40. Turhan Canli: Studying Loneliness / Is Depression an Infectious Disease?

“A Model of Human Endogenous Retrovirus (HERV) Activation in Mental Health and Illness”:


A brief lay persons summary provided by Turhan:

RNA retroviruses can integrate their genetic material into the DNA of the infected host organism. If the infected cells are sperm or egg, the viral genetic material can be transmitted into the next generation. This has been going on since the beginning of evolution. As a result, about 8% of the human genome comes from these viral sources. In this article, I speculate about the role that such viral genetics may play in human health and disease, particularly with respect to resilience and vulnerability to depression.

Turhan Canli

Our conversation focuses on Turhan’s research into loneliness. Its negative physical health consequences, the difficulties in studying loneliness, and why his research is important to the broader society.

We also discuss a 2014 Tedx talk that Turhan conducted titled, Is Depression an Infectious Disease? With his central hypothesis being that certain types of depression could be activated by an exogenous pathogen.

Turhan Canli
Turhan Canli

Turhan is a neuroscientist and professor fo integrative neuroscience who researches the biological mechanisms that shape our personalities and idiosyncrasies.

Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash

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