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Recent interviews and recorded lectures

Interviews about our new paper published 5th July 2021 in JACI (Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology), explaining the four recent research results indicating that hygiene and cleaning the modern home do not disrupt essential microbial exposures.

1) The Dutch radio channel BNR Nieuwsradio on July 5th.
The discussion broadcast by BNR Nieuwsradio is in Dutch apart, of course, for my answers to the questions. This program can be heard here.
2) The Naked Scientists. Interview broadcast on Radio 5 Live on Sunday 11th July.
This interview is available as a podcast and can be heard or downloaded here.
La nueva Ilustración Evolucionista / The new Evolutionary Enlightenment
In May 2020 I was interviewed by Javier Moreno who curates a remarkable website that contains interviews by a wide range of scientists and philosophers who have contributed to the progress towards an evolutionary understanding of biology, with particular emphasis on the brain.
My interview, plus dozens of illuminating contributions from others, can be accessed here. It is worth spending time browsing this unique site (in English and Spanish).
Darwinian Medicine Interview
A "Darwinian Medicine" site, organised Eirik Garnas (, hosts interviews on the evolutionary approach to health and disease. Eirik's interview with me can be accessed here. The answers I gave were intended to explain the evolutionary reasons for our dependence on microbial exposures, and then to list the aspects of modern life that are reducing these microbial exposures. I emphasised that home hygiene plays an insignificant role, and should be maintained.
A Dose of Nature Podcast
The "Dose of Nature" site, organised by Jake Robinson at the University of Sheffield, hosts podcasts about the health of humans, the health of the environment, and all of the connections in between. Jake recently interviewed me for one of these podcasts, and you can listen to it here.
James Gallagher presented three radio documentaries exploring how our second genome, the diverse array of microbes that live on and in our bodies, is driving our metabolism and health. This is a link to all three episodes.

I participated in two short sections in the second episode “The second genome__ Dirt and Development”, which can be accessed here. I recommend listening to the full episode, but anyone wanting to hear only my small contributions can do so by clicking the player below.
A short interview for BBC Scotland’s news and current affairs programme, Newsdrive, on January 14th, 2016. The whole programme may still be available at
The relevant interview starts at 1hr 50 minutes and 51 seconds.

We discussed new data suggesting that prolonged absence of fibre from the diet, especially if continued over several generations, can lead to loss of crucial bacterial species from the gut microbiota. Such severe depletion can stop transmission of these species between generations so that they become extinct.
 Sonnenburg et al. (2016) Nature 529:212-215 doi:10.1038/nature16504
This is potentially serious because these organisms are involved in regulation of metabolism and of the immune system. How do we maintain these species within our microbiota? How can we replace them if this becomes necessary?
A recent programme in the BBC’s Horizon series explored the role of the Old Friends mechanism (still sometimes misleadingly known as the Hygiene hypothesis) in the recent increases in allergic disorders. I explained throughout the programme how modern lifestyles are changing our exposure to microorganisms with which we co-evolved, including the microbiota (the symbiotic organisms that live on us and in us, particularly in our guts). I also outlined how this affects the regulation of our immune systems.

The programme illustrated these issues by studying two families, and analysing their gut microbiota.
This BBC Horizon programme is not currently available online.
A short interview for the BBC Radio 4 consumer affairs programme, "You and Yours", on Thursday 29th May, 2014. This was to discuss the event "Are we too clean", scheduled to take place at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival on Wed 4th June 2014.
The intended message of the interview was that we are not too clean. Hygiene is crucial, but lifestyle changes and modern medicine are depriving us of contact with some microorganisms that play a crucial role in setting up the regulation of the immune system.
This can be heard by clicking the player above, and can also be found on the BBC website here
A lecture delivered on November 5th, 2013, at the BHP Billiton/UCL (University College London) symposium:-
                  "Sustainable resources for sustainable cities"

My talk, entitled:-
"Can green space and biodiversity reverse the worrying increases in chronic inflammatory disorders ?"
      ................and my powerpoint presentation, can be seen here.
A recent Radio interview, transmitted on 28 May 2012, on the BBC Radio 4 program, "All in the mind"
The topic was the prospect for using vaccinations that induce immunoregulation in the prevention or treatment of depression
A recent radio interview, transmitted on 26th October 2011, on the BBC World Service program, "Health Check".
The topic was the role of helminth infections as inducers of immunoregulatory pathways

A recent radio interview, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, Tue 26 Jul 2011, 21:00, and Wed 27 Jul 2011, 16:30

The discussion includes the immunoregulatory role of organisms with which humans co-evolved.

An interview after the meeting of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) in New Orleans, 2011