Neeraj writes:

Hi folks,

Listening to the latest TWiV, I just wanted to send the following link your way.

Maybe the word vaccine does need to be updated . Thanks for the discussion.



Neeraj kapoor, Ph.D.

Scientist II, Research

Sutrovax. Inc,

Anthony writes:

In TWiV #478, there was mention of vaccine produced in the past on farms in Clifton and Paterson. I wonder if in Clifton production was related to the US Animal Quarantine facility that was located there:



Alexandra writes:

Dear TWiV,

I am a new TWiV listener and have loved listening to you all on my daily commute. I worked a bit with viruses during my undergrad, and have since been doing malaria research but have been keeping up with the world of virology thanks to TWiV and I am now thinking about doing my PhD in a virology lab.

I really enjoyed this week’s episode (478) on the history of the smallpox vaccine. The confusion surrounding which virus makes up the vaccine and confers protection against smallpox got me thinking about cross-reactive antibodies and reminded me of the story of two Polish doctors who exploited this phenomenon to fake a typhus epidemic during WWII to save Jews from getting sent to concentration camps.

Eugene Lazowski and Stanislaw Matulewicz injected people in their village with Proteus vulgaris – a bacterium whose worst symptom is the occasional UTI. Infection with Proteus causes the production of cross-reactive antibodies against Rickettsia proawazekii (the causative agent of typhus). This leads to a fake-positive blood test for typhus. After being sent blood samples, the Nazis were convinced of the epidemic and the town was quarantined to stop the spread, thus sparing an estimated 8,000 people from being sent to concentration camps. At one point, when the Nazis grew suspicious due to the lack of deaths, they paid the town a visit and the doctors arranged the sickest-looking people, who could all produce positive blood tests, for their visitors to inspect. The inspectors did not get very close for fear of infection and the epidemic was deemed legitimate. I think this is an awesome story, even if it is about bacteria and not viruses.

The doctors published an article about this in an ASM newsletter in 1977 that I haven’t been able to track down, but I did find a short BMJ article from 1990 and a blog post in Discover magazine that tell the story nicely.

Thanks for all you do!



Islam writes:

Dear TWiVome,

I am writing this letter to all the TWiV listeners out there and hoping that it will get read on time. The Keck Futures Initiative – a program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine – is currently seeking nominations for the 2018 Communication Awards for individuals or teams who have developed creative, original works that address issues and advances in science, engineering and/or medicine for the general public. Winners will be awarded $20,000 and honored at a ceremony during fall in Washington, DC.

I guess, since you are listening to this letter right now, you don’t need a lengthy introduction, and you probably agree with me that such an award is very well deserved for TWiV and all other sister Microbe TV podcasts. For almost 10 years, Professor Racaniello and all of his wonderful co-hosts have been tirelessly producing these jewels of knowledge with very limited resources and no financial gain. Their reward is spreading their knowledge and infecting us with their genuine passion for science. In one of the TWiVs recorded at Tufts, I witnessed Professor Racaniello carrying his podcasting gear like his baby and putting it together like a piece of art. In another TWiV recorded at ASM Microbe 2017, he was sitting in a corner with his earphones on editing the soundtrack to get it released at the usual time on Sunday morning. Where does this guy get all of this passion? He sometimes does it 3 times a week, my God! And it is not just him; he has an impressive like-minded group of expert colleagues who would sit there for few good hours to prepare for the weekly show, then for about 2 hours to record it. Do you know how much dedication it takes to do this for 10 years non-stop? I can keep going forever, but I will cut it short for now to get down to the main point of my letter.

It is our turn to show a gesture of support and appreciation. Nominations for the National Academies Communication Awards are accepted until February 9th. So, please, hurry up and turn your web browsers to this URL: []. The Nomination process is very straightforward, and I promise, it will not take more than few minutes. Please, choose “Online” for the category of your nomination. I think the “Online Entry title” should be Microbe TV, and the “Online Publishers” are Professor Racaniello and his co-hosts. For the “Online Publish Date”, it has to be during 2017; just use January 1st. Then, write about a 100-words summary of what you think of TWiV (and its sister podcasts). If you need detailed info, please check out the info graph accompanying this blog post: []. Then provide web URLs of your favorite Microbe TV podcasts. You have up to 6 URLs, so you could also refer to your favorite blog posts on [] or YouTube lectures on []. Finally, Professor Racaniello’s contact info can be found on his Columbia’s web page: [].

And until Bill Gates catches the TWiV bug and helps Professor Racaniello build his dream glass-doored science podcasting studio on Main St., let us show the whole world that TWiV has a bunch of faithful listeners who will support their show all the way.

Thanks very much for your time.

Jolene writes:

Happy 2018 to all my favorite TWiVsters,

This paper [] came to my attention late last year and I thought it might be an interesting one for TWiV. In the paper, they explore a phenomenon where viral capsids are detected by the innate immune system. This was apparently not the first time it has been seen, but I hadn’t heard of it before. With such conserved folds in virus capsid proteins, who would be surprised that the immune system might detect the arrayed arrangement rather than the amino acids? To me it was a bit reminiscent of how bacterial LPS is detected.

I have a somewhat related pick of the week: Immune Quest, a game to help with learning the immune system. In my experience (both teaching and as a student!), students need every bit of help they can get to understand the terms (jargon) and interconnections within the immune system. A recent paper in the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education describes a small study where they used it in a class. I have not tried the game myself, but I probably will at my next opportunity to teach the subject. Anyone else tried it yet?

Book emails:

Islam writes:

Dear TWiViridae,

I tried before to solve the crossword posted on the show notes of TWiV 474, but could not finish it because of the specific references to ASV12. I was very excited today when I heard you guys saying that it is fine to submit incomplete ones. So, here you go. I hope I got all the virology ones right. The only one that puzzled me was 29 across: orthomyxovirus genus. I thought it should be influenza, but it didn’t fit in the space.

I am not submitting it to win the book. I am submitting it for the love of TWiV, which is my most valuable prize ever 🙂

My wife and kids are jealous because they see me restless every Sunday morning until the new episode is out, then they know that it is TWiV time; nobody can talk to me until I finish my weekly virology fix.

Please, keep the wonderful TWiVs coming and I look forward for more crossword puzzles.

Ben writes:

Hi Dr. Racaniello,

I’m writing to enter your contest for the neurotropic virus book you referenced on TWiV. For what its worth, I’m a fifth-year PhD student in Matthias Schnell’s lab at Thomas Jefferson University. I work on rabies virus, which I suppose is about as neurotropic as you can be.


Ben Davis

Benjamin writes:
Why not ask a question while I’m at it.

Years ago, there was an excellent listener pick: “Enjoy Your Cells”. My children love this four book educational series (also includes “Germ Zappers, “Gene Machines”, and “Have a Nice DNA”). But now my nine year old tells me he wants to study plant biology. Are there any books you would recommend about plant biology that are accessible to children, and yet which goes into some interesting depth? Perhaps one of your listeners knows of one, or else would like to write one? I’ve been searching, but I’m starting to suspect such a book does not yet exist.

Patrick writes:

Hello Dr. Racaniello and the TWiV team,

My mentor recently introduced me to your podcast, and I have quickly become a big fan. I also can never say no to free stuff, so I thought I’d throw my name in the hat.



Kerry writes:

Dear Virologists,

Due to issues of life and work, I’m several months behind on my TWI* listening. If I had known there was a crossword, I would have done my best even without a contest.

I will look it up at lunch as I love crossword puzzles. I’ve never participated in a contest as I didn’t think it fair to people in science that listen. I was a language major in college, but I love science.

Thank you for everything you guys do,


PS: Not trying to get this read on the show, I just wanted you guys to know how much I appreciate all you’ve taught me. I’ve never figured out what to say for an email to you before, though I’ve thought at length.

Casey writes:

Dear Dr. Racaniello and team,

Hello there! Oh no, I’m sorry to hear that no one filled out the Crossword Puzzle. I thought it was a great idea and am disappointed that even I did not do so. I have printed it and am working on it now. Better late than never, I hope? I’ll send it to you when I’ve reached the limits of my knowledge.

Would love to win the book!



I have to admit: I had a bit more difficulty than I expected! But I figured I would share with you my best attempt.

Please keep doing what you’re doing!

Ashley writes:


37F / 2.8C, partly cloudy, in Northern Virginia.

I don’t often listen to podcasts, but when I do, I make sure it is TWIV.

I was listening to episode 478, and Vincent mentioned that no one completed the crossword puzzle for the book.

I found the puzzle and tried to complete it as much as possible without searching the internet for assistance. I was not able to go to ASV 2012 so I wasn’t able to figure out the answers for some of the clues. Has everyone on TWIV completed the puzzle? Even with some of the letters, there are not enough letters to figure out the ASV 2012 specific clues without performing an internet search.

I am interested in the book, Neurotropic Viral Infections.

I work in the virology field as well, but was thrown into it without much choice. I took Vincent’s Coursera Virology courses to help me in with my job. They were very informative! Thank you!!! Virology wasn’t exactly where I wanted to go in the Biology field, but it has been very interesting.

The TWIV podcast has helped me to stay up to date on many new developments in virology. I listen mostly while I am working in the lab.

Thank you all members of TWIV for making an interesting podcast!


Anthony writes:

Please enter my email in the book drawing.

I looked forward to completing the crossword puzzle thinking that it would be like preparing for a test. I was disappointed when I saw that a number of the questions were event specific. I thought that I knew one of the questions immediately — Scientist in training — but neither postdoc nor postdoctoral worked. As there was not enough material to get some answers and then puzzle out the rest, I gave up.

If the next crossword puzzle is less of a Gordian Knot, I’ll try again.

Thank you.

Erik writes:

Hi TWiVome,

I would be thrilled to be entered into the drawing for the book on neurotropic viruses!

I think I must have been distracted while listening the last time you did the book contest which involved doing a crossword puzzle, otherwise I would have had fun doing it (where can it be found, by the way?). A couple Christmases ago my sister got me a whole book of microbiology-themed crosswords!

As I think back on the viruses I’ve worked with in the past 5 years or so, it is just occuring to me that almost every one of them is neurotropic (LCMV, VSV, Zika, HSV). I don’t know why I never recognized that research “arc” before.

Anyways, thank you for the great podcasts!


P.S. Great news! I’ve been applying to grad schools for the past 4 years and never got in, but apparently the fifth time’s the charm! I’ve been accepted into UMass Med! I’m hoping to meet Jeremy Luban! His work seems really cool!

Ryan writes:


I just started listening to your podcast a few weeks ago for my Virology course, so I missed out on the crossword!

Ryan Nintzel, ’18

Gonzaga University

Mark writes:

Hello TWiVites,

This is for a chance to win the book. The word is: neurotrophic.

All the best.


Prof. Malcolm A McCrae,

School of Life Sciences,

University of Warwick,

Ian writes:

Greetings from Plum Island.

In brief, thank you for the excellent podcast.

Adam writes:

Dear TWIVers,

I’ve been with the podcast since the very early days of the show (possibly episode 1. I don’t really remember. It was long enough ago that when I told people I listened to podcasts they would give me a quizzical look.) I’m coming to the end of my postdoc appointment in XJ Meng’s lab right now and looking for the next career step. Just thought I’d throw my name in for the book and make a plug for a microbiology blog I’m starting, [ad: URL fixed.] The first post I put up discusses gut viruses using bacteria to hitch a ride to gut cells and facilitate recombination.



Jason writes:

Hello TWiV-ers!

I’ve known about TWiV for a long time, having done my graduate work in the lab of Dr. Michael Bouchard, one of Vincent’s former students. It wasn’t until Vincent brought TWiV to UPenn recently when I really started listening though (I’m doing postdoctoral research in the lab of Dr. Paul Lieberman at The Wistar Institute, so it was just a quick step across the street), and now TWiV has become a vital part of my work week.

Anyway, I’d love a copy of the book!  — And just to make you feel better about the potential for using a crossword puzzle, I figured I would also send along my feeble attempt at completing the puzzle. Sadly, it’s been sitting on my desk, incomplete, for a couple of weeks. I never sent it in because this is as far as I was able to get. Some of them were pretty tough without having been at ASV 2012!

Looking forward to continued viral adventures…keep up the great work!

Jason Lamontagne, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Lieberman Lab

The Wistar Institute

Eliana writes:

Hello TWIV team,

I am a research assistant in Charles Rice’s Lab at The Rockefeller University. I have to apologize for not sending in my (incomplete) crossword earlier but I assumed I had to complete it to qualify (and to not embarrass myself). I tried it when it was first posted but I have to say it is quite hard finding archived information on the 2012 ASV conference (the website for the conference is no longer accessible). But, because Dr. Spindler asked if we could send in our incomplete puzzles I figured I’d try! I of course would appreciate the book but felt I should work for it (as per the comments on the podcast).

Thank you for all that you do!


Kenneth A. Rogers, PhD

Assistant Research Professor

New Iberia Research Center

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Morgan writes:

Dear TWIV,

Thanks for the great discussion this week! After taking an immunology class in autumn at the University of Washington, I was looking for a podcast on immunology. I was pleasantly surprised to find not only IMMUNE but podcasts on microbiology, virology, and parasitology! While I love the microbiology class I am taking currently, I am very excited to take virology next quarter because of the interesting papers and topics you delve into each week. I am hoping to finish the virology Youtube lectures soon and, if I win the book, to have some light reading on neurotropic viruses over spring break.

P.S. This was on TWIP I think a while back, but I recall that a Medical Laboratory Scientist emailed and the ASCP was mentioned in conversation. I believe someone mentioned that it stands for American Society of Clinical Parasitology, but it actually stands for the American Society for Clinical Pathology. I am a Medical Laboratory Science student so I happened to know this. 🙂



Seattle, WA


Dr Matthew Bates, PhD| Senior Lecturer in Microbiology
Joseph Banks laboratories, School of Life Sciences,

University of Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincolnshire


Fabian writes:

Hi folks,

I know it’s a shame I’m just writing to you now when you give away the book for free but the crossword seemed really hard to me (especially when you’re not a native speaker). I’m on my way home from my PhD lab right now in Hanover, Germany, where I work at the Twincore Institute for experimental and clinical infection research, which is a joined venture between the Hanover Medical School and the Helmholtz Center for Infection research. Even though I came for the HIV, I work on a project about Chikungunya now – struck me as the more interesting subject as I am quite interested in emerging diseases. Keep up the good work and make sure the book finds its way to Germany!

All the best,


PS: weather is cold and rainy, maybe 5C? Shouldn’t have move to northern Germany again!

Niraj writes:

Let’s check my luck (Attempt Number 000-00-0001)!

David writes:

Dear Twiv,

Must admit that I was tempted to have a go at the crossword puzzle, but it does require some off time and I have not had too much of that since the year started. I guess for most the start of the year means a surge in research or business activity.

In any case, I have always been fascinated by the brain and any work digging into it must be worth reading.

Thanks for the great show,

Best regards,

David Dionys

Kerri writes:

Hello TWiV Team!

I adore your podcast, and the related podcasts TWiP, TWiEVO, and TWiM! I can’t emphasize enough how helpful it is to have  current research and scientific events put into perspective by such knowledgeable experts. As a graduate student in a disease ecology lab, I find these podcasts an invaluable resource. I wish I had discovered them sooner, but at least it will be a very long time before I run out of quality educational entertainment!

Keep up the great work!

Kimberly Ritola, PhD

Research Scientist/Manager of Virus Services

HHMI-Janelia Research Campus