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Dr. Late Night

Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy’s COVID-19 research made consumer media stand up and take notice

If men needed another reason to mask up and get vaccinated to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Miller School urologist Ranjith Ramasamy, M.D., gave it to them in May. Dr. Ramasamy, an expert in men’s reproductive health, is used to having the results of his research appear in medical journals read mostly by other urologists. But when he published (and tweeted) his findings that traces of the coronavirus had been found in penile tissue long after the initial infection was over — possibly leading to infertility and erectile dysfunction — the news went … viral.

As might be expected, jokes about the research immediately populated the routines of late-night comedians, including Stephen Colbert, who said, “It gives new meaning to when the doctor says, ‘The hard part is over.’” Saturday Night Live made the findings part of its “Weekend Update” segment, and publications ranging from National Geographic to Rolling Stone included it in their online reporting.

Dr. Ramasamy often added his own humor when he tweeted and retweeted many of the consumer media pickups — not to make light of his findings, but because he sees one of his obligations as a physician-scientist is countering misinformation about COVID-19 with facts.

“The global attention I received has given a much-needed boost to a serious topic,” he said. “It’s great to publish our work and get it out to the scientific community, but unless it’s also out in the press for the general public, it won’t have substantial reach.”

FALL 2021