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Award-winning researcher says relationships with news media, public are critical
Date:11/17/2008

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Relationships between scientists and the news media have evolved tremendously over the past 25 years, and scientists should continue to improve communications with both the media and the lay public, according to a Wake Forest University researcher whose commentary appears this month in a major scientific journal.

David P. Friedman, Ph.D., professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, says in the article that until the 1980s, the scientific community did a very poor job of communicating with anyone beyond their own campuses. That, he says, was and still is a mistake.

As the 2007 winner of the Science Educator Award from the 38,000-member Society of Neuroscience, Friedman was asked to contribute a commentary on the importance of neuroscience education and public outreach for this month's edition of The Journal of Neuroscience.

"Engagement with the public is a responsibility that many, if not most of us (scientists) should accept," Friedman writes in his commentary. "I would even argue that it is a moral imperative, to be ignored at our own risk."

Animal activism by people who opposed the use of animals in medical research, Friedman recalls, was an impetus for some scientists to reach out to middle and high school teachers whose students "were being taught that scientists who use animals were evil and that the use of animals in research or teaching was both immoral and unnecessary."

That spurred several scientific organizations to team up with teachers and their organizations to provide accurate information about scientific research to students in K-12. That was valuable in itself, Friedman writes, but also because, "once you begin to understand how to use lay language to explain science to kids, you become increasingly well equipped to explain it to almost anyone.

"In fact," he says, "it sets you up to work with one of the most important audi
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Contact: Mark Wright
mwright@wfubmc.edu
336-716-3382
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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