Contagious Conversations features compelling interviews with experts who are tackling some of the world’s toughest health challenges. Subscribe now to always get the latest episode each month!




Latest Episode:


A Look Back at 2023's Most Contagious Conversations


47. A Look Back at 2023's Most Contagious Conversations

(December 2023)


This month, host Claire Stinson welcomes you to a special year-end episode of Contagious Conversations focused on highlights from the 2023 season!


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Previous Episodes


Hypertension: Handling the Pressure


46. Hypertension: Handling the Pressure

(November 2023)

"The time has never been better to make this issue a priority."

It's a silent public health threat affecting over half of all U.S. adults. How can we best manage high blood pressure and make hypertension control a national priority?


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Contagious Conversations episode 45


45. Reducing Stress in Schools

(October 2023)

Lessons in self-care

Each year, fall means heading back to school for the nation’s students. But as students, teachers and school staff return again this year, the social, academic and mental health impacts of the pandemic are still being felt.


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A Conversation with Dr. Mandy Cohen | Contagious Conversations


44. A Conversation with CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen

(September 2023)

New leadership at CDC

We're bringing you a special episode this month, as our President and CEO Dr. Judy Monroe sits down for a conversation with Dr. Mandy Cohen, the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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Contagious Conversations Episode 43


43. The Eye of the Storm

(August 2023)

Bacteria spread through a common consumer product

In 2022, a mysterious outbreak of a deadly drug-resistant bacteria began spreading across several U.S. states. A CDC investigation would eventually reveal an unusual culprit: common eye drops.


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Contagious Conversations Episode 42: Serving Those Who Served


42. Serving Those Who Served

(July 2023)

A community-based approach to veteran suicide prevention

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death for Americans overall. And sadly, our nation’s veterans face even higher rates of suicide. In this month's episode, we discuss the crisis of veteran suicide and the community-based preventative approaches being taken today.


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Contagious Conversations Episode 41 | Prevention vs. Prescription: The Question About Opioids


41. Prevention vs. Prescription: The Question About Opioids

(June 2023)

Striking the right balance in the treatment of pain

Physicians face many challenges in treating people living with pain, especially in light of the U.S. opioid overdose epidemic. In today's episode, we speak with Dr. Chris Jones on how physicians are handling these challenges, and the steps CDC is taking at a community level to help address the issue.


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Contagious Conversations Episode 40: Tomorrow's Public Health Professionals


40. Tomorrow's Public Health Professionals

(May 2023)

The students that are bringing new innovations to the field of public health

The next generation of public health workers will be charged with leading through the challenges that lie ahead. In this episode, we speak with two public health students who are preparing to meet the public health challenges of tomorrow.


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Episode 39. Improving Black Women's Health


39. Improving Black Women's Health

(April 2023)

Health equity and National Minority Health Month

April is National Minority Health Month, and this episode we're sitting down with Dr. Melody McCloud to discuss the health threats faced by minority women—Black women in particular—as well as the vital role of equity in public health.


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38. A Respiratory Triple Threat


38. A Respiratory Triple Threat

(March 2023)

Lessons learned from the tridemic

You've probably heard a lot recently about the so-called "tridemic" or "tripledemic." This concurrent impact of COVID-19, influenza and RSV introduced major challenges to our public health system...but taught major lessons, too.


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Ep. 37: Nine Lessons for the Next Generation


37. Nine Lessons for the Next Generation

(February 2023)

Staying ahead of future health threats

What lessons can we learn from victories like the eradication of smallpox? How can we expand those lessons to the fight against non-infectious diseases? And how can each of us become a better ancestor to the generations to come?


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Creatively Combating Antimicrobial Resistance Pending


36. Creatively Combating Antimicrobial Resistance

(January 2023)

Using the arts to convey vital health information

How can creative messaging and the arts help people better understand issues around antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance? Our guests discuss the power of art to promote public health and protective behaviors, as well as the power of patient advocacy in raising awareness about these issues.


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Contagious Conversations | Episode 35: A Prescription of Nutrition


35. A Prescription for Nutrition

(December 2022)

Addressing nutrition insecurity and its impact on overall health

Dr. Judy Monroe, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation, is your special host for today’s episode, as we discuss nutrition, medicine and public health with Dr. Thea James and Dr. Elizabeth Petelin... starting with a mystery clinical case that at first seems straight out of the 18th century. 


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Episode 34: Young Leaders Take Action on Climate and Health


34. Young Leaders Take Action on Climate and Health

(November 2022)

Preparing for the health impacts of climate change today

In this episode, we discuss the gaps that exist in today’s healthcare systems around climate change and health, and what young people in particular are doing to bridge those gaps.


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Episode 33: What to Know About Monkeypox


33. What to Know About Monkeypox

(October 2022)

What exactly is it and what's being done?

This month, we’re talking monkeypox: what it is, what CDC is doing to tackle the outbreak and what challenges face future disease responses. Our guest expert is Jennifer McQuiston, DVM, the deputy director of the Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology within CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.


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International Podcast Day Special Episode


Special Episode: International Podcast Day

(September 30, 2022)

Celebrating the year in public health podcasts

We're releasing a bonus episode that takes a look back at some of our most memorable Contagious Conversations episodes from 2022! Whether you're new to our podcast and curious what we're all about, or a long-time listener interested in a quick recap of the year, tune in for a retrospective on some of the fascinating discussions on public health we've been having lately.


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Healthier employees help create healthier communities.


32. Making Public Health Protection Our Business

(September 2022)

Lessons for employers from the COVID-19 pandemic

This episode we sit down with Stephen Massey of Meteorite to discuss the critical role businesses play in keeping their employees and communities safe during a public health crisis. Plus, learn about the Health Action Alliance, a partnership that has helped nearly 4,000 employers do just that.


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Episode 31: Making Scents of COVID


31. Making Scents of COVID

(August 2022)

How man's best friend is changing the disease-detection game

Learn about the COVID-19 Detection Dog program—a collaboration between the Association of Public Health Laboratories, California Department of Public Health (CADoH) and Early Alert Canines (EAC)—which are introducing a new, less invasive and more fun method of testing to schools across the state. Dr. Carol Glaser of the CADoH and Carol Edwards of EAC tell the story.


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Contagious Conversations | Episode 30: Doers and Thinkers


30. Doers and Thinkers: Three Experts Weigh In

(July 2022)

Discussions on public health from the Aspen Ideas Festival

For our milestone 30th episode, we're bringing you three discussions in one! Host Claire Stinson introduces a collection of speakers from this year’s Aspen Ideas Health Festival, an annual event that brings together innovative thinkers and doers to address the world's biggest health challenges. Listen as the CDC Foundation's own Dr. Judy Monroe and Pierce Nelson talk climate change with Dr. Patrick Breysee, wastewater surveillance with Dr. Marlene Wolfe, and restoring trust to public health with Dr. Karen DeSalvo.


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Contagious Conversations Episode 29


29. Homelessness and Health: Locally, Regionally, Nationally

(June 2022)

Harnessing the momentum of change to protect people experiencing homelessness

In this episode, we discuss the link between people experiencing homelessness and public health and what CDC is doing to address this issue. CDC's Dr. Emily Mosites details the unique health challenges for those living with homelessness and discusses state and local solutions to this national issue.


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Episode 28: Turning Urgency to Action


28. Turning Urgency to Action

(May 2022)

A conversation on climate change and health

How does climate change affect health? What are some successful approaches from public health's past that we can use to tackle this challenge today? And most importantly: how can we all work together to combat this growing crisis? Dr. Judy Monroe, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation, discusses these questions and more.


(view full transcript)





Contagious Conversations Episode 27: Relationships Matter


27. Relationships Matter

(April 2022)

Building trust to improve health

“We can’t do the work alone. That is why it is important to have partnerships in our communities.”

Hear Dr. Mysheika Roberts discuss this idea and more, as she takes listeners through her own journey in community-centered public health. Plus: how critical relationships helped build trust and shape responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in Columbus, Ohio.


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Contagious Conversations Episode 26


26. Policies and Laws for the Health of All

(March 2022)

How public health law can facilitate systemic change

What exactly is public health law? Drawing from disciplines like epidemiology, public policy and evaluation, it's a field that we may not often think about in our day-to-day lives. But it has a profound impact on our lifetime trajectory. Sarah de Guia, JD, talks about law, policy and equity as they relate to public health in this episode of Contagious Conversations.


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Contagious Conversations: special edition episode


Special Episode: Building Back Public Health

(February 2022)

Two podcasts join forces

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein and Dr. Judy Monroe discuss the importance of state public health and the future of public health in our nation in this special episode, released in partnership with Public Health on Call, a podcast from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


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Contagious Conversations episode 25


25. You Can't Fix What You Can't Count

(February 2022)

Why data is the currency of public health

Building a better infrastructure can improve the public health landscape. But how do we get there? Daniel Jernigan, MD, MPH, talks all things data modernization in this episode.


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Contagious Conversations—Episode 24


24. The Modernization of the Public Health System

(January 2022)

"We all have to be hopeful in the field of public health."

In this episode of Contagious Conversations, Dr. Anand Parekh breaks down the critical population health and policy issues facing the United States now—plus what's needed in a public health workforce of the future.


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Contagious Conversations episode 23


23. The Science of a Rumor

(December 2021)

Understanding the ecosystem of vaccine misinformation

Heidi Larson, PhD—professor of anthropology, risk and decision science and the founding director of the Vaccine Confidence Project—discusses the spread of vaccine rumors, how these rumors impact confidence in science, and how we can help put a stop to them.


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Helping Our Kids Through COVID cover image

22. Helping Our Kids Through COVID

(November 2021)

Prioritizing healthy minds for children and parents

Anna King and Elizabeth Rorick of the National PTA discuss the impact of COVID-19 on schools, children and parents—especially when it comes to mental health—and their advice for nurturing healthy minds.


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Episode 21: Vaccine Hesitancy

21. Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy

(October 2021)

The first step is deep listening

CDC Foundation President and CEO Dr. Judy Monroe hosts Dr. Atul Nakhasi and Dr. Elizabeth Homan Sandoval, frontline doctors working on the COVID-19 response, in a discussion about how vaccine hesitancy continues to be a challenge in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and the power of spreading culturally competent information using trusted voices in our communities.


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Dr. Walensky speaks to the press after visiting the Hynes Convention Center FEMA Mass Vaccination Site

20. A Pivotal Time for Public Health

(April 2021)

“I have a vision and I have hope.”

Welcome to a special episode of Contagious Conversations, in which the CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky joins CDC Foundation President and CEO Dr. Judy Monroe to discuss the agency’s latest work to combat COVID-19 and how public health professionals can help prepare communities for a new normal.


(view full transcript)




19. A Fighter for Patient Safety

(January 2021)

From personal tragedy to lifesaving crusade

When Dr. Evelyn McKnight was battling breast cancer in 2002, the last thing on her mind was hepatitis C. So when she and her husband Thomas learned she had contracted the virus from unsafe injection practices during her treatment, they were shocked. Now she’s sharing the story of how she turned this tragic event into an ongoing campaign for patient safety.


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18. Thriving and Resilient Communities

(January 2021)

Towards a North Star of what’s possible in public health

After a career in pediatrics and both public and private health leadership, Dr. Lauren Smith is now stepping into the new position of chief health equity and strategy officer at the CDC Foundation. In this episode, she discusses the perspectives on health equity, systemic racism and community resiliency that she’s bringing to the role.


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17. A Nobel Prize-Winning Career

(January 2021)

The off-the-beaten-path journey to finding hepatitis C

Meet the man whose discovery has made it possible to save millions of lives. In this episode, Dr. Harvey Alter shares the story of his 50-plus year career and how his research led to the discovery of the hepatitis C virus.


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16. Raising Your Voice

(July 2020)

Tradition and collaboration in tribal communities

Chief Lynn Malerba has served as a registered nurse, as director of Cardiology and Pulmonary Services at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, as chairwoman of the Tribal Council and now as the first female Chief of the Mohegan Tribe. And she’s now drawing on this full history as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps disproportionately through the Native American population.


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15. A Crash Course in Contact Tracing

(July 2020)

Crisis management, contact tracers and COVID-19

How much do you really know about contact tracing? And would you have what it takes to be a successful contact tracer? Dr. Joshua Sharfstein of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health takes listeners through the essential ins and outs of contact tracing during a public health crisis like COVID-19.


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14. This Is an All-Hands-on-Deck Moment

(July 2020)

“The pandemic has opened the eyes and minds of many folks.”

Daniel E. Dawes is the director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine, an institute laser-focused on advancement of health equity. Now Dawes sits down to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color and marginalized populations, and the importance of understanding political determinants of health in the context of American history.


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13. Redefining the Acceptable

(February 2020)

Why the best time to study public health is now

What does our nation need from the next generation of the public health workforce? Emory University’s Dr. Jim Curran discusses the demands ahead and how our universities, associations and employers are preparing people to meet them. Dr. Curran also discusses his work at CDC during the very early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, how far the world has come since that challenging time, and the road to eliminating the disease entirely.


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12. Public Health's a Team Activity

(February 2020)

“APHA is the history of public health in the United States.”

As executive director of the American Public Health Association, Dr. Georges Benjamin knows how important it is that everyone can see themselves under the “big tent” of public health. Find out how he and the APHA’s diverse membership drive impact by staying focused on three bedrock priorities.


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11. Humanitarian Aid Beyond Borders

(February 2020)

Creating a safe space for patients in conflict zones

Obstetrician-gynecologist and physician Dr. Rasha Khoury shares her experiences with Doctors Without Borders: a international humanitarian organization that provides medical aid where the need is greatest, and the recipient of the CDC Foundation’s Fries Prize for Improving Health.


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10. The Answer Is on the Playground

(September 2019)

West Africa, five years after the Ebola epidemic

Dr. Judy Monroe, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation, shares stories from her recent trip to West Africa: a personal conversation on the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak, global health security, vaccination and more.


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9. Celebrating the Invisible

(September 2019)

A modern history of public health

Dr. Michael McGinnis looks back on his storied career to discuss how the focus of public health has evolved from treatment to prevention, what the actual root causes of death in America are, how those leading causes are changing... oh, and that one time his team had to commandeer an elephant.


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8. An Advocate for Flint

(September 2019)

A city’s collective fight for environmental justice

Pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha shares how she became an advocate for the people of Flint, Michigan, during the water crisis, and discusses the community-centered work that is creating a better future for families and children in Flint today.


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7. The Frontlines of Public Service

(September 2019)

Talking data, disease and the human condition

Dr. Robert Redfield shares his thoughts on how we can eliminate HIV in the United States by 2030, why opioid disorder is the public health crisis of our time, and what it's like to work with a team that puts science and data into action in the name of public service.


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6. Ending Polio for Good

(May 2019)

On the final frontlines of a historic effort

Now that Rotary International has helped immunize more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries, polio remains endemic only in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Carol Pandak discusses her work with the organization to end the disease once and for all...and what challenges still remain.


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5. The State of Health

(May 2019)

Fighting for healthier communities in Louisiana

Dr. Rebekah Gee shares her journey to becoming the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and how she is working to fight major health challenges, such as Hepatitis C in Louisiana, and discusses the complexities of bringing together partners to work on a myriad of issues from pregnancy to poverty.


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Rich Test

4. How to (Truly) Save the World

(May 2019)

Building a Culture of Health and Social Justice

Dr. Richard Besser, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, discusses his Foundation’s efforts to build a culture of health in America, why that effort requires a national shift in mindset, and why he still believes that working in public health is really about working to change the world.


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3. All Lives Have Equal Value

(March 2019)

Reducing disease and inequality across the globe

Physician, scientist and philanthropist Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, shares her unique career path, describes her vision for a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life and offers career advice for aspiring leaders and innovators.


(view full transcript)




Dr. Lex Frieden, 2017 Fries Prize for Improving Health Recipient

2. Inclusivity and the ADA

(March 2019)

Transforming the lives of Americans living with disabilities

Dr. Lex Frieden, disability rights activist and architect of the Americans with Disabilities Act, shares his personal story and his passion for independent living by people with disabilities.


(view full transcript)




1. Outbreaks and Superbugs

(March 2019)

Journalism and storytelling on the frontlines

Acclaimed journalist Maryn McKenna talks to the CDC Foundation’s Claire Stinson about what it’s like to report on the frontlines of emergency responses, the impact of antibiotics on the food we eat, and what actions we can all take on behalf of the world’s health and safety. Also: chickens.


(view full transcript)