12/3/15 Show feat. Gloria Tavera (Case Western) on Malaria, Immunology, and the Fight for Equal Access to Medicines

Malaria is a colossal global problem. In Africa, a child a minute perishes due to the parasite. It’s easy not to be aware of this in the US, where malaria hasn’t been a problem for many years – but 3.4 billion people (half the world’s population) lives in areas at risk of the disease.

untitled-thumbnailIn this episode of These Vibes Are Too Cosmic I speak with Gloria Tavera, MD/PhD student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. We discuss the general mechanics of our immune systems and malaria’s effect on it. We get in to why malaria is so difficult to treat and why so many children die from the parasite. Gloria explains the new malaria vaccine – both why it’s exciting and how it is far from a full solution (or even a full malaria vaccine), but rather an important step along the road to eradication.

In the last portion of the show we discuss another deeply important topic, and a great passion of Gloria’s: equal access to medicines worldwide. Gloria is president of the board of directors for UAEM (Universities Allied for Essential Medicines), an organization that uses a muti-tiered approach to leveling the access to affordable medications across the world, and particularly in developing countries. Gloria uses the example of insulin. In Sub-Saharan Africa people commonly die of diabetes due to the fact that insulin is rare and, when available, unaffordable. The system is stacked against them.

So, listen up, learn about our world, and get fired up!

Some extra info on malaria immunity (from Gloria Tavera):


The figures above (found here) show how an antibody, along with a set of molecules called complement, can bind a malaria parasite and keep it from invading a human red blood cell, which keeps it from surviving and reproducing.

The second figure above on that page shows how the set of molecules, called complement, bind to antibodies and make the antibodies even more effective at killing the malaria parasite and keeping it from entering human red blood cells.
More information on the fight for access to medicines (from Gloria Tavera):
UAEM creates a report card that grades universities on their access to medicines policies. We do this every other year (this one’s from 2015, then next one will be released in 2017).

Here’s a short video we made that explains what is wrong with the current reseach and development system and how we propose to fix it.

Related to that video, is a petition to the World Health Organization (WHO) that we have created. We are calling on World Health Organization member states to fund a pool of money (prize funding) for researchers to create drugs, diagnostics and vaccines that are targeted to help solve diseases of major public health importance, that will be available royalty-free.

If you’re interested in going even deeper, read the recent LA Times piece from Economist Mariana Mazzucato, on problems and solutions regarding our current, global biomedical research and development system.


Playlist for the show:

Artist Song Album Label
The Coathangers Springfield Cannonball Suck My Shirt Suicide Squeeze
Show intro
Angel Olsen Creator, Destroyer Strange Cacti Bathetic Records
Sleater Kinney Hey Darling No Cities to Love Sub Pop
Courtney Barnett Boxing Day Blues (Revisited) Blue Series Third Man
Wolf Eyes Enemy Ladder I am a problem: Mind in pieces Third Man
Gloria Tavera Malaria Immunology
Swearin’ Just Swearin’ Salinas
Candi Stanton Sweet Feeling Stand By your man Parlophone
Fugazi Waiting Room 13 Songs Dischord
Beat Happening Foggy Eyes Indian Summer 7″ Domino
Gloria Tavera Malaria Immunology
Nap Eyes No man needs to care Whine of the mystic Paradise of bachelors
Hunx & his punx You think you’re tough Street punk Hardly art
Patti Smith Smells like teen spirit – radio edit Outside society Sony
Gloria Tavera UAEM
Queens of the Stoneage

(Interviewee pick)

Mosquito song Songs for the deaf Interscope
Willy Mason

(Interviewee pick)

Oxygen Where the humans eat Virgin records

(Interviewee pick)

Trippy gum Very best of hinds so far Mom and pop


2 thoughts on “12/3/15 Show feat. Gloria Tavera (Case Western) on Malaria, Immunology, and the Fight for Equal Access to Medicines

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s