardless of race or ethnicity?


In this episode of the Science With a Twist podcast, our host Jeff Smith welcomes Dr. Upal Basu Roy, the executive director of Research at LUNGevity. They talk about the importance of diversity in the oncology workforce, why it's essential to be more inclusive, and the critical role of biomarkers and targeted therapies for lung cancer patients.



In this Science With a Twist episode, our host Kathy Davy is joined by Dr. Jeffrey Scott, the chief medical officer and president of population health solutions at Integra Connect. Dr. Scott's team is on a mission to help specialty care organizations – from providers and health systems to payers and life sciences companies become clinically and financially successful with value-based precision medicine.


As part of this mission, Integra Connect and Thermo Fisher recently collaborated on research presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting, the world's leading oncology conference. This episode is dedicated to sharing the details of this research and the impact new approaches to genomic testing can have on cancer patient outcomes.



Cryo-electron microscopy, or cryo-EM, is a powerful structural analysis method. It's being used to help researchers better understand cancer and see how biomolecules move and interact in the body.

But Penn State's cryo-EM technique is one of a kind. In this episode of the Science With a Twist podcast, our host Kathy Davy welcomes Deb Kelly, the director of the Center for Structural Oncology at Penn State University. They talk about Professor Kelly's approach to cancer research, how it's helping researchers better understand breast cancer, and the immense value of cryo-EM in outsmarting cancer.



Genomics, or the field of microbiology devoted to studying genomes, has the potential to help us diagnose and more precisely target disease; but we can also use genomics to understand the biological link between the environment, humans, and animals.

In this episode of the Science With a Twist podcast, our host Candia Brown welcomes Luther King Abia Akebe, Associate Professor of Applied & Environmental Microbiology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. They talk about the concept of One Health and how human, environmental, and animal health intersect.



Many of us have created time capsules — boxes filled with objects from when we were growing up — and buried them in the backyard for future generations to discover. However, a group of experts from various fields have taken this to the next level and created a time capsule that will be sent to the moon.


In this episode of Science With a Twist, our host Sung-Dae Hong welcomes Dylan Vitone, Mark Baskinger, and Matt Zywica. Mark, Dylan, and Matt are associate professors at Carnegie Mellon University, School of Design, and the creators of one of the ultimate time capsules — the mysterious and innovative MoonArk.


Mark, Dylan, and Matt share the story behind the project and the people involved, give details about the object's design, and explain how it’s being tested on its preparedness for space expedition.



Most people think that forensic science is just used to solve crimes. But, forensics can offer so much more. When partnered with other sciences, forensics can help us get answers to historical questions. Therefore, forensics can bring history closer to the non-scientific community and help the public understand its impact on humankind.


In this episode of Science With a Twist, Dr. Marta Diepenbroek joins host Sheri Olson to discuss DNA analysis and its impact on identifying the victims of war and totalitarian regimes. Dr. Diepenbroek is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Institute of Legal Medicine, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany. So far, she has worked on several projects, including the Sobibor Project, which led to the identification of Jewish Holocaust victims.


Dr. Diepenbroek shares the findings from working on this project and explains the significance of the joint work of forensics and other sciences, such as archaeology and history, on this and similar projects.



COVID-19 has gone through a gamut of changes over the last two years. And it has been brewing in different populations much faster than other recent viruses.

Further, even though viruses undergo mutation constantly, most other viruses have not managed to trigger a pandemic the way COVID did.

In this episode of the Science With a Twist podcast, our host and Chief Scientific Officer at Thermo Fisher Scientific, Karen Nelson, welcomes Kamini Varma and Andy Felton. Kamini is the Vice President of Research and Development, and Andy is the Vice President of Platforms, Research, and Applied at Thermo Fisher Scientific.

In this episode, they discuss the uniqueness of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the difference between variants of concern and variants of interest, and their prediction for the future of COVID-19.



In 2020, we had hoped that 2021 would signify the end of the coronavirus. But, here we are, in 2022, and the pandemic is still going on.

Fortunately, things do seem to be getting back to normal, but we still have a long way to go before we can say that coronavirus is over. Therefore, new technology to help fight the virus is becoming increasingly important. 

In this episode of Science With a Twist, Miguel Faustino and Michelle Jensen join our host, Ron O'Brien to discuss the AerosolSense Sampler, a solution designed to detect the presence of coronavirus in the air.

Miguel is the President of the Chemical Analysis Business at Thermo Fisher Scientific, which developed the AerosolSense sampler. Michelle is the District Administrator for Deerfield Community School District, and the schools she manages are part of a pilot project using the device. 

Miguel shares what the device is and explains how it works, while Michelle discusses the implementation of AerosolSense in schools and its results.