After attending a media training session organized by the MIT student group, Luke E. Stoeckel, PhD, Director of Clinical Neuroscience and Staff Training at MGH-Harvard Center for Addiction Medicine, decided to look at ways to publicize his work.
According to Dr. Stoeckel:
“The Standing Up for Science media workshop, organized by Sense About Science as part of the Cambridge Science Festival, inspired me to think creatively about how to take advantage of social networking tools, such as this Nature blog, to help push science forward by sharing my enthusiasm for science with a wider audience, inspiring the next generation of young scientists to take risks in their work, and advocating for the responsible communication of scientific information.”
The workshop promises to offer “practical guidance for early career researchers to get their voices heard in debates about science; how to respond to bad science when you see it; and top tips for if you come face-to-face with a journalist.”
The program joins Harvard’s “Science in the News” in the effort to explain current scientific topics to non-scientists.
Dr. Stoeckel offers this guest post on his efforts after attending a Standing up for Science Media workshop :
This past week, research groups funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse were brought together via a web conference to exchange ideas centered on an emerging brain imaging technology known as real time functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a promising new tool helping scientists understand brain function in order to develop novel, personalized treatment approaches for disorders involving the brain and behavior, such as addiction.
Addiction has been called the No.1 public health problem in the U.S. One of the defining features of addiction is the loss of control of drug use despite serious consequences. Addictive substances ruin lives by hijacking brain circuits that have evolved to help us meet our survival goals – the needs for food, companionship, and shelter. In addition, these potent substances change these same brain circuits until the pursuit of healthy goals like spending time with family are replaced by compulsions to use addictive substances.
Neurofeedback is a training method in which people are given information about their own brain activity to assist them to learn conscious control of this activity. Our team of clinicians, neuroscientists, computer programmers, and engineers led by Dr. Eden Evins from the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and Dr. John Gabrieli from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one group using real time fMRI-based neurofeedback to determine whether we can help people learn to improve control over their own brain in order to empower these individuals to take back control of the compulsive urges to use drugs that are ruining their lives.
We are in the beginning stages of this research, but the exciting ideas and early findings shared at last week’s NIDA-sponsored web conference are cause for optimism that this area of research will improve our understanding of brain mechanisms underlying addiction and, potentially, will lead to novel therapies for effectively treating this brain disease. This past week’s web conference was also an example of how advances in social networking technologies are revolutionizing how scientific information is exchanged. This has the potential for accelerating scientific advancement, which will be critical for tackling the most complex scientific challenges facing us today.
A couple additional examples of how I was inspired by the Standing up for Science Media workshop include (1) participating in a conference called ‘Hacking Medicine’. This event brought together a group of entrepreneurs and clinicians to tackle large problems in medicine. It was important to advocate for the responsible translation and application of science as the conference centered on a competition to create a product to solve a big problem in the healthcare system by bringing together individuals from diverse backgrounds in science, engineering, healthcare, and business. (2) After the Standing up for Science workshop, a group of members from the conference had our first meeting to put together an article focusing on the challenges we see in translating functional neuroimaging findings from the fields of cognitive neuroscience to application in the typical clinic. We are using social networking tools such as Google docs, Mendeley, etc. to share and grow ideas.