TWiV 726: Molecular animator Janet Iwasa

March 4, 2021

Janet Iwasa joins TWiV to recount how she became a molecular animator, including a pivot during her Ph.D. thesis research, the value of animations in science, and their latest animation of SARS-CoV-2 entry into cells.

Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Rich Condit, Brianne Barker and Kathy Spindler

Guest: Janet Iwasa

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Download TWiV 726 (68 MB .mp3, 113 min)
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Links for this episode

  • The Animation Lab 45:04, 1:16:38
  • SARS-CoV-2 animation 51:46
  • Documents for J&J COVID-19 vaccine review (FDA) 1:17:51
    • Phase III data (pdf) 1:18:39
    • Slide presentation of data (pdf) 1:22:08
    • Addendum (pdf) 1:29:41
    • Summary of v-Safe data (pdf) 1:34;50
  • Timestamps by Jolene. Thanks!

Weekly Picks 1:39:07

BrianneHow T cells see SARS-CoV2
RichIce bubbles in Lago Bianco, Switzerland
KathyMusic in COVID-19 control tents
VincentPerseverance runs on processors used in 1990s iMacs

Intro music is by Ronald Jenkees

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5 comments on “TWiV 726: Molecular animator Janet Iwasa

  1. John Bouttell Mar 4, 2021

    COVID-19 Q&A with A&V Livestream 3/3/21
    Re 20:30 Online glossary. Hi Vincent, I’d be happy to help. Perhaps we could use Wikipedia. Best wishes, John Bouttell in the UK.
    PS My surname is Boot-L

  2. Allan Seidel Mar 4, 2021

    Mr. Racaniello,

    There is a question regarding the coronavirus entry through a cell wall that has been nagging me ever since you described it in one of your 2020 Virology lectures. Seeing Janet Iwasa’s animation for this entry has aggravated the question. The question arises from the idea the virus particle “pulls” the cell wall toward it. Do we actually know the structural physical properties of all the elements involved to attribute the cell wall deformation to an external force on the cell wall? Even the idea that a virus particle floating in a flowable liquid could deform by force a distant cell wall of considerably larger mass without itself pulled to the cell wall instead defies conventional wisdom. In the physical world outside of the cell body world there would have to be structural elements of adequate strength to allow for the process as described to occur. What makes more physical sense to me to accomplish the cell wall bending outward at a particular location is a molecular mechanism that relaxes the tension forces between the cell wall’s outer surface molecules. This would result in the cell wall bending outward. The same dimensional changes might occur if elements from the virus particle were to occupy spaces between the cell wall’s outer molecules.

    Thank you for all your efforts to inform us.

  3. Bea Well Mar 4, 2021

    Where is Janet Iwasa link to see her animations? Found you MicroTV in April. It as been so comforting and refreshing to watch evidence based science. Your my go to site to debunk infodemic click bait pseudo-science.. Thank you for educating me I am a better person for it. Look forward to every show. Especially, the world according to Amy and Vincent every week!

  4. Wow…I had no idea cleavage would look like that!!! That is amazing.

    I can’t wait for the rest of the cycle and the tweaks. It is going to be sooo hard not to spend my every free hour looking at this and HIV.

    Super interesting that Janet’s hire was a spousal hire. That is a weird window in science where human relationships compliment innovation. This is also where privilege sticks it’s head in the window. Weird, cool and kind of not cool.

    JnJ rocks! You forgot to mention that it is only 10 bucks a shot. One shot, cheap, works in South Africa… sign the world up!! Put mRNA out of business… please. JnJ is showing how good work is better than fast work.

    Here’s my favorite vaccines so far looking at the data…

    #1 – the one I get
    #2 – JnJ!!!!
    #3- Sputnik V – I will wait for FDA of course but I really like the 2 shot strategy here.
    #4- Moderna
    #5- Phiza!
    #6 -Next one up…

    So glad to see the FDA look hard and have the data in hand. I am pretty excited about Novovax … but I think I’m likely to get a shot before that happens at this rate.

    Four great picks to boot.. this and TWiV 691: SciArt with Laura Splan are my absolute favorite shows ever!

  5. Sarah Randall May 11, 2021

    3. In episode 726, Janet Iwasa (molecular animator) responded to a question on her team’s “Seeing Diversity” project to expand inclusion opportunities for minority demographics. Within that discussion, there was a question on how to present illustrations which could help black scientists communicate their science to diverse audiences. Using Janet’s plan for her SARS-CoV-2 animation illustrations in her outro as a specific example of how this can be accomplished, may I suggest illustrations of the variants juxtaposed against the wild type SARS-CoV-2 to depict a visual explanation of the science behind infection and disease states?