How Scientists Can Communicate Effectively Video

Charles Knirsch, VP of Clinical Affairs and ID Disease Area Lead at Pfizer, talks about how the pharmaceutical industry needs to convey information in simple terms, avoiding jargon, to regain public confidence.
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How Scientists Can Communicate Effectively I think that researchers themselves could do a better job of trying to explain to the public what it is we do. First of all, I’d like to say that we need to do more of this and I think that the public—if we take the time to do that, we’ll have different view points of course. We’re in heterogeneous and diverse society but unless we do more of that, we can’t say that the public is misperceiving if we don’t give them the information to evaluate. I think that there are many elements that we can explain and speak less in a scientific jargon and actually work with communication specials, frankly, to get messages out in different languages and at different levels. Why not let fourth graders hear about what we’re doing at the level of fourth grader? University students, medical students, medical professional have different ways of communicating with the different constituents in society. There are many organizations now that, because the public votes with their checkbook, and otherwise even their taxes, and the people they elect, we have to go to the public. And particularly around public-private partnerships that we want to build from the private sector with civil society and with the public sector we need to be out and to say what it is, what our core values are, what our mission is, what we can do to be part of the solution, not to take on the whole problem and to build these partnerships with the public sector. I am worried that there is mistrust between the public, the academia and with the public entities, as well, but particularly with the pharmaceutical industry. We have many corrective actions that we’ve taken, we are trying hard to respond and get feedback on what type of factors we need to improve ourselves on. But I would like to see us on a much more positive trajectory where it is clear that what we are doing is delivering what the public wants, the diseases they want us to work on. And the public has a lot of voices as well. So we can’t satisfy all of the needs but certainly we want to be serving medical need in the way the public regains our confidence in what we do. I think that many of the issues that the public has with pharma [sic; the pharmaceutical sector], we need to listen to and we need to understand those issues, what their issues are and we need to enter into a dialogue with the public about these things. When that happens we need to negotiate a path out of that. So I think part of this trust is around transparency around data and publication of data and, frankly, the safety of our medicines. When we explain the safeguards that we do, and the fact that we’re a very highly regulated industry, more so than most industries, and get out with what were doing that to show that we’ve heard what they have said to us, and then what our plans are, and then to ask them is that what you have in mind about our corrective action? The thing we can do is just talk about the great science we do, about the lives that have affected by our medicines and our vaccines, about the programs that we build, the disease elimination programs to health management programs around our therapeutics, it’s not just about the molecules, it’s not just about the vaccine, it is about the disease management programs that we build in to this. Timeless story, asking our customers, our constituents, how are we doing? Getting feedback, changing course. I don’t look at the public as having a misperception of us. I look at our need to have more of a dialogue with the public and to evolve. Science is about evolution anyway, so as scientists, we should evolve with the public.

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