Raw Talk Celebrates 100th Episode with Insulin 100

Nov 1, 2021
Anisa Nazir

The Institute of Medical Science’s (IMS) Raw Talk Podcast is marking their 100th episode milestone by celebrating another anniversary – one hundred years since the discovery of insulin by Banting and Best at the University of Toronto (U of T). Over the past century, this lifesaving and Nobel prize winning discovery established U of T as a world leader in diabetes research, and has led to significant advancements in healthcare and biomedical research. 

The episode “100 Years Later: Insulin and Beyond” explores the current landscape of diabetes research, looking at issues such as stem cell research, treatment accessibility and the global impact of the discovery of insulin. It also addresses the challenges faced by patients and the ongoing need for community education. "One of the points we're trying to emphasize is that insulin is still unaffordable for many patients around the world, which is challenging, considering how the patent was originally sold for $1," says Jesse Knight, Co-Executive Producer of Raw Talk since Season 5.

IMS alumni Richie Jeremiah and Jabir Mohamed created the graduate student run podcast in 2016 as a way to capture and learn from the diverse stories and insights of the IMS community. Since its founding the podcast has expanded its mission to now encompass promoting the research culture within the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, and broader life sciences community; and to engaging the public in medical science innovations and translational research. "We changed the format to a narrative, and instead of having one or two perspectives, we incorporated multiple. We highlight diverse voices and include not only named researchers, but also students, early-career scientists and patients," says Grace Jacobs, former Co-Executive Producer and current Show Host and Advisor.

A central aim of Raw Talk is also to humanize scientists and share their stories and struggles to advocate for science. "Science does not follow a straight path, and discoveries are never linear." shared Jacobs. "Sometimes, with every step forward, there may be two steps backwards. But these scientific processes are imperative to eliminate bias and having various perspectives can help bridge those gaps." Jacobs went on to use the example of the COVID-19 pandemic to highlight how misinformation and lack of understanding of the scientific process can be confusing and overwhelming for many people.

Noor Al Kaabi, current Co-Executive Producer, added, "It is putting the science we create into context and how it affects people, communities, society. We are making a conscious effort to incorporate equity-related topics and ensure representation."

The Black Lives Matter movement changed the narrative on equity, diversity, and inclusion. There has been a shift in how organizations, institutions and groups incorporate these changes in their mandates. "It was a pivotal moment for Raw Talk Podcast and a moment of reflection to see where we lacked in ensuring representation. It has led to a change in dynamics within the team and taking concrete actions," says Knight. The team has created new processes to ensure equity, diversity, and inclusion in selecting topics and guest speakers, has mandated anti-racism training for all its members, and has introduced an ombudsperson available to help with sensitive topics.

Raw Talk has come a long way since its first episode. Now in its 6th season, the show has over 70,000 downloads from across the world, and includes 40+ team members from departments across the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and beyond. Some of the exciting upcoming episode topics include: burnout in healthcare providers, health in prisons, and underrepresented voices in STEM. You can find the latest Raw Talk episodes here.