Podcast series documents
COVID-19 experiences

Special series of Pipettes & Politics includes interviews with faculty members, a first responder, NIGMS leader Jon Lorsch and others
Benjamin Corb
April 15, 2020

As COVID-19 spread throughout the country, state and local governments put into place a series of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, as well as other restrictions, to encourage us all to do our parts to mitigate the pandemic. Our offices, labs and universities have closed; our children’s schools have closed; and our local bars and restaurants have closed. We’ve had a shared, yet uniquely individual, experience managing our new normal.

In an ongoing special series of our podcast Pipettes & Politics, I’ve tried to capture what it's like during the pandemic for different members of the community — sometimes exploring the intersection of science and policy, where I live professionally, and other times exploring concerns a bit outside that realm. Below is a summary of the interviews posted so far.



Episode 1: Addiction, funding and advocacy

I spoke with Andrew Kessler, principal of Slingshot Solutions. I met Keller when he served with me on the board of directors for the Coalition for Health Funding. He represents those who provide health services to people with substance abuse disorders. We talked about how Congress’ supplemental bills have offered some support for patients in need and about how social distancing is uniquely problematic for addicts.

Episode 2: What it's like on the front lines

Next up, I spoke with a mentor of mine, Bill Ackley. Years ago, I served as an emergency medical technician in Connecticut, and Ackley was my trainer and adviser. Now he serves as the special operations and preparedness chairman for Southwestern Connecticut Region 1 Emergency Medical Services. His region is a suburb of New York City, and he shared with me how first responders are dealing with being on the front lines of the pandemic.

Episode 3: Lab closures and online education

This episode featured a panel of ASBMB Public Affairs Advisory Committee members. These faculty members discussed how they have handled hibernating their research laboratories and moving their teaching online.

Episode 4: NIH funding and flexibilities

My next interview was with Jon Lorsch, director of the National Institute for General Medical Sciences. We talked about the funding opportunities for investigators who want to conduct SARS-Cov-2 research. We also discussed policies the National Institutes of Health is implementing to support investigators. Spoiler: I found out Lorsch is jealous that his colleague Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has his own doughnut and bobblehead.

Episode 5: Treating COVID-19 — fact and fiction

I spoke with Bill Sullivan, author and professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Indiana School of Medicine, about the pros of cons of hydroxychloroquine. The drug has been touted by some, including President Donald Trump, as a potential wonder therapy for COVID-19 patients. We discussed how the drug affects the virus and its safety and effectiveness.

Episode 6: Legislating from afar

Finally, I went back to my Connecticut roots and interviewed my friend and Connecticut state legislator JP Sredzinski. JP offered an inside look at how a legislature can operate while its members are not allowed to meet — and how hard it is to be an elected official who must avoid in-person contact with constituents. JP also talked about experiencing symptoms of what was likely COVID-19.

I hope that this series of interviews is informative and sheds light on how members of the community are dealing with the pandemic. I have more interviews in the pipeline and welcome your suggestions for other potential interviewees. Email

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Benjamin Corb

Benjamin Corb is the former director of public affairs at ASBMB.

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