The Health Variant

A weekly dive into health and healthcare from NewsMD, offering interesting interviews, quick looks at new research and reporting from behind the scenes.

Hosted By
Jeremy Fugleberg-mug1.jpg
Jeremy Fugleberg
Latest Episodes
Omicron, Natural Immunity and Global Conspiracy
Wed Jan 05 15:35:54 EST 2022
In the latest episode of "The Health Variant" podcast, host and NewsMD Health Correspondent Jeremy Fugleberg talks with immunologist Dr. Marc K. Jenkins at the University of Minnesota. Jenkins discusses what we know and don't know about the omicron variant, explains about why it's not so easy to know if you have the natural immunity you need to fight off COVID-19 (but could in the foreseeable future), and details what happened to the hopes for herd immunity. 
Why Travel Nurses Matter (and Make Good Money)
Mon Nov 01 16:51:16 EDT 2021
They are health care's freelancers, reinforcements who have been crucial to helping short-handed nursing staffs during the COVID-19 pandemic. And you probably haven't even heard of them. In this episode, host and NewsMD Health Correspondent Jeremy Fugleberg talks with Professor Joshua Gottlieb, a nursing markets researcher at the University of Chicago, to get some answers about why traveling nurses are so important, and why they can get paid top dollar for what they do.

Why don't people trust perfectly good health advice?
Mon Oct 18 06:00:00 EDT 2021
No, this isn't a rant of a podcast. But it is a dig into recent research on a powerful factor that can shape how much you trust what should be uncontroversial health advice provided by a state health department, for example. Yes, this is really relevant during a politicized pandemic. Our host, NewsMD Health Correspondent Jeremy Fugleberg, speaks with lead researcher Dr. Rebekah Nagler, of the University of Minnesota, to break it all down. 

The American Heart Association Called...
Tue Oct 05 18:28:12 EDT 2021
We get a lot of press releases and story pitches, but it's not often the American Heart Association essentially calls and says, "Hey, we're worried about you, let's talk." So we took them up on their offer. They were looking at some troubling statistics in the Dakotas, especially North Dakota. AHA President Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones joins the podcast to give us a little check-up, and some encouragement about a little something you might have heard about. 

What Makes Football Safer for Young Heads?
Tue Aug 31 12:01:29 EDT 2021
Groundbreaking research from Sanford Research provides big insight into what could make youth football more safe, at least in terms of head impacts. Host and NewsMD Health Correspondent Jeremy Fugleberg talks with Dr. Thayne Munce of Sanford Research about the results of his newly published study of a junior football team, and the big insights gained from tracking years of head hits. Read about the research here

How Did the Delta Variant Change the Game?
Mon Aug 23 12:08:33 EDT 2021
COVID-19's delta variant has wrecked the idea of getting back to normal. How did that happen, and what does it mean for everything from masking to potentially getting regular COVID booster shots? NewsMD Correspondent Jeremy Fugleberg talks to Dr. Louis Mansky, director of the University of Minnesota Institute for Molecular Biology, about this no good, very bad variant.

Inside the Blood Shortage
Mon Aug 09 14:08:39 EDT 2021
Blood banks are desperate for donations right now, and it's a national problem. Host and NewsMD Correspondent Jeremy Fugleberg talks with Dr. Maria Beaver, of Essentia Health, about why this shortage is so bad, why donations are so critically needed right now, and hot tips on how to overcome that fear of needles. To find your local blood bank or donation site, go to:

How Jayne Jones Became The 'No Sugar Baker'
Mon Jul 26 16:38:22 EDT 2021
Jayne Jones grew up in Minnesota loving hotdishes and desserts. Until she found out those things were killing her. Here's what she did next, and how she's rocketing to newfound food fame as the "No Sugar Baker." She's online at and on Facebook, at "No Sugar Baker."

Heat, You, and Planetary Health
Mon Jul 19 16:51:08 EDT 2021
We’ve all seen the headlines about the recent heat wave that hammered the Pacific Northwest. But the Midwest is increasingly no stranger to skyrocketing temps -- causing both drought and life-threatening heat conditions. In this episode, host Jeremy Fugleberg will talk to Dr. Teddie Potter of the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, where she’s the first-ever director of planetary health. You better believe he’ll ask what that means. A hint: It makes her an expert on this topic.

Great Midwest Baby Boom
Mon Jul 12 14:55:08 EDT 2021
A funny thing has been happening in the Upper Midwest. While the national birth rate continues to fall, the region has been going the other direction. That's according to Sanford Health, the South Dakota-based health system that also serves North Dakota and Minnesota. It's probably too early to call it a baby boom. But Dr. Laurie Landeen of Sanford Health has some ideas for what's going on. And yes, that includes "Fertile Myrtles" (her words).