Tag Archives: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Heroes for scientific knowledge

By Benjamin Caballero MS, PhD Candidate, Department of Developmental and Molecular Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

caballeroAlthough science is perceived to have a fundamental role in addressing major problems of modern society — from climate change to global healthcare — the persistent dwindling of its funding by government agencies is a global trend.  It seems that the betterment of humankind is in jeopardy if this trend continues. But who is responsible for this? And more importantly, how can it be changed?

During the “Research Matters Communications Workshop for Early Career Scientists” at the George Washington University (GW) on October 9 organized by Research!America, Elsevier, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory,  Society for Neuroscience and GW, this was among many questions sought to be answered. Nearly 100 scientists in different career stages felt that it was us, scientists, responsible for why science is poorly understood by general audiences, hence it is not a priority when decisions to fund it are made by elected officials.  Scientists need to understand that the work performed cannot stay in laboratories. We need to cogently communicate our research, its importance and the implications that could have in the future to a broad public. We need to engage ourselves with society, advocacy and public outreach to explain why basic research is essential for the health and economic prosperity of every man, woman and child.  This will be the first crucial step for science to become more engaged in the public agenda and away from the ivory tower. Continue reading →

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Research Matters Communications Workshop for Early-Career Scientists: October 9, 2013

Research!America’s science communications event, “Research Matters Communications Workshop: Promoting Basic Research in a New Age of Communications: Challenges and Opportunities,” was held October 9 at the Marvin Center on the campus of the George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Leo Chalupa, PhDGWU’s vice president for research, Leo Chalupa, PhD (pictured at right), opened the day with remarks that implored the nearly 100 young scientists in attendance to think about their families when they communicate.

“Act like your Aunt Harriet is in the audience,” Chalupa said; his welcoming remarks indeed laid the groundwork for the workshop, as Aunt Harriet would be referenced frequently throughout the morning.

Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley followed with an introduction of the plenary speaker; Woolley also hit on a theme that is especially relevant this week. She recalled the story of 2000 Nobel Prize winner Paul Greengard, PhD and his sister, Chris Chase. In an op-ed in The New York Times a few days after Greengard’s win, Chase lamented that she never fully understood the research her brother had undertaken. Upon winning, however, she read news accounts that explained his work as determining how brain cells communicate; this work could one day impact Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

“I’m thrilled he won,” Chase wrote, and Woolley recounted. “Now I know what he does.”

That segued into the plenary session from Christie Nicholson, a lecturer at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. Nicholson (pictured below) began the session by reminding the audience that effective communication isn’t just necessary when dealing with the public; because science has become so specialized, researchers sometimes can’t understand what their own colleagues are saying.

Christie Nicholson

Nicholson explained that it’s important to tell a story. But before you can begin to craft a story, she said it’s critical to not only understand the goal you’re trying to achieve, but also to understand your audience. And to do that, one must know what the audience knows, what the audience cares about and what motivates them. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Does Congress care if Nobel laureates of the future are put at risk?

Dear Research Advocate:

Like most Americans, we are alarmed by the ongoing government shutdown. Since the shutdown began, I have been in Georgia, Massachusetts and Ohio, speaking to business and academic leaders, state and local elected officials, philanthropic leaders, and working scientists. Everyone is outraged! Clearly, biomedical and health research — already compromised via sequestration — is not the only priority placed at risk by the impasse, but it is a critical one. From limiting access to clinical trials to undermining the ability to protect our food supply or investigate disease outbreaks, Americans are put at unnecessary risk when government employees are furloughed. We sent letters at the end of last week to Members of Congress and the president, urging action. We received responses from offices on both sides of the aisle: Many spoke passionately of their support for medical research; some hewed the party line; others lamented the budget impasse.

We are doing everything we can to keep the spotlight on the damage done to medical and health research when the government is shut down. When the public and its policy makers look back on the 2013 shutdown, we want them to remember which government functions most tellingly exemplified the cost — fiscal and societal — our nation incurs when the ability to function is derailed. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Are we entering “A Dark Age for Science in America”?

Dear Research Advocate:

The Commerce Department’s report of the U.S. trade deficit narrowing to its lowest level since October 2009 is welcome news, but the devil is in the details. Despite the economic progress, our trade deficit with China is nearly as large as our overall trade deficit. Put that together with the fact that China is rigorously investing in R&D while our nation stifles it, and you can see the handwriting on the wall. U.S. export capabilities will be stymied while China’s are bolstered. It’s not a recipe for a strong and stable economy going forward.

China is not the only nation steadily increasing investment in R&D, taking a page from what used to be the U.S. playbook. As I shared with Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic for his article today, “If federal funding continues to decline, our leadership status in the short-term will be tenuous at best.” Research!America’s polling on international competitiveness shows that Americans are acutely aware of our declining leadership status: More than half believe that a country other than the U.S. will be the global leader in science and technology by 2020. A quarter of respondents say that China will be the next world leader.

Sam Stein of The Huffington Post portrays the consequences of short-sighted budgets for science. His story’s dramatic headline — “Sequestration Ushers In A Dark Age For Science In America” — is illustrated with economic points and also stresses what may be lost in terms of scientific discovery. Claire Pomeroy, MD, president of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, reinforces the sentiment in her piece on the importance of research advocacy, also in The Huffington Post yesterday. Please join us in being sure your elected representatives receive the message carried in these articles, and then urge everyone in your networks to do the same! Continue reading →

Research Matters Communications Workshop, October 9

Promoting Basic Research in a New Age of Communications: Challenges and Opportunities

REGISTER HERE.

Scientists, journalists and policy makers. What do they all have in common? They all are trained (in very different ways) to ask the hard questions while serving the public interest. Often the lines of communications between these three professions are weak or, sometimes, non-existent. A greater understanding between them is needed to demonstrate the value and the return on investment of basic biomedical research.

On October 9, 2013, join Research!America, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Elsevier, The George Washington University and the Society for Neuroscience for a workshop designed to enhance the ability of early-career scientists to effectively communicate their research to various audiences and become stronger advocates.

Plenary session speaker:

  • Christie Nicholson, lecturer at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.

Moderators:

  • Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University
  • Debra Lappin, JD, principal, FaegreBD Consulting and Research!America Board member

Panelists:

  • Cara Altimus, PhD, executive board member, Johns Hopkins Postdoc Association
  • Nick Bath, JD, senior health policy advisor, Senate HELP Committee
  • Patrick Carroll, legislative director, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS)
  • Susan Heavey, health correspondent, Reuters
  • Patricia Knight, founder, Knight Capitol Consultants, LLC; former chief of staff, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
  • Jonathan Moreno, PhD, editor-in-chief, Science Progress blog; senior fellow, Center for American Progress
  • Nancy Shute, health and medicine reporter, NPR
  • Dan Smith, JD, principal, The Sheridan Group; founder and former president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

The program includes a plenary session by the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University; two panel discussions with leaders in science, health communications, journalism, public health and public policy; and a session with top Elsevier editors on techniques for getting published in scientific journals.

Register for half off the admission price now through Friday, September 27: $37.50 for participants affiliated with Research!America members and $75 for participants not affiliated with Research!America members. (If you’ve already registered, we will offer a partial refund.)

Registration deadline has been extended to Friday, September 27.

For more information, visit www.researchamerica.org/communicationsworkshop

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Report: NY a Successful Bioscience State, but More Work Remains

By any measure, New York is one of the country’s top states for medical research and development: In FY11, the state attracted more than $2 billion across 4,606 awards from the National Institutes of Health. Only California and Massachusetts were better in either category. With robust academic research (not to mention a significant presence of independent research institutes, like Research!America members Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Masonic Medical Research Laboratory) and NYC-based pharmaceutical giants Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer, bioscience pays off for New York and its residents: According to a new report, the industry directly and indirectly supported 250,000 jobs across the state and generated $309 million in state taxes and more than $5.63 billion in personal wages.

But that report — “Cultivating the Next Generation of Discoveries and Development in New York Bioscience,” by The Public Policy Institute of New York State — also notes that New York can do more to support the industry. And where it draws inspiration from is no surprise: California and Massachusetts.

The report cites the efforts of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative; Governor Deval Patrick (D) not only funded the initiative with $1 billion over 10 years, but also provided a five-point guidance plan. The report says New York would stand to benefit from such guidance. There’s also a comparison chart that shows how each state helps science companies from startup through maturity.

California is known for its entrepreneurial spirit, and the report states that the New York would benefit from more formally bringing together scientists and entrepreneurs.

In all, the report includes three policy and program initiatives to ensure continued success of New York’s bioscience sector:

  • Establish a “Governor’s Council” to help facilitate communication between the state and industry and to market the state’s life sciences capabilities to audiences far and wide;
  • Designate state funding specifically for bioscience companies; the report offers matching funds for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants and enacting legislation to create a Biosciences Commercialization Fund;
  • Aiding startups and young companies by increasing the amount of affordable incubator and lab space.

The report was produced in May and released earlier in the week.