Episode 30 – “Cancer Epidemiology” by Pranoti Pradhan

Runner-Up; Graduate & Professional: “Excellence in Podcasting” Competition

Sponsored by the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities in collaboration with the Center for Teaching and the Office of Immersion Resources.

What do nuns, chimney sweeps, and tobacco smokers have in common? Well, you’ll just have to listen to unravel the answer to this riddle. In this episode of VandyVox, Pranoti Pradhan explores how cancer epidemiology sprung to life and directs our attention towards the future of the field regarding health disparities. She was awarded runner-up in the graduate and professional students category for the Excellence in Podcasting competition. The featured audio is a component of the larger podcast “Going Viral,” Season 2 Episode 5 “Cancer Epidemiology”

“Going Viral” is a podcast with a mission for listeners to “understand the basics of epidemiology – health for the population,” co-created by Pranoti Pradhan, a Ph.D. student in Epidemiology at Vanderbilt University, and Saimrunali Dadigala, a Master of Biomedical Sciences student at Tufts University. Together, the pair communicate scientific information surrounding the basics of epidemiology and interview experts and field specialists to discuss epidemiological relevance to modern society.

To build a common knowledge base between herself and the listener, Pranoti approaches the historical lens of cancer epidemiology as a chronological tale of creation. Storytelling in this manner plops the budding science into contextual relevance, creating a cast of characters to capture the audience’s attention. From this vantage point, listeners are exposed to the scientific method in action as Pranoti strings together a series of observations and highlights how they shaped a novel medical field. More than just stories, these tales operate as case studies, an effective teaching tool to relate conceptual ideas to real-world situations.

As Pranoti shifts from past to present and the field of cancer epidemiology broadens, she continues to provide corporeal evidence to help listeners latch on to otherwise abstract considerations of health disparities. Applying a compare-and-contrast analysis when discussing the ways epidemiological factors diverge between different types of cancer, she provides supporting examples that highlight differences in health disparities. For instance, Pranoti asserts that certain types of risk are controllable, compared to those that are generally unavoidable, such as those influenced by genetic inheritance, socioeconomic status, disabilities, or race and ethnicity factors.

Her approach touches on Bloom’s taxonomy, a framework that categorizes and hierarchically assembles sets of learning objectives in a pyramid shape. As one works up the pyramid, the level of retention and complexity increases as well. By the close of her audio, Pranoti has climbed into the “analyze” category, organizing, comparing, contrasting, and differentiating modern cancer epidemiology. An image of Bloom’s Taxonomy by the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching is displayed for ease, while further guidance on the framework can be found amongst the additional resources below.

Bloom’s Taxonomy by the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching

In addition to the educational tools Pranoti utilized, her podcast also stands out through the application of supplementary audio. From bookend to bookend, this audio is peppered with attention-grabbing pops; Pranoti’s intro highlights the previous podcast, enticing the audience from the very beginning, her outro is formatted as a teaser, hinting at upcoming content in future audio to draw them back, and her chronological look through history is augmented via musical transitions that make time travel almost tangible.


New episodes of “Going Viral” by Pranoti Pradhan and Saimrunali Dadigala are available every Monday at 8 AM EST. Listen now:

“Going Viral” Website: 

  • https://goingviralepidemiology.libsyn.com/website

Apple Podcasts:

  • https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/going-viral/id1520085421

Google Podcasts:

  • https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9nb2luZ3ZpcmFsZXBpZGVtaW9sb2d5LmxpYnN5bi5jb20vcnNz?sa=X&ved=0CBEQlvsGahcKEwiA2rvhhfDzAhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQHA&hl=en


Incorporating key components of scientific research and teaching/learning frameworks can boost your audience’s knowledge retention. Explore the tools Pranoti employed:

Khan Academy’s “The scientific method”

  • https://www.khanacademy.org/science/biology/intro-to-biology/science-of-biology/a/the-science-of-biology

Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching guide to “Bloom’s Taxonomy” by Patricia Armstrong

  • https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/

Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching guide to “Case Studies”

  • https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/case-studies/


Giving your science a setting and cast of characters like Pranoti can increase listener retention and comprehension. This Forbes article outlines the key components to achieve effective podcast storytelling.

“The Power of Podcasting For Telling A Story” by Carrie Kerpen

  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/carriekerpen/2020/03/11/the-power-of-podcasting-for-telling-a-story/?sh=1654323c2fb4


Pranoti’s closing teaser entices the audience to keep listening. Add sounds and edit audio for free using Audacity, then publish for free on Anchor:

Audacity, a “free, open source, cross-platform audio software”

  • https://www.audacityteam.org/

Anchor, a “free, beginner-friendly platform for podcast creation,”

  • https://anchor.fm/


More information on the history of events that steered the field of cancer epidemiology Pranoti described can be found below:

“History of Cancer Epidemiology: 18th Century to Present” by The American Cancer Society

  • https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-basics/history-of-cancer/cancer-epidemiology.html

“Cancer: A History Perspective” by The National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute



Written by Kaelyn Warne, Teaching Affiliate at the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching