Matt writes:

Greetings TWiVi and TWiVae,

As an MD student and long-time listener, I’d love to be lucky recipient of Infections of Leisure. It sounds like a great supplement to my clinical training.

Matt Pellnitz

MD candidate c/o 2017

University of Miami Miller SOM

Bridget writes:

Hello Vincent and the TWiV crew,

Thanks for picking two articles about the value of publicly-funded science and the hard work climate scientists are doing to preserve their data. Sadly, in the last week, things have started to look even rougher for some government scientists and science funding. Some people in our field have looked at the successful Women’s Marches that happened on January 21st and they’re planning something similar for supporters of science. You can find the basic event outline here, though most of the real planning activity is taking place on social media (links to facebook, reddit etc. on that page).

I hope you encourage more listeners to keep standing up for science! While the main march will happen in Washington D.C., there will likely be “sister” marches throughout the US, so listeners throughout the country should keep an eye out and an ear open.

Thanks – I hope everyone’s Spring 2017 semester is off to a good start.



Stefan writes:

Dear Vincent, Dickson, Kathy, Alan, and Rich,

My name is Stefan and I’m a junior doctor from Edinburgh, Scotland. I’m a long-time loyal listener to the TWIX podcasts – I first tuned in to TWIV back in 2010 when I was an undergraduate studying infection and immunology at the University of Oxford, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

The chance to win a copy of Infections of Leisure is the carrot that finally prompted me to write in – I hope I’m lucky number seventeen.

I do have a listener pick to share, which may be more suited to TWiEVO than TWIV, but I feel the need to offer something with my first email:

I just finished ‘The Vital Question’ by Nick Lane (a biochemist at University College London) which is a really interesting discussion about the origins of life, in particular the circumstances which may have given rise to the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) and the last eukaryotic common ancestor (LECA). I found the book fascinating, and I’m sure the TWIX listeners would like it too.

Thanks for the podcasts, and please keep the weather updates (it’s nice to be reminded that although Scotland may be cold, it rarely reaches the sub-zero temperatures of South East Michigan!)


P.S. I’m enjoying my pdf copy of Parasitic Diseases 6th Edition, so thanks also to Dickson and Daniel for making it free to download

Becky writes:

Hi chaps!

Hope I’m not too late for the book contest!  Even if I am, I just wanted to say thank you to you all for the great work on TWIV.  I’m a biomedical scientist by trade, starting in a hospital diagnostic virology lab, and thanks to everything I learned from your podcasts I got the confidence to go for my virology MSc.  I’m now doing a part-time PhD alongside a full time job at Public Health England, working on Hepatitis E Virus (which you should really do an episode on! 😉  I also volunteer for the London Virology Discussion Group, and recommend your podcasts and lectures to all that attend our evening talks (by the way if you’re ever in London Vincent we’d love to host you for an evening!).

I’ve gotten so much from your kind efforts and I’d love to give something back.  I heard on the last episode (424) that you are wanting to transcribe your podcasts to make them searchable.  I’m happy to transcribe some episodes for you by way of thanks for all the great work that you make freely available.  If you let me know which ones you have transcripts for I’ll get to work!

Many thanks,


P.S. I almost forgot the weather!  A cloudless sunny day here in Colindale, London; temperature 2C.

Paul writes:

Hello TWiV’ers,

Hopefully I am the 17th email.  I’m always looking for a new book to read.

The weather in Chapel Hill, NC is currently a pleasantly sunny 59F (15C).

A little background on myself.  I am currently an Epidemiology PhD student at the University of North Carolina, hoping to specialized in infectious disease epidemiology.  I have always been excited about Virology.  I have been listening to the podcast since episode 402, after a fellow student (and former student of Vincent) told me about the podcast.

As for a listener pick, I would like to mention the book “The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy” by Seth Mnookin.  I’ve recently read it and I thought it was especially relevant in light of episode 423’s discussion regarding speaking with lay audiences regarding vaccinations, and RFK Jr’s meeting with the president-elect.



PhD Epidemiology Student

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Jamie writes:

Hello All!

Ever since I heard you mention the infections of leisure book, I have been hooked on getting it somehow, and hope I might be the lucky 17th and win it! It sounds like a great read that would help keep my micro knowledge relative as I take a hiatus from my career as a clinical microbiologist to be a stay at home mom. Even if I don’t win it, I am especially thankful to you guys, and gal, for bringing science into my daily life and keeping me in the know!

Today it is a cool damp 47 degrees F here in Vernon, NJ.

Johnye writes:

From my home town. Who knows?

Wouldn’t a virus look beautiful as a mirror ball?



Suggests viral structures to me and hints at the 4th dimension. Johnye

Megan writes:

Hello TWIV crew!

I’m am writing from Redlands, CA where it is currently 15°C (59°F) and partly cloudy.

The link below is from the BMBL (5th Edition) and describes containment recommendations for working with prions in the laboratory. It confirms what you said in the podcast.

Excerpt from text (page 284):

Laboratory Safety and Containment Recommendations

In the laboratory setting prions from human tissue and human prions propagated in animals should be manipulated at BSL-2. BSE prions can likewise be manipulated at BSL-2. Due to the high probability that BSE prions have been transmitted to humans, certain circumstances may require the use of BSL-3 facilities and practices. All other animal prions are manipulated at BSL-2. However, when a prion from one species is inoculated into another the resultant infected animal should be treated according to the guidelines applying to the source of the inoculum. Contact APHIS National Center for Import and Export at (301) 734-5960 for specific guidance.

Thank you for all the work you put into the weekly podcast. I am a virologist by training and studied three immune evasion proteins found in guinea pig CMV for my dissertation. I have been listening to TWIV since Episode #1 during a short postdoc. My career changed paths after that and I am now a Laboratory Director in a county Public Health Lab. I love listening each week to get a peek into what’s going on in the research world.


Megan Crumpler PhD, HCLD(ABB)

Laboratory Director

Public Health Laboratory

Riverside University Health System – Public Health

Riverside, CA


Nathan writes:

Dear TWIV esteemed hosts,

I hope I’m letter number #17!

Thanks so much for the opportunity to participate in TWiV #421.  The TWiV studio should be a stop for science tourism in New York City. It was great to have the TWiV experience in real time and in vivo with Vincent & Dickson.

Attached is a fascinating paper from Nature about communication between phage. Erez et al. 2017 Nature AOP 2017-01-18 “Communication between viruses guides lysis–lysogeny decisions.” Query: Does it reopen the question of are viruses alive?

Here is a link.  I suggest for either a snippet or a full discussion.

Following another recent story arc…Here are a few of my favorite science podcasts: From the TWix family TWiM &  TWiEVO; CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases; Nina Martin’s Public Health United; Cell Podcast; The eLife Podcast; The Nature Podcast; Genentech’s Two Scientists Walk Into a Bar; and Gimlet’s Science Vs.  

The weather in Chapel Hill, NC is 36 oF (6 oC) and sunny.

Keep on podcasting.



Justin writes:

Hello sages of TWiV!

I’ve been listening for over a year now and greatly enjoy listening to the TWiX podcasts on my commute, as well as when performing the menial parts of benchwork.  The TWiX podcasts help keep me well informed and always give me good papers to discuss with my labmates, as well as give me ideas of what I may want to pursue after my Ph.D.

My fiancé is an ecologist and has recently finished a book called “Foundations of Ecology – Classic Papers with Commentaries” (see link:  The book contains 40 classic papers in ecology that set the stage for modern ecology, with commentaries.  As a micro/molecular biology Ph.D. student,  I have been incredibly jealous of this book and have been unable to find something similar for my field.  I figured if it existed, the TWiV crew would know about it.  So how about it?  Is there a compilation of classic papers in Virology/Microbiology/Molecular Biology?  Any of the above would be amazing and would certainly deserve my money!

The weather here in upstate New York has been another unseasonably mild winter so far.  This morning it’s an overcast 39F with a high of 48F (4 and 9C respectively).

Best, and many thanks for the hours of entertainment,


Ph.D. Student

University at Albany, SUNY

Michael writes:

I have been running behind the past couple of weeks and thought surely it would have been over by now but as soon as I started this week’s episode I had to pause and write this.

Even if I don’t win I most sincerely thank you and the whole crew as always, and if I do win I thank you that much more.

Chris writes:

Hello Vincent and the TWIV gang,

I was introduced to your podcast last year while finishing my undergrad degree at Indiana University Southeast.  The professor who taught my microbiology courses referenced the microbe world site, and your podcast several times and I’ve been hooked ever since.  I am currently working through the application process for acceptance into a Physician Assistant Program and listening each week has been a great way to keep my mind focused on many different topics and research in the field of virology.

I haven’t been able to listen regularly for a few months as our first child was born right after Thanksgiving when I quickly learned infants aren’t fans of their parents’ podcast time.  I did however catch this week’s episode and heard you mention you were giving away a copy of infections of leisure which I would certainly enjoy reading.  I’m not sure what the requirements are to enter beyond sending the 17th email, but if that is the criteria I thought I’d give it a try.

Keep up the good work on TWIV, and I’ll keep trying to adapt to tracking the Ohio Valley weather in degrees Celsius (which is no small task given how often things change here).



Levi writes: 


Your podcast is pleasurably infectious. Stumbled upon it like i do with most of my own virions accidentally while performing my own personal research on the microbes that affect us. I also watch Vincentos You tube virology class. In 2015 my immunity was suppressed by the  love of a beautiful person lowering my defenses to the infiltration HSV 1(Acyclovir) & HPV. In a lecture  you mentioned… “Virions are obligate molecular parasites,every solution must reveal something about the host as well as the virus” much has been revealed to me.

About Me (You don’t have to read this)

Kenyan student in America, Oklahoma  adventuring and experiencing this nation.  Hope someday our African continent invests as much in science research and education to enable us to cope with nature’s challenges.

Hey Alan I’m a flight student too and do it when I can but you know the Oklahoma wind is seldom patient.

Despomieri one day I hope to fill the whole Sub-Saharan landscape with Urban Gardens gone are the days of African starvation thanks to you.

Kathy lovely voice you make me want to enroll in immunology and join your field, I like that you call the researchers and find about their lives and paths to science.

Rich sounds like a great guy to hang out with planning a trip to Florida end of month if it works out a run in would be in order.


Levi Mwirigi

Levi (read as le vie as in French the life ) Mwirigi (good luck with this one)

Scot writes:

Dear Twiv,

I wrote to you a few months ago to thank Vincent for the virology 101 series, which I used to help bring me up to speed on basic virology while driving from Queensland to Tasmania to take up a new position as a post doctoral researcher working on novel viruses of economic importance to the Australian salmon aquaculture industry.

I’m writing again today because I heard in TWIV 425 that you still haven’t received 17 emails since you announced that you had another book to give away. I do love free stuff, so consider this my entry into the competition, but I also had a virology question that ironically has sprung to mind while I’ve been listening to the TWIP podcasts rather than while I’ve been listening to TWIV.

I find the complex life cycles of many of the eukaryotic parasites fascinating. I think that the pseudophyllidean tapeworms and the trematodes in particular are amazing and both beautifully illustrate the interconnectedness of different organisms in ecological systems and the incredible power of evolution to find solutions to the problems involved in exploiting even the most apparently obscure niche. It boggles my mind to try to imagine how these parasites have evolved to be completely dependent on not just one, but sometimes two or three disparate host species for completion of their life cycles. While marvelling at the incredible complexity of the life cycles of these worms with all their different stages, I started to wonder if there are any examples of viruses that have a requirement to infect more than one host species or cell type in order to complete their replication cycle. Of course there are vector-borne viruses which need to infect an arthropod host in order to spread, but these viruses are still able to replicate in just one type of host cell. Are there any examples of viruses that replicate in a ‘definitive’ host or cell type, but only if the virions have been somehow processed or modified in another ‘intermediate’ host or cell type first? The closest example that I could think of is the way HIV hitches a ride on dendritic cells in order to more effectively infect its ‘definitive’ T-cell host, but my understanding is that attachment to a dendritic cell isn’t actually required for T-cell infection and subsequent viral replication. I could imagine a scenario where virions produced in cell type A need to be modified by proteases in cell type B before they can re-infect another cell of type A, or perhaps where cell types A and B need to be infected simultaneously in order to produce different components of the infectious viral particle. I can also imagine that if viruses with complex replication cycles like this did exist, they would be extremely recalcitrant to culture in the lab and hence would evade discovery in the first place. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts.



P.S. It’s now the middle of summer in Tasmania, and the temperature here is a warm 27.5 C, wind from the north west at 12 km/h, relative humidity 43% with a dew point of 14.1 C.

Scott Godwin | Research Microbiologist

Fish Health Unit | Dept  Primary Industries Parks Water & Environment

Tasmania 7249 | Australia

Kevin writes:

Dear Twiv profs,

I figure y’all might find this piece interesting. Thoughts on scientists being in the public sphere? (I would normally say no, but the times, they are a changin’.)

All the best,

Kevin Vo

Dennis writes:

Hi Docs,

At there’s an expandable fractal chart of the tree of life.  On an ipad for example one can explore by panning and zooming.  It takes a bit to get used to it but the amount of info is tremendous.  Who would have thought that fractals would become commonly used for big data display and visual search.

Maybe this could be posted as a pick.

Best to you,


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