Category Archives: UCTV

CARTA: The Impact of Infectious Disease on Humans and Our Origins

As humanity experiences an epic upheaval with the Novel Coronavirus pandemic, we are painfully admonished of how throughout existence, infectious diseases have had profound influences on the evolution of their host populations.

In the case of humans, the host species has also shaped pathogen dynamics and virulence via a multitude of factors. Some ancient factors range from changes in social organization, group size, and exploitation of varied habitats and their animals and plant resources. More recently, developments including settlement, agriculture, technology, rapid long-distance travel, medicine and global economic integration continue to shape epidemics and the human host populations.

We are witnessing the results of all these factors playing out before us as we struggle with this pandemic.

Browse more programs in CARTA Presents: The Impact of Infectious Disease on Humans and our Origins.


Dangerously Hot Days are Coming

The United States is facing a potentially staggering expansion of dangerous heat over the coming decades.

Kristina Dahl, Senior Climate Scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, explains off-the-charts deadly heat, just how bad it could get, and what we can do to avert the worst-case scenario.

She explores a recently released report that shows the rapid, widespread increases in extreme heat that are projected to occur across the country due to climate change. This combination of temperature and humidity includes conditions so extreme that a heat index cannot be measured. The results show that aggressive emissions reductions to limit global warming to 3.6 F or less would limit the intensity of the coming heat.

Dahl asks us to consider our choice: We can continue on our current path, where we fail to reduce emissions and extreme heat soars. Or we can take bold action now to dramatically reduce emissions and prevent the worst from becoming reality.

Watch Killer Heat in the United States.


Music Overcoming Barriers

Our border with Mexico is the catalyst for an impassioned and often vituperous debate about immigration, citizenship, and related issues. In the midst of this furor opportunities for mutually-beneficial fellowship are often scorned when not overlooked altogether, but a growing network of artists and musicians on both sides of the divide are working to transcend barriers, both physical and sociological, to “cross-pollinate” the two cultures. In so doing they hope to have a broader positive impact on US-Mexico relations.

Such efforts at creating camaraderie and forging cross-cultural alliances have a rich history tracing back at least one hundred and fifty years. Radio host Betto Arcos (NPR, BBC Radio 3) invited three prominent figures in Latin jazz, Afro Latin music, and other genres to discuss today’s Border initiatives within that history’s context. The guests include Martha Gonzalez, songwriter and lead singer of Quetzl and an Associate Professor at Scripps/Claremont College; Arturo O’Farrill, Artistic Director of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance and Professor and Associate Dean at UCLA; and Jorge Castillo, Founder and Director of the annual Fandango Fronterizo festival.

One focus of the conversation is fandango as practiced in Veracruz, Mexico. Originating in Spain and Portugal in the early 18th century, the style has evolved in the New World while retaining some of fandango’s traditional features. In Veracruz fandango is often accompanied by Son jarocho music, a folkloric style that incorporates indigenous, Spanish, and African influences to reflect the region’s fabled diversity. The three panelists in this program stress that the emphasis of fandango is on community, which makes the music ideally suited to the goal of fostering brotherhood. Their lively discussion topics also include fandango’s unique characteristics; its ongoing popularity; how a neophyte may best approach the music; the balancing act between maintaining tradition and encouraging innovation; and the stresses that can arise from enthusiastic amateurism vs. trained professionalism (or inclusionary vs. “elitist”).

For both novice and seasoned veteran, Music and the Border provides an excellent overview of the vital fandango genre, Fandango Fronterizo, and their roles in lessening tensions in the border regions.

Watch Music and the Border.


COVID-19 and the 2020 Election

Will there even be an election in 2020? A panel of UC Berkeley experts in politics, public policy, cybersecurity and law, say yes. The constitution is clear about that.

Can we predict the effect of the pandemic on results? Not yet. We can look at traditional indicators, the economy and the president’s approval rating, but we don’t yet know if the economy will pick up or if the virus will surge in the fall.

“The Trump administration has decided to make an enormous policy and political bet, and the bet is that they can re-open the economy, and the economy will come back in time for the election, and that COVID-19 won’t re-erupt in a way that will either stifle those efforts or kill lots of people,” says Henry Brady, Dean of the Goldman School at UC Berkeley.

There is a question of how the threat of contracting COVID-19 will affect voter turnout, especially among minority voters, and if mail-in voting will be a successful replacement for in-person voting.

This conversation took place May 8th, before the events of the past week. Many of the points are in even sharper relief today in this interesting and sobering look at the next few months leading to the election and ultimately the swearing in January 2021.

Watch How COVID-19 will Shape the 2020 Election.


Staff Picks Featuring UCTV’s Science Producer

Science is all around us. Our science producer picked twelve programs that reflect the impact of science on both our daily lives and on complex global issues. We rely on facts, data and past results to inform decisions big and small. Enjoy!

A Deep Look into COVID-19: Vaccines, Drugs and the Evolutionary Arms Race
As the entirety of humanity grapples with the most serious global challenge in over a century nations and societies have responded, or not, by leveraging the only tool we have to respond – the understanding that science gives us about the SARS-CoV-2 virus, its spread and the COVID-19 disease which it causes. The only path to managing this new pathogen – which like measles, polio, pertussis and other pathologies, will forever be amongst humans – will be through the development of effective, proven treatments and immunization.

In this second video from the A Deep Look into COVID-19 series, UC San Diego infectious disease researchers provide an overview of the potential for treatments and vaccines for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They share their expertise in the dynamics of the SARS-CoV-2 host-pathogen interactions, epidemic and pandemic cycles, and pathways that may lead to vaccines and treatments to respond to this global challenge.

A Deep Look into the Biology and Evolution of COVID-19
UC San Diego infectious disease researchers provide an overview of the biology and evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, cause of COVID-19 disease which is sweeping the globe in a pandemic. They share their expertise in the dynamics of host-pathogen interactions and viral life-cycles and how they relate to this global challenge.

Saturday Science at Scripps Research: A Molecular Roadmap to Global Health
Immunologist Erica Ollman Saphire, an expert who has worked on the front lines in west Africa battling viral hemorrhagic fevers, gives a fascinating and sometimes frightening on-the-ground account of how the VIC global consortium developed the only effective strategy to fight the Ebola virus.

Outsmarting Outbreaks: Using Genomics to Track Viruses: In The Front Row at Scripps Research
In this Front Row presentation, Kristian Andersen shares how he, with a global network of collaborators, applies a ‘team science’ approach to deciphering outbreaks of emerging diseases such as Ebola and Lassa Virus. His highly cross-disciplinary work combines next-generation sequencing, computational biology, experimentation and field work to investigate how viruses emerge and cause large-scale outbreaks.

The Philadelphia Measles Epidemic
Paul Offit, MD is a Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He reviews the details of the 1991 Philadelphia measles epidemic and the measures taken by the city to stop it. Offit specializes in infectious diseases and on vaccines, immunology, and virology.

CARTA: Imagination and Human Origins: Alysson Muotri – Reconstructing the Neanderthal Mind in a Dish
Alysson Muotri of UC San Diego’s Stem Cell Program discusses his work creating cortical organoids from modern humans as well as organoids with genetic characteristics similar to Neanderthal to compare differences in neural development.

A Neanderthal Perspective on Human Origins with Svante Pääbo – 2018 Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest
Most people are part-Neanderthal, the closest extinct human relative. Svante Pääbo explores human genetic evolution by analyzing preserved genetic material from the remains of ancient organisms, including Neanderthals. What can we learn from the genomes of our closest evolutionary relatives? Pääbo is an evolutionary anthropologist and pioneer of paleogenetics and the director of the Max Plank Institute of Evolutionary Genetics. He was awarded the 2018 Nierenberg Award for Science in the Public Interest.

CARTA: Imagination and Human Origins: Adrie & Alfons Kennis – Using Imagination to Create Reconstructions of Ancient Hominins
A fascinating look at how the Kennis brothers combine science and imagination to reconstruct ancient hominins.

Searching for Autism in our Social Brain
Biological anthropologist Katerina Semendeferi describes how the human brain’s extraordinary powers of social cognition may predispose only humans to conditions like autism and how she aids the search for the neurophysiology underlying these conditions.

Connecting Stem Cell-Derived Brain and Eye Models with 3D Printing
Top scientists are growing miniature brains and retinas from stem cells in their labs, and connecting them with 3D printed tissue. The team is hoping to gain new insight into the earliest stages of brain and eye development, in order to cure a whole host of diseases.

Working with Natural Born Killers: Using Natural Killer Cells to Improve Cancer Immunotherapies
Natural Killer – or NK – cells are one of our immune systems most potent defenses, able to attack viral infections and destroy cells that exhibit tumorigenic characteristics. UC San Diego physician Dr. Dan Kaufman, who has specialized in treating blood cancers for over 20 years now leads a research group at the UC San Diego Stem Cell program that is using induced pluripotent stem cells to generate NK cells that are targeted to destroy cancer cells. With the goal of providing safer, more effective, off-the-shelf cancer immunotherapies, the methods his lab has developed are being employed in a first-of-its-kind clinical trial anywhere in the world being conducted at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Curing Leukemia: From Zebrafish to Alpha Clinics
Alysson Muotri explores how discoveries made using tiny Zebrafish will lead to cures for blood diseases like leukemia using stem cells, and how those cures will reach patients through California’s network of Alpha Clinics.

Explore More Science on UCTV.