Kimia writes:


Looking forward to the immunology podcast! 🙂 Just wanted to say that I would like to hear about immune responses in response to viral infections. It would be nice also if the podcast could focus more on human based research.



PhD Student

Center for Infectious Medicine

Karolinska Institutet

Gavin writes:

Dear Tycoons of the Immune,

I’m writing in for my chance to be the first ever emailer to the new podcast! I studied virology in grad school, but my PI kept sending me to immunology conferences and I took a shine to the subject. I had the opportunity to listen to so many rock stars at Immunology 2016! I’m confident that you’ll never run out of amazing guests.

Stephanie asked for recommendations on twitter, and I thought it would be cool if you could occasionally bring in a physician specializing in Allergy and Immunology. Dr. Griffin adds a lot of value to TWiP. I picked up a copy of Janeway’s Case Studies in Immunology, and it seems like there’s a great opportunity to borrow the case/guess format. Thanks again for all that you do!


Gavin Sowa

UCSF School of Medicine

Class of 2021

Trudy writes:

Dear Immune Trifecta,

I can’t even express how excited I am about this podcast!  I have waited for an immunology podcast for about seven years, ever since I started listening to TWiV, TWiM, and TWiP!  I can already tell that this will be the type of podcast where I will repeatedly rewind certain portions, just so that the information will stick.  I already learned so much just from the first show.

In response to your request for suggestions, could you please talk about the complement system?

Thank you so much!


P.S. Stephanie, I know exactly how you feel right now with your hopefully imminent graduation.  I was in exactly the same place about 10 years ago, and I remember the stresses and frustrations very well!  Hang in there, you will do great!

Neeeraj writes:

Hi Vincent, Cindy and Steph (following the recommendation of the podcast and eliminating the designation bias J),

First and foremost, absolutely thrilled and excited about this new podcast series, which to be honest, I have been eagerly waiting for. And incidentally, who better than the father of TWiXs, Dr. Racaniello, to embark upon it. Listening to the first episode, I was taken down the memory lane quite a few times. Having spent a memorable year at Cornell’s chemistry department as part of the Tri-Institutional Chemical biology or TPCB program (, I had the pleasure of enjoying the most beautiful fall and the ordeal of facing the most spine-chilling cold winters, within the same year. Ithaca is Gorges (I am sure Dr. Leifer can relate to this) and amazingly gorgeous (miss the trips by the cayuga lake). And finally having a graduate student in Steph as part of this trifecta, is just such an interesting blend to have for a podcast and I am sure it will be an immensely rewarding experience for everyone. The world of immunology is so dense and at times terminologically chaotic, that it helps to have experts delve into it and enlighten the broader audience. And must I say, it was fun to discover how the “toll” in the TLRs came to be. Who knew J.

Personally, having done a postdoc at Genentech in an immunology heavy work environment, I have certainly had my fair share of momentous experiences where a discovery just makes you sit in awe and be inspired. Thus in line with this, I am attaching a link to a paper by a former colleague at Genentech ( This was a truly remarkable and one of most seminal discoveries the world of innate immunity has probably seen in the recent history (I am obviously biased since I come from the same group). Given that a nobel prize had already been given for the discovery of TLR4 being the cell surface receptor for LPS, this study for the first time showed that in addition to TLR4, there is an intracellular cytosolic sensor  CASPASE 11, which is a highly conserved aspartyl protease. Intriguingly, mice challenged with LPS with a TLR4 -/- genotype survive only if caspase 11 is present and not otherwise (which was groundbreaking). Historically, it was always thought that caspase 1 was the downstream caspase that activates pyroptotic cell death, but my colleagues for the first time discovered that for LPS, it is actually Caspase 11 that is more critical (through sequencing they also showed that the historical Casp1(-/-) KO mouse model was actually Casp1/11 DKO). This really created a wave of anxiety in the field but the discoveries of Dr Dixit’s group at Genentech ( have since been substantiated and reproduced by several groups and most notably by the phenomenal group of Dr. Shao (

In subsequent studies it has been shown that not only does Caspase 11 binds to LPS directly (which activates it into the active form post autoproteolysis), it also proteolysis a downstream effector named Gasdermin D (, which assembles to form membrane pores leading to spillage of cellular content and eventual death ( . Personally for me, this was a totally remarkable phase (even though I wasn’t directly involved in the work) as I could see from close quarters the excitement and hard work that went into making a totally transformative discovery. So I just wanted to suggest one or all of these studies as food for thought and possible discussion point in a future episodes (if you deem feasible).  

Overall I would like to personally thank all the folks who have willingly devoted their time to this podcast and as a fellow former Graduate student, I totally empathize with Steph and wish her the very best in completing her Ph.D., without asking the dreaded “WHEN”. And to put things into perspective,  here is a cartoon from Ph.D. comics

Neeraj Kapoor, Ph.D.

Scientist II

SutroVax, Inc.

Ben writes:

Hello Immuners,

Congratulations on the new show. Really excited to learn more about the immune system with this podcast. With regards to suggestions for what you might cover on Immune I’d love to hear some discussion of philosophical implications of the field of immunology. Of course I realise that scientists are often reluctant to discuss questions beyond what the data shows but I hope you might agree that addressing some of the larger questions that immunology raises might help to add a human dimension to what is undoubtedly a very complex subject.

I recently read this paper – The Immune System and Its Ecology – from the journal Philosophy of Science which I think can be read as a really interesting argument for why our conceptions of immune function have really important philosophical implications. Perhaps you could discuss this paper in a future episode or at least share a few thoughts on the relationship between immunology and the philosophy of science.

Kind regards,


Roman writes:

Dear Immune team,

Love your new podcast — keep it up!

In the first episode, you mentioned that some macrophages originate in the yolk sac during development. Do these macrophages survive in an adult organism? I imagine that each individual macrophage cannot live for years, but they may multiply by division, preserving the line.

Do these yolk sac macrophages occupy any specific tissues or are somehow different from the bone marrow ones?

And another question about macrophages, if you don’t mind. My wife was giving probiotics to our son, and it occurred to me: how do macrophages know which bacteria are good and which are bad?

Thank you,