Interesting Stories in the History of Diagnostics | Video Series

Episode 1 - The Dynamizer

In this installment of our "Interesting Stories in the History of Diagnostics" series, Dr. Mickey Urdea shares the story of the Dynamizer, a diagnostic device from the early 20th century which parallels the rise and fall of a more modern example - Theranos.

Episode 2 - What the Nose Knows

In this installment of our "Interesting Stories in the History of Diagnostics" series, Dr. Mickey Urdea chronicles the history of the use of smell in diagnostics, from Hippocrates to present day cancer-sniffing dogs (yes, really!).

Episode 3 - This Wormy World

In the third episode of our "Interesting Stories in the History of Diagnostics" series, Dr. Mickey Urdea expounds on the history of diseases caused by helminths - aka parasitic worms! Helminth diseases still affect more than 1.5 billion people worldwide (24% of the world's population!) today, and properly testing for the presence of worms is a challenge that the diagnostics industry continues to master. From being the subject of Charles Darwin's best-selling book (really!) to being the impetus for the founding of the Rockefeller Foundation, worms have had a surprisingly significant effect on diagnostics history.

Episode 4 (Part One) - "Can't Live With 'Em, Can't Live Without 'Em!" Part One

In this two-part episode of Interesting Stories in the History of Diagnostics, Dr. Mickey Urdea is discussing bacteria, and why we "Can't Live With 'Em, Can't Live Without 'Em!" Part One of this two-part series canvasses the history of bacteria from the earth's formation to the modern day, and where to find them from the bottom of the Mariana Trench to inside of our own bodies. Tune in for Part Two coming up soon to hear about the history of bacterial culture, sequencing, and amplification methods, and how those developments changed how we diagnose and treat bacterial diseases!

Episode 4 (Part Two) - "Can't Live With 'Em, Can't Live Without 'Em!" Part Two

In Part Two of Dr. Mickey Urdea's foray into the history of bacteria, the focus is on the history of bacterial culture, sequencing, and amplification methods, and how those developments changed how we diagnose and treat bacterial diseases! From the work of two-time Nobel laureate biochemist Fred Sanger to the most advanced sequencing panels of the present day and how they're being utilized, Part Two covers it all.

Episode 5 – “A • B • C • D • eDNA!”

This week, Dr. Mickey Urdea is exploring eDNA, or environmental DNA, and its uses and applications in diagnostics! Tune in to hear about wastewater testing, just how much DNA can be found outside of a zoo, and why the half-life of DNA means that we’ll never have a Jurassic Park (sorry, kids!).

Episode 6 –  “Within Spitting Distance of Saliva!”

In episode 6, we’re not reading tea leaves -  we’re reading saliva! Saliva is a particularly interesting series of compounds that can tell a surprisingly detailed story of a person’s health, and it can be used to test for a variety of different biomarkers which can correlate to a particular disease state, including tests for HIV antibodies, SARS-CoV-2, and even certain forms of cancer! From Yale University’s SalivaDirect protocol for Covid-19 detection to dentists looking to test for oral cancer while they fill a cavity, commonly using saliva as a convenient sample is within spitting distance!

Episode 7 – “Going Viral With Viral Load!”

Today, Dr. Mickey Urdea gets to discuss his own achievements as the inventor of “viral load”, or the quantitative measure of viral RNA, and as the leader of the team at Chiron Corporation to first utilize this method in order to monitor the effectiveness of antiviral therapy for HIV patients over time – in fact, it’s the method that is still used today! Come hear the story straight from the source, with behind-the-scenes anecdotes about the initial pushback against viral load testing, the Chiron team (and their collaborators) behind the development of the test, and viral load’s path to acceptance in the medical community.

Episode 8 – “Do We Have a Quorum?"

In this episode, Dr. Mickey Urdea asks, "Do we have a quorum?" Quorum sensing, that is! Gather round by the light of the bobtail squid to learn more about this phenomenon which allows certain bacteria to “think” collectively as a group in order to express bioluminescence, competence, virulence, and even pathogenesis, and why Mickey believes that quorum sensing has potential dynamic applications in diagnostics.

Episode 9 – "Weighing In On The Biggest Loser!"

This week, Dr. Mickey Urdea is weighing in on the reality TV show, "The Biggest Loser"! Having collaborated with the chief medical officer for three seasons of the show's run, Mickey provides a unique perspective on the science behind the extreme weight loss featured in the competition, and he gives the skinny on how, based solely on their bloodwork, he was able to predict contestants' elimination weeks ahead of time!

Episode 11 – “Going With The Lateral Flow!”

On this episode, Mickey Urdea is going with the flow - the lateral flow! The most commonly known type of lateral flow assay is the pregnancy test, but now with self-tests for Covid-19, LFAs are more popular than ever! Mickey gives you the rundown on the development of LFAs and their components, the different common targets for lateral flow tests, and where the technology is today and where it is going (or flowing).

Episode 10 – “You Must Be Pollen My Leg!"

On this week’s episode, Dr. Mickey Urdea is reviewing palynology, the study of grain, pollen, and other spores, and its use in forensics! Dr. Urdea covers how palynology has been used (or underused) in the 20th century, and discusses two specific criminal cases in which convictions have been determined with palynological evidence. And he's not pollen your leg!

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