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UnDisciplined: The Venomologist And The Behavioral Scientist

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking about pain, but — as usual — we're approaching it from two very different points of view. One of our guests is a researcher whose discoveries about toxic snails could help lead to painkillers. The other is a health communications expert who studies the way people communicate about pain on social media. 

Helena Safavi-Hemami is an assistant professor of biochemistry at the University of Utah who studies the way toxins in cone snail venoms can be used to develop therapeutics like painkillers and fast-acting insulin.

Jeanine Guidry is an assistant professor of public relations at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she studies the use of social media to communicate about health. 

Matthew LaPlante has reported on ritual infanticide in Northern Africa, insurgent warfare in the Middle East, the legacy of genocide in Southeast Asia, and gang violence in Central America. But a few years back, something donned on him: Maybe the news doesn't have to be brutally depressing all the time. Today, he balances his continuing work on more heartbreaking subjects by writing books about the intersection of science, human health and society, including the New York Times best-selling Lifespan with geneticist David Sinclair and the Nautilus Award-winning Longevity Plan with cardiologist John Day. His first solo book, Superlative, looks at what scientists are learning by studying organisms that have evolved in record-setting ways, and his is currently at work on another book about embracing the inevitability of human-caused climate change with an optimistic outlook on the future.