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Featured Breakthroughs Podcast Episodes

Tune in to select Breakthroughs podcast episodes featuring Feinberg basic science faculty. To view all podcast episodes, please visit the Breakthroughs Podcast webpage.

Listen to the people behind the science

Investigating Therapies for Genetic Epilepsy with Alfred George, Jr., MD

Alfred George, Jr., MD, is a pioneer in understanding the mechanisms by which ion channel mutations cause a variety of inherited disorders, such as genetic epilepsy. He discusses his recent breakthroughs in the field and his optimism for future RNA therapeutics to treat rare genetic diseases.

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Cell-Based Treatments to Fight Diseases with Luisa Iruela-Arispe, PhD 

Cell and Developmental Biology is a field that's integral to finding new therapies for a wide variety of diseases. At Feinberg, Lusia Iruela-Arispe, PhDa vascular biologist, leads the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology as chair. In this episode, she talks about her research and the future of cell-based treatments for diseases.  

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A Vaccine Pathway for Herpes Virus with Gregory Smith, PhD

Gregory Smith, PhD, professor of Microbiology-Immunology at Feinberg, has been investigating a path to long-needed vaccine development for herpes virus. He recently published findings in the journal Nature that bring the possibility of a preventive vaccine a step closer. 
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COVID-19 Boosters Increase Protection with Alexis Demonbreun, PhD

What do we know about the effectiveness of COVID-19 boosters, and how might they better protect us from new variants such as omicron? Alexis Demonbreun, PhD, assistant professor of Pharmacology, offers insight. She is the author of a new study that shows COVID-19 boosters seem to supercharge antibody response.
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Human Genome Project for Proteins with Neil Kelleher, PhD

Millions of molecular proteins are swimming through our body's cells and many studies have discovered that these proteins are the main drivers of all human diseases. Scientists are now mapping proteins the way the Human Genome Project mapped genes. Northwestern's Neil Kelleher, PhD, is at the forefront of the Human Proteoform Project and explains how it could lead to more targeted and effective diagnostics and treatments for diseases.
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Earliest Signs of Parkinson's Disease with D. James Surmeier, PhD

Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered one of the earliest signs of Parkinson's disease, proving that damaged neuronal mitochondria alone can cause symptoms of the disease, according to a study published in Nature. Senior author D. James Surmeier, chair of the Feinberg department of Neuroscience, who has over 30 years of experience in the field, explains the importance of these findings for future Parkinson's research and therapeutics. 
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Advancing Muscular Dystrophy Research with Elizabeth McNally, MD, PhD

While there are more treatments now than ever before for neuromuscular diseases like muscular dystrophy, patients who have very specific gene mutations associated with these diseases have few options. Elizabeth McNally, MD, PhD, says a discovery in her lab could lead to a new therapy for muscular dystrophy, including its rare forms.
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Next-Generation COVID Vaccines with Pablo Penaloza-MacMaster, PhD

As the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 is causing breakthrough infections in some vaccinated people around the world, scientists at Northwestern Medicine are developing and studying potential next-generation COVID-19 vaccines that could be more effective at preventing and clearing breakthrough infections. Pablo Penaloza-MacMaster, assistant professor of Microbiology-Immunology at Feinberg, discusses recent studies from his lab that aim to improve current COVID-19 vaccines. 
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COVID-19 Antibody Testing with Elizabeth McNally, MD, PhD

A team of Northwestern scientists have come together from across disciplines to develop a COVID-19 antibody test designed for at-home use. Elizabeth McNally, MD, PhD, is part of the team working on this test to determine prior exposure to the virus.
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The Dangers of Unproven COVID-19 Therapies with Benjamin Singer, MD

While the world anxiously awaits a vaccine for COVID-19, some physicians on the front lines are trying new or repurposed therapies in an effort to help COVID patients. Benjamin Singer, MD, a Northwestern physician-scientist, discusses his experiences in the ICU during this time and his recently published letter warning against the use of unproven therapies.
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Investigating the New Coronavirus with Karla Satchell, PhD, Part 2

This is an update to the Jan. 28, 2020 episode about Northwestern's Karla Satchell's effort to lead an investigation into the structure biology of the components of COVID-19. The goal is to ultimately understand how to stop it from replicating in human cells through a medication or vaccine.
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The Future of Genetic Medicine with Elizabeth McNally, MD, PhD

Elizabeth McNally, MD, PhD, is a human geneticist, a Northwestern Medicine cardiologist and the director of the Center for Genetic Medicine at Northwestern. In this episode, she talks about her recent discoveries in the genetics of cardiovascular and neuromuscular disorders and shares what we can expect in the next few years in the field of genetic medicine.
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Epigenetics and Cancer with Ali Shilatifard, PhD

For three decades, Ali Shilatifard, PhD, has dedicated his career to revealing the causes of childhood leukemia and providing detailed molecular insight into the role of epigenetics in cancer. He hopes his discoveries will lead to a super drug that could end childhood leukemia and other cancers.
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Precision Medicine for African-Americans with Minoli Perera, PharmD, PhD

The field of pharmacogenomics – using a patient’s genome to predict how well they will respond to medication – is a hot area of medicine today. But, almost all data used in these predictions comes from people of European decent. Minoli Perera, PharmD, PhD, wants to change that. She is a pioneer in the area of pharmacogenomics in African-Americans and has some new discoveries to share.
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Chronic Pain and the Placebo Effect with A. Vania Apkarian, PhD

Chronic pain, such as lower back pain that lasts for months or years, affects 100 million Americans and costs half a trillion dollars a year in healthcare costs. It is also contributing to the current opioid crisis. A. Vania Apkarian, PhD, explains his recent discoveries related to chronic pain and how placebos may be a very effective option for some.
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Understanding the Biology of Autism with Feinberg Scientist Peter Penzes, PhD

Peter Penzes, PhD, says the field of autism neurobiology is ripe for discovery and his team at the new Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment at Feinberg is laying the groundwork for new treatments for the disorder.
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