Translating science into policy is challenging, especially when it has to do with vaccinating pregnant women and other vulnerable populations. Our 60th podcast features Dr. Saad Omer (MBBS, PhD, MPH), vaccinologist at Emory University, who is also involved in several working groups to translate vaccine science into evidence-based policy at the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, The World Health Organization, and at the Pan American Health Organization. While Saad has a large research portfolio, he is most known for his trials to estimate efficacy and immunogenicity of maternal and/or infant influenza, pertussis, polio, measles and pneumococcal vaccines. In 2009, he was awarded the Maurice Hilleman award in vaccinology by the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases on his work on impact of maternal influenza immunization on respiratory illness in infants younger than 6 months- for whom there is no vaccine.
Science advocacy has been in the news a lot these past two years, but many are still wondering what’s the best way to make an impact. I’ve been learning over the last several podcasts that the way to improve science engagement, acceptance, funding, and policy is to include the public in science and to get them to think of science as an important part of their life. Leah Pagnozzi, Bioengineering PhD Candidate at Cornell University, is doing just this with her ‘Take A Politician To Work’ Program. Leah gives politicians first hand experiences of how science is done, how cool science is, and how many different kinds of science there are by organizing lab tours to politicians. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink — Leah would love for this science advocacy program to be spread to other campuses or institutions; get in touch with us at email@example.com if you’d like to be connected.
Don’t miss out on any of the exciting things Nina and the PHU team are up to by subscribing to our newsletter. In the next few months, Nina will be traveling to Germany, Argentina, Australia, possibly Japan, as well as Atlanta, Boston, NYC, and Austin. These are work trips, but we’ll be packing in as many podcasts and selfies as possible. Don’t miss out on a moment of the fun! We’ll also be including a weekly to monthly round up of new articles and posts on science communication and public engagement on science.
How does Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) help speed up equitable access to life saving vaccines like rotavirus or HPV vaccines? Mary Carol Jennings, MD, on top of being drawn to community medicine, has always felt a calling for advocacy and bringing positive change to her surroundings. Even through her rigorous medical training, she made time for helping others at all stages of her career. At IVAC, Mary Carol is lead on two projects: RAVIN, an accelerator project for equitable vaccine access to rotavirus vaccine, and developing a new project on HPV vaccine access and advocacy.
Six years ago, I was dating someone living in London. While he was at work, I would troll around London by myself and was pulled many times back to London’s Natural History Museum (NMH), in particular to The Darwin Center and their very interactive exhibit. The NHM is much more than a museum: it is home to over 300 scientists who are publishing 700+ publications a year on the solar system, earth’s geology and life, biodiversity, and sustainability. It also houses over 80 million specimens that span 4.5 billion years! Out latest podcast features John Jackson, Head of Science Communication and Policy at NHM. In the 1990’s, NHM changed the way they approached the museum’s exhibitions. Traditionally, scientists would take something that they were working on behind closed doors, put it in a display case and then go back to the lab. The major goal has now shifted to include the public in the process of science and to shape both research and exhibits with public engagement in mind. I’m still thinking about The Darwin Center five years later, so definitely a model worth learning about.
I’m in London for work! And I snuck in three podcasts in my favorite neighborhood of museums in Kensington. First of three was at the British Science Association with Chief Executive Katherine Mathieson. Too often the public feels very distant from science and the scientific process; the BSA is changing that by changing people’s perceptions of science and making it into a fun, cultural process. They have many public engagement programs on, and one of my favorites is the British Science Festival. Listen to find out more!
Who’s doing a great job of collecting health data and translating it into engaging public health multimedia? For many in global health, the clear leader is the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Indeed, on my first day at work at IVAC, everyone was throwing around the IHME acronym around like it was PBnJ and definitely a lol moment if you didn’t know what it stood for. I quickly found out why and had to speak to someone in the center of creation and engagement. Our latest podcast features Bill Heisel, Director of Global Engagement at IHME (which is much, much bigger that I had originally thought) and a must know for all public health lovers.
This week, Nina is joined by International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health) Advocacy and Communications Specialist Swati Sudarsan as they interview Kate O’Brien, Executive Director of the International Vaccine Access Center. Did you know vaccines can address social justice? In this episode, Kate explains that the children around the world who have the least access to vaccines suffer the most from vaccine preventable diseases – but she aims to change that. First on her list is an evaluation of the full benefits of vaccines, in an analysis she calls the “full public health value of vaccines.” She explains that vaccines not only prevent disease in an immunized child, but it can protect the people around them, can help families avert the costs of hospitalization from disease, and can even reduce an emerging crisis – antibiotic resistance.
Kate is a sitting member of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE), which advises the World Health Organization on global vaccine policy, and serves on the Gavi Board representing the Technical and Research constituency. She is a senior advisor at the Center for American Indian Health, and of course, a beloved professor in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
We had a transatlantic, bi-coastal three way Skype podcast last month with researchers Drs. Heidi Larson and Pauline Paterson who co-direct the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Heidi and Pauline are globally respected and known for this unique, extensive, and broad research into understanding how we can boost the global community’s confidence in vaccines. A large piece of their work is profiling conversations from around the world and to pinpoint factors that lead to confidence or not. The other side of this coin is the term ‘vaccine hesitancy’ that describes why people do not feel confident in vaccines (a person can still vaccinate their child, but still be vaccine hesitant).
Please note: Most of this podcast has good audio quality, however, due to the Skype connection, had a few moments here and there of poor connectivity. The PHU wizards did their best to provide the best quality, please be patient as we continue to improve our Skype recording process.
We are pleased to let you know that the PHU podcast will be starting up again next week! I will be discussing vaccine hesitancy with Drs. Heidi Larson and Pauline Paterson who co-direct the Vaccine Confidence Project via London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (among many other cool things!).
It’s been a long time since the last podcast, but with good reason: on September 1st, I successfully defended my doctoral thesis in molecular microbiology & immunology. I also have completed two manuscripts for publication over the summer. Other great things I was up to:
Got a job! Starting soon: associate at the International Vaccine Access Center on the Policy, Advocacy, and Communications Team! Learn more about IVAC on this podcast with my new boss Lois. Or listen to Bill “heartthrob” Moss here and here.
Fellow, New York Academy of Sciences Science Alliance Leadership Training – July 2017. Five days of leadership training at the Academy. Met so many great people and learned so much about myself, how I function in group settings, and things to work on to become a better leader (and group member).
Oral presentation, American Society for Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators – gave a ‘microbrew’ talk on my scicomm course. Fantastic conference in Denver, Colorado with fellow educators interested in improving science teaching methodologies. I can’t wait for next year already! July 26-August 1.
Completed Teaching As Research Fellowship: June 2017. Completed this yearlong fellowship that provided training and resources to research the effectiveness of my teaching methods in my course, “Communicating Science.” Presented on June 30 at Johns Hopkins University.
Awarded Gordis Teaching Fellowship: Johns Hopkins School of Public Health teaching fellowship to design and teach a course to public health studies undergraduates at Johns Hopkins. Taught self-designed course “Communicating Science: Skills to Analyze and Communicate Science News”. Awarded for three semesters: Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017.
Instructor, Introduction to Biomedical Sciences, August 2017. Taught three classes as part of Dr. Gundula Bosch’s intensive summer course for incoming JHSPH graduate students. Sessions taught: Science Communication, Molecular Biology, Musculoskeletal System, Cardiovascular System. This was my fourth year co-teaching this course and always meet so many fantastic new students.
Invited speaker, Mississippi State University, September 2017. The anti-vaccine movement.
Completed Johns Hopkins Teaching Academy “Preparing Future Faculty” Certificate Program, Johns Hopkins University, September 2017. This certificate program provides training in teaching methods for Hopkins graduate students and postdocs. Check out here.