Podcast Library

  • Episode 1

    Snorkeling Elephants

    In our first episode, we talk with University of California physiologist John West about snorkeling elephants, galloping race horses and flying pigeons. Marshall Montrose tells us why the stomach doesn't digest itself. And finally, Greg Atkinson describes the benefits the afternoon nap may have for your heart.
  • Episode 2

    Prosthetic Arms, Frozen Frogs and Alligator Hearts

    In this episode we speak with Todd Kuiken, a doctor at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and a professor at Northwestern University, about his efforts to develop a prosthetic arm that responds directly to signals from the brain. He describes his latest research, which appears in the Journal of Neurophysiology. (Begins at 01:41) In the final segment, we talk to Jim Hicks of the University of California at Irvine about the uniquely structured alligator heart and the role it plays in digestion. (Begins at 18:34)
  • Episode 3

    Physiology of the Season

    In this special holiday edition, we’ll talk to Perry Barboza of the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and Lisa Leon of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick Massachusetts. Dr. Barboza explains how a reindeer’s physiology allows survival under such frigid winters with so little food. Dr. Leon will look at how humans adapt to extremes of heat and cold. They will also give us pointers on how to help Santa, Rudolph and the gang as they circumnavigate the globe.
  • Episode 4

    Severe Asthma, Video Games, 'One Physiology'

    In our fourth episode, we talk to Ronald Sorkness (1:29) about his study on severe asthma that appears in the Journal of Applied Physiology. We'll also ask David Spierer whether there might be physiological benefits in playing an interactive video game. (Begins at 13:23) And APS Past President Hannah Carey explains how physiological research can help preserve the health of the planet. (Begins at 21:13)
  • Episode 5

    Research on Heart Hormones and Cancer

    In this episode of Life Lines, we talk to David Vesely, a professor at the University of South Florida and chief of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa. He talks about his research investigating the use of heart hormones as a treatment for cancer. He has just finished trials with mice and hopes to begin human trials this year.
  • Episode 6

    The Mystery of Serotonin and Hypertension

    This episode features an interview with Michigan State University Professor Stephanie W. Watts, who has been investigating whether serotonin plays a role in high blood pressure. She received the 2008 Henry Pickering Bowditch Memorial Award for early-career achievement. It is the American Physiological Society's second-highest award.
  • Episode 7

    Nanoparticles and Disease

    Nanoparticles, 1,000 times smaller than a bacterium, are being manufactured and incorporated into some commercial products such as cosmetics and clothing. While nanotechnology holds promise, there is little understanding of how these super small particles might affect us if they get inside our bodies. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine discuss their research into the role the particles might play in disease.
  • Episode 8

    World War II Aviation Physiology

    Jay B. Dean, a professor at the University of South Florida, discusses the aviation research that physiologists did during World War II. This research helped the Allies win the air war.
  • Episode 9

    Physiology of Marine Animals

    In the first segment Barbara Block of Stanford University talks about her research with the bluefin tuna, one of the few fish species to have a warm body. You can see how marine animals are being tracked by going to www.topp.org. In the second segment we interview researcher Andreas Fahlman who explains the physiology that allows mammals such as sea lions to dive so much deeper and for such a long time, compared to humans.
  • Episode 10

    Hydrogen Sulfide - What a Gas

    In episode ten we talk to University of Alabama – Birmingham researchers about the amazing properties of hydrogen sulfide gas. Although it’s lethal in even minute quantities, our bodies produce it and use it to good effect. (Begins at 01:15.)
  • Episode 11

    Athletic Performance and Caffeine

    Taking caffeine and carbohydrates together following exercise refuels the muscles more rapidly, according to a study conducted by researcher John Hawley with whom we speak in segment one. Segment two (Begins at 12:55) focuses on the discovery of how sugar is absorbed into the small intestine which led to oral rehydration therapy and the development of rehydrating sports drinks such as Gatorade. We talk to the man who made that discovery: Stanley Schultz.
  • Episode 12

    The Brain and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

    Episode 12 takes a quick look at studies from APS journals that have been in the news. The Accidental Mind: (Begins at 04:17) How is your brain like an ice cream cone? David Linden, author of “The Accidental Mind” explains. Dr. Linden is the editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology. We also look at fetal alcohol syndrome. (Begins at 17:04) Research in sheep shows promise for understanding how maternal drinking causes cerebellar damage to the developing fetus. Timothy Cudd and Jay Ramadoss explain their study.
  • Episode 13

    Is Quercetin a Flu Fighter?

    Mice are less susceptible to the flu when they eat quercetin, a substance that occurs in fruits and vegetables. Researcher J. Mark Davis will talk about his study on stressful exercise, quercetin and the flu. (Begins at 03:55).
  • Episode 14

    Halloween Science

    Halloween is the theme for October, so we talk about sleep paralysis, a condition that has been associated with stories of demon attacks during the night. (Begins at 03:46) We also chat with researchers Alexandra Shapiro and Phillip Scarpace of the University of Florida in Gainesville about their study on fructose-induced leptin resistance and obesity. This study is a bit scary if you have a sweet tooth. (Begins at 11:40)
  • Episode 15

    Can Turkey Make You Sleepy?

    Why do we feel sleepy after a big Thanksgiving meal? Is there something in the turkey? Are cranberries good for our kidneys? These are some of the questions our experts will explore. Chris Cheesman of the University of Alberta will talk about tryptophan in turkey. (Begins at 03:17) L. Lee Hamm of Tulane University School of Medicine will discuss what the research shows about cranberries and kidney health. (Begins at 08:58)
  • Episode 16

    Circadian Rhythm & Jet Lag; Exercise and Appetite

    We start by talking about clocks, but not the type of clock that ticks away on your wall. Instead, we’ll talk about the biological clocks that tick inside us. Clifford Saper of the Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center will explain some of the research on circadian rhythm and will share his theory about the best way to deal with the disruption of the biological clock caused by jet travel. (Begins at 03:14). And, do you have a tendency to overeat during the holidays? A new study finds that exercise affects the release of two hormones that help regulate appetite. This may help explain why exercise is often, even if briefly, associated with appetite suppression.
  • Episode 17

    Environmental Cardiology

    This episode covers several areas under one topic. Accumulating evidence indicates that an increase in particulate air pollution is associated with an increase in heart attacks and deaths. In this episode, we talk to Aruni Bhatnagar of the University of Louisville and Robert Brook of the University of Michigan about research in the relatively new field of environmental cardiology. This field examines the relationship between air pollution and heart disease. (Begins at 02:58)
  • Episode 18

    Where Love Begins: In the Brain

    In our first segment we speak with Lucy Brown, a neuroscientist at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, who has studied romantic love using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Dr. Brown talks about her studies on what happens in our brains at different stages of love: falling in love, being rejected by a lover, and long-term love.
  • Episode 19

    The Genetics of Exercise

    Have you ever had an experience like this: You and a friend start jogging together. Neither of you have been exercising much, but after a few days, your friend is easily striding along as you wheeze, gasp and hold onto your aching side. Do not feel bad about your performance; it may be your genes. Scientists have identified about 200 genes that play a role in our body’s ability to become fitter, referred to as “adaptation to exercise.” Mark Olfert of the University of California at San Diego and Claude Bouchard of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center explain. (Begins at 03:51)
  • Episode 20

    Celiac Research Update

    Celiac disease is an uncontrolled immune response to wheat gluten and similar proteins of rye and barley. In those who have celiac disease, gluten can damage the small intestine, inhibit nutritional uptake and lead to malnutrition. Because celiac disease has a genetic component, there can be a much higher prevalence of the disease within families. Dutch researchers, led by Frits Koning of the Leiden University Medical Center, published a study on an enzyme that showed promise as a treatment for celiac disease. The enzyme, prolyl endoprotease, or PEP, could quickly break down gluten in the stomach before it ever reached the small intestine, where it causes damage. Dr. Koning updates us. (Begins at 02:45)
  • Episode 21

    Blood Pressure and the Brain

    In this episode, we talk to Francois Abboud of the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa, whose research identified a new sensor. We’ll talk to him about his new research looking at genes that regulate ion channels, microscopic gates that move chemicals in and out of cells and that play a role in the signaling between the brain and the blood vessels. In experiments with animals, Dr. Abboud and his colleagues deleted one specific ion channel and found that the animals developed high blood pressure.
  • Episode 22

    Laughter: Good Medicine?

    There is nothing like a good laugh, is there? It not only feels great to laugh, it can feel great to hear other people laugh. Beyond brightening the mood, can laughter provide tangible health benefits? Lee Berk of Loma Linda University in California has done a series of studies on laughter and its possible physiological effects. We will talk to him about his latest study, done over the course of a year with diabetic patients. (Begins at 03:50)
  • Episode 23

    Cool Water

    Three physiologists tell us why the prescription ‘drink when you are thirsty’ is usually the best guideline for deciding when and how much to drink. Heinz Valtin of Dartmouth Medical School (retired); Mark Knepper, of the Laboratory of Kidney & Electrolyte Metabolism of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; and Samuel Cheuvront, of the Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, talk about water consumption and answer the question: ‘Must I drink 64 ounces of water each day?’ (Begins at 03:47)
  • Episode 24

    Pregnancy and Exercise

    When a pregnant woman exercises, is it good for her fetus? That is the question that researchers Linda May of the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences and Kathleen Gustafson of the University of Kansas Medical Center are trying to answer. Their work is ongoing, but it is good news, so far, for pregnant women who like to exercise. (Begins at 01:59)
  • Episode 25


    You've heard the word telecomm? In this episode, we are going to coin a new word: elecomm, shorthand for elephant communication. Caitlin O’Connell-Rodwell is a Stanford University professor and the author of The Elephant's Secret Sense, published by the University of Chicago Press. Dr. O’Connell-Rodwell discovered that elephant vocalizations travel through the ground, sometimes for great distances. Other elephants pick up these seismic communications and understand them.
  • Episode 26

    Invention and Impact of Ultrasound

    Dean Franklin developed the first instruments to measure blood flow and the changes in diameter of the pulsating heart in conscious animals. He also pioneered the use of radio waves to measure heart and blood vessel function without wiring the body to the instrument. Dusty Sarazan, a former student of Franklin's, explains how these inventions led to the noninvasive cardiovascular monitoring instruments we have today. (Note: We misspoke when we said that physiologists made an important discovery after a giraffe frightened an instrumented baboon. In fact, a leopard had frightened the baboon.)
  • Episode 27

    When the Sense of Smell Fails

    What would it be like to live without being able to detect any odors? For one thing, Thanksgiving would be much less enjoyable. In this episode, we talk to Robert Henkin of the Taste and Smell Clinic in Washington, D.C., who will tell us why people lose their sense of smell and how his research can help some people restore it. (Begins at: 02:03)
  • Episode 28

    'Tis the Season That's Hard on Your Heart

    Heart attacks peak during the winter months, and cold weather has been thought to be the primary culprit. However, cardiologist Robert Kloner of the Keck School of Medicine and Good Samaritan Hospital found that heart attack deaths peak on Christmas and New Year's in the mild climate of Los Angeles County. Could it be that the weather is not the most important factor behind the seasonal increase in heart attacks?
  • Episode 29


    From the cutting room floor, here are some of the outtakes about physiology that we thought were just too interesting not to use. In segment one, Dusty Sarazan describes one way that physiological research helped advance cardiac surgery and also how research led to the development of the modern treadmill.
  • SpecialEdition

    Special Edition: Hillary's Contribution to Physiology

    In this special episode of Life Lines, we talk to John West, a professor of medicine at the University of California, who shares his memories of the late Sir Edmund Hillary. West accompanied Hillary to Mount Everest in 1960, helping to uncover how the body acclimatizes to the extremes of altitude.