A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Social media for medical and health research

Dear Research Advocate:

If you haven’t already heard, “Throwback Thursday” is a weekly social media activity that celebrates unforgettable moments in our lives. Users of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram draw inspiration from old photos of family and friends or landmark events, and talk about them, accompanied by the hashtag #TBT. Wouldn’t it be great if today’s #TBT includes reflections on the impact of medical and health research on our lives and those of our loved ones — especially today, with the mid-term elections coming right up, with so much at stake for future generations?

Consider how far we’ve come in medicine. This week marks the 100th birthday of Dr. Jonas Salk, who gifted us with a polio vaccine. An article in The Guardian detailing Dr. Salk’s determination to eradicate this debilitating condition gives us plenty to reflect upon. Most people my age lived with the threat of polio and knew people with the disease.  Another “throwback” is the conversion of HIV/AIDS from a death threat to a manageable chronic disease. In the throes of public fears about Ebola, there are echoes of AIDS. 

You probably see where I’m going with this. Drawing on research “throwbacks” is a great hook for asking your candidates how they will restore the momentum behind medical progress. Here is link to the Twitter handles of the mid-term candidates. Send them a tweet. Remind them of how far we’ve come and ask them to tweet back a comment or post one on the Ask Your Candidates! website.

On Friday, Research!America is capitalizing on another social media phenomenon, and I hope you’ll join us. I will participate in my first “Ask Me Anything” session on the Reddit science forum (referred to as a subreddit). Anyone with an account can submit a question and/or assign a priority to those already asked. Questions with the most votes will rise to the top of the forum and you can be sure I will address them! Use the forum to call out a candidate, thank a candidate who is a champion for research, continue the thread of your Throwback Thursday story, or make another point about assuring medical progress. It’s a great way to call attention to the urgency of supporting research and innovation just before the election. Questions can be posted on the site beginning at 8 a.m. EST on Friday.

After the election, in a more traditional setting, we’ll gather to discuss the implications. If you haven’t registered yet for Research!America’s Post-Election Briefing at the AAAS Auditorium in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 6, register now. Seats are going fast. We’ll be joined by CQ Roll Call senior editor, David Hawkings, a panel of former members of Congress, and a panel of Ask Your Candidates! partners.

I hope to see you there!

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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