Listen to Our New Podcast: Contagious Conversations

The CDC Foundation today launched Contagious Conversations to share our conversations with leading health influencers who are dedicated to making the world safer and healthier for us all. The first season features three episodes, each approximately 30 minutes long:

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann;
  • Architect of the Americans with Disabilities Act Dr. Lex Frieden; and
  • Independent journalist and author Maryn McKenna. 

Why a podcast, and why now? First and foremost, it’s a chance for our audience to listen to conversations with inspiring leaders and gain new perspectives about important health topics. This podcast offers another opportunity, alongside our blog, stories and social media channels, to reach more people in different ways with relevant content. Podcasts are gaining in popularity—according to a January 2019 CBS poll, two-thirds of Americans now listen to podcasts at least once a week, including 23 percent who listen a few times per week. By comparison, a year ago, most Americans said they never listened to podcasts.

I love listening to diverse podcasts—true crime, news analysis, storytelling and more—during my daily commute to and from work. So, for me, it has been a career highlight to produce Contagious Conversations in collaboration with our entire communications team, and to listen to each of the first three episodes hosted by Senior Communications Officer Claire Stinson.

It was extremely interesting, for instance, to learn from Maryn McKenna, an independent journalist and award-winning author, who wrote a book about poultry’s effect on antibiotic resistance. I heard Dr. Lex Frieden, a 2017 Fries Prize recipient, say, “It may be difficult for me to climb steps because I use a wheelchair, but it doesn't mean that I can't get to the top of the steps if I use a ramp. It’s not my spinal cord injury that prevents me from getting to the top of those steps, it is the environment.” And I keep reflecting on the career advice Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann shared: no matter what your job or role is, “learn, learn, learn” and never be afraid to ask a colleague for help.

Those are just a few of my takeaways from Contagious Conversations. There are so many compelling insights to be gained about the value of public-private partnerships and the reason global health matters, the power of storytelling to improve our understanding of complex issues like superbugs and outbreaks, and the impact one committed champion can make on the lives of millions.

Today, after months of teamwork, we are pleased to share these insightful conversations with you.

You can download Contagious Conversations wherever you get your podcasts, and we also encourage you to visit for bonus content, including transcripts of each episode. If you like the podcast, please pass it along to your colleagues and friends, rate the show, leave a review, and tell others. And be sure to connect with us at to share your comments, questions and suggestions. Stay tuned for Season 2; it’s already in the works with plans for release in Spring 2019.

Subscribe and listen to Contagious Conversations episodes.

Lisa Splitlog
Lisa Splitlog is a senior advisor in the Office of the President and CEO for the CDC Foundation.