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Bacteria talk to each other. Decoding their signals could spot diseases sooner

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Found in Translation

Bacteria coordinate attacks using their own chemical language. What if we could decode these messages and thwart their plans? Fatima AlZahra'a Alatraktchi invented a tool to spy on bacterial chatter.

About Fatima AlZahra'a Alatraktchi

Fatima AlZahra'a Alatraktchi holds a Ph.D. in nanotechnology and molecular biology. She is also a renowned fiction writer and the founder of PreDiagnose, where she's created next-generation diagnostics for early bacterial detection. She's an expert in developing micro- and nanosensors for the detection of cellular molecules and microorganisms. As a result of her research, Alatraktchi has received a number of prestigious awards, including the Lundbeck Foundation Talent Prize for outstanding research talents in medicine and health and the Ph.D. thesis of the year award by the Technical University of Denmark. Forbes listed her as one of the 30 most influential people under 30 in Europe within science and health in 2019.

This segment of the TED Radio Hour was produced by Laine Kaplan-Levenson and edited by Sanaz Meshkinpour. You can follow us on Facebook @TEDRadioHour and email us at TEDRadioHour@npr.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Manoush Zomorodi is the host of TED Radio Hour. She is a journalist, podcaster and media entrepreneur, and her work reflects her passion for investigating how technology and business are transforming humanity.
Laine Kaplan-Levenson
Laine Kaplan-Levenson is a producer and reporter for NPR's Throughline podcast. Before joining the Throughline team, they were the host and producer of WWNO's award-winning history podcast TriPod: New Orleans at 300, as well as WWNO/WRKF's award-winning political podcast Sticky Wicket. Before podcasting, they were a founding reporter for WWNO's Coastal Desk, and covered land loss, fisheries, water management, and all things Louisiana coast. Kaplan-Levenson has contributed to NPR, This American Life, Marketplace, Latino USA, Oxford American (print), Here and Now, The World, 70 Million, and Nancy, among other national outlets. They served as a host and producer of Last Call, a multiracial collective of queer artists and archivists, and freelanced as a storytelling and podcast consultant, workshop instructor, and facilitator of student-produced audio projects. Kaplan-Levenson is also the founder and host of the live storytelling series, Bring Your Own. They like to play music and occasionally DJ under the moniker DJ Swimteam.