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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be connected.
Is the world prepared for the next global health threat? In our latest podcast, Dr. Tom Inglesby, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security shares with us how the Center is helping the world prepare for health threats, both natural and manmade, with evidence based policy. Originally created by D.A. Henderson, well known for his Smallpox Eradication Campaign, the Center started in the late 90’s/early 2000’s to research, create and influence evidence-based policy in face of of major health threats like anthrax, SARS, and bird flu. Nina had tons of questions about how to know if policies made by the government are evidence-based or if they are pure fear-mongering (she in particular recalls all of the questions around the Ebola quarantines in 2014 and 2015).
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.
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.
Our latest guest is also the latest faculty addition to the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Dr. Monica Mugnier (big news: Monica won an 2016 NIH Early Independence Award which allowed her to skip the tradtional postdoctoral fellowship and become faculty right after completing her PhD work). Monica studies a kind of parasite, called a tropanosome, that causes the disease African Sleeping Sickness. They are very difficult to control for a vaiety of reasons, one of them being the focus of her work (and some very cool science) on how they can rapidly change their coats to avoid detection by our immune system (aka antigenic variation). Monica finds these parasites so cool to study because they break all of the rules (read: they don’t follow any of the classic biology rules that she learned in class). Lots of mystery and discovery!
Monica and I have a great conversation on how to make a great science presentation (and how difficult it can be to strike the right amount of info, depending on your audience). We also discuss the challenges of conveying the importance of global health science research, especially when the illness primarily impacts people on a different continent.
Our latest guest, Dean Mike Klag, has served at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health for the past decade and has worked to keep the School at the forefront of both international and community health. Dean Klag describes the roots of our school, the largest and oldest school of public health and how, owing to its biomedical roots, it is unique in that it hosts three basic science departments as well as more classic public health fields like international health, epidemiology, policy, biotstats, and mental health.
We also learn about how he got into public health and his major goals and accomplishments as dean. Dean Klag will be stepping down in June 2017.
Our latest guest, Dr. Meghan Moran, researches how the tobacco industry uses persuasive messaging on youths and teens–and how public health policy makers can use that knowledge to implement prevention campaigns. She also uses her expertise in persuasive communication to analyze why people are swayed by anti-vaccine messaging, and that it is not for the reasons we typically consider! Meghan is an Assistant Professor in Health, Behavior and Society Department at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
Nina welcomes Dean Mike Ward onto Public Health United on our latest podcast. Mike is the Associate Dean of Enrollment Management & Student Affairs at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. In addition to being a very caring person in charge of student affairs at the School, Mike is passionate about fitness. He became a personal trainer over a decade ago, has done 6 marathons and many half marathons. He loves being a personal trainer in order to help people create sustainable, independent fitness plans to stay healthy for the long term.
Nina and Mike share a love of fitness and have a fantastic time discussing fitness plans, keeping motivated over the longerm, and how to start getting fit again after illness.
Check out the podcast to know more about Nina’s Comeback…
Although it doesn’t get as much attention as malaria and HIV, over 4,000 people die every day from tuberculosis (TB) according to the World Health Oganization. Our latest podcast guest, Dr. David Dowdy, Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, does cool and important, highly interdisciplinery research that combines medicine, infectious disease episdemiology, and health economics to combat TB. And to coodinate those diverse fields, he of course is a science communication superstar! We had a wonderful time talking scicomm, how we are learning the core lingo of the various public health fields and also how each field has a slightly different ways of thinking.
David also has a deep caring for students and inspiring the next generation of public health professionals (he’s the winner of multiple mentoring and teaching awards!).