Our next communicating science competition, a new approach to fighting Shigella and finding genetic answers to Tourette syndrome

Dear Mass General Research Community,

We frequently talk about the importance of communicating your science to a general audience. Here’s a quick story to show how this can pay dividends.

In 2015, Patrick Purdon, PhD, an anesthesia researcher working with Dr. Emery Brown and others on a new methodology for monitoring sedated patients using measurements of brain waves, sent us copies of two recent journal articles the team had published, along with brief summaries explaining their science.

In 2016, Patrick applied to present at our first Art of Talking Science competition at HUBweek. He won the event with an innovative performance that connected the brain waves produced by different anesthesia drugs to the notes in the song “Fly Me to the Moon,” which he bravely sung in front of a packed audience. Watch his winning presentation.

This summer, Patrick was featured in a segment on WBUR radio, “Brain Music: How ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ Can Explain Your Brain on Anesthesia," where he had the opportunity to reach thousands of listeners in the Boston area and beyond.

We all don't have to sing about our science in a crowd or on the radio to be good science communicators, of course. There's a lot to be gained just by practicing the basics.

When was the last time you tried explaining your research to someone without a formal science background? You’d be surprised at how challenging it can be—and how easy it is to slip into jargon and acronyms.

If you’re interested in building your communication skills, please join us at our next Art of Talking Science Competition, which takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 11, as part of HUBweek 2017.

This year's theme is "Rise of the Machines," and we’re looking for scientists to present on topics related to digital health, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

If you’re working in one of these areas, apply to be a presenter today. If not, please join us in the audience for what promises to be a lively and thought-provoking event.

We hope to see you there!

Until next month,

Susan A. Slaugenhaupt, PhD
Scientific Director,
Mass General Research Institute


Compete at our next communicating science event

Applications are now being accepted for our second Art of Talking Science Competition at HUBweek this fall. This year’s theme is Rise of the Machines, and we are looking for researchers to present on topics related to artificial intelligence, deep learning and digital health.

Learn more and apply to present
Investigator Profile

Faherty explores new strategies to stop Shigella from wreaking havoc in the digestive tract

Christina Faherty, PhD, is developing two new strategies for treating Shigella that could finally overcome 50 years of failed treatment efforts.

Her approach is based on an understanding of the genetic changes that Shigella undergoes as it travels through the digestive system, primarily as a result of exposure to bile in the small intestine.


In Depth

Team effort finds first definitive answers to complex genetic basis of Tourette syndrome

A team effort among genetic researchers, clinicians, a patient advocacy group and volunteer study participants has revealed new genetic insights into Tourette syndrome—a neuropsychiatric disorder that results in involuntary physical and verbal tics.

The study helps to confirm the theory that Tourette syndrome results from a complex series of genetic changes, rather than a single mutated gene. It may also provide comfort for individuals with the disorder, who are often stigmatized for their uncontrollable movements and outbursts.

“I think the challenge with neuropsychiatric disorders is that people misunderstand them. They assume somehow that the mind is different from the brain, and therefore there is an inappropriate stigma associated with them,” explains Jeremiah Scharf, MD, PhD, of the Psychiatric & Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit in the departments of Neurology and Psychiatry, and the Center for Genomic Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.


Postdoc Profile

How good does your vision need to be to drive safely?

Mojtaba Moharrer, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the Mass General, Harvard Medical School-affiliated Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear, is working on new strategies to help visually impaired drivers operate their vehicles safely.


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