Sustainable Infrastructures for Life Science Communication: A Workshop

What institutional barriers are keeping life scientists from communicating to the public about their work? While issues in the life sciences find increasing relevance in public dialogue — environmental change, health and medicine, food security, among others — there appears to be little in the way of institutional or societal commitment and infrastructure to support the communications activities of life scientists. At the same time, some organizations are exploring new or alternate models for supporting life scientists as they interact with various publics.

Leaders from the life sciences community and from research organizations explored the current landscape of public communication of the life sciences.  The workshop addressed many challenges life scientists face, policy restrictions in government, incentives and adequate support structures at the university level, and intellectual property issues in industry. Participants also highlighted  new opportunities and models of communications. The workshop concluded with discussions about the funding landscape for life scientist communicators and the building blocks needed to develop sustainable infrastructures for life science communication.

OrganizersKenneth Ramos, University of Arizona (co-chair); Brooke Smith, COMPASS (co-chair); May Berenbaum, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign; Rick Borchelt, US Department of Energy; Bruce Lewenstein, Cornell University; Stephen Palacios, Added Value Cheskin

The Roundtable on Public Interfaces of the Life Sciences of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was a multidisciplinary forum that ran from 2013 to 2015. Many of the discussions initiated during its workshops have continued in independent venues within and outside of the NASEM.

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Please visit National Academies Press website for the most recent NASEM reports and workshop summaries on public engagement and science communication.