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While Dr. Jospeh Masci could speak on numerous specific issues in the realm of infectious diseases microbiology, today’s discussion centers on a general exploration of virus behaviors and characteristics.

In this podcast, he addresses

  • Why he centered his work on the study of common infectious diseases and those with special urgency such as HIV/AIDS and COVID-19; 
  • How varied virus behaviors are, from the speed at which they infect to their morphology and their means of infection; and
  • How these behaviors indicate even more mystery about the history of virus origin, relationship to the evolution of bacteria, and intracellular-dependence.

Joseph R. Masci is a clinical professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Environmental Medicine and Public Health, and Global Health at Mount Sinai. His expertise includes HIV/AIDS diagnosis and treatment, general infectious diseases, tropical medicine, and emergency preparedness.

He’s currently coauthoring a book with Richard about viruses. He begins by describing how he was inspired by the infectious disease faculty in medical school and went on to work in the area, meeting the AIDS crisis and bioterrorism concerns post 9/11, and now is heavily focused on investigating COVID-19. The conversation turns into speculations about whether viruses should be considered alive and if that designation ultimately maters. This opens up a deep dive into virus behaviors.

One particular characteristic that varies by virus and therefore effects infectious disease treatment is latency or the dormant stage. He discusses how such a period is quite common in many viruses, commenting that HIV can have long latency while cold viruses might hold dormancy for only a day or two. He connects this with how the virus takes hold in human cells and why this timing differs according to the virus mechanisms. They also discuss what factors dictate virulence and when passage from human to human increases or decreases the virulent attributes with specific examples.

He adds that it’s important to consider what the host contributes to the interaction as well as other organisms and compounds. The discussion also delves into virus origins, the nature of bacteria and virus coevolution, signaling between viruses, and the possibility of viruses working together with job-specific attributes.

For more, see his NIH work and his website at Mount Sinai: mountsinai.org/profiles/joseph-r-masci.

Available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/2Os0myK

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