At the end of May, we announced the winners of our Science Communication Competition. This month the winning written piece ‘How to make a magnetically-controlled mouse’ by Donald Iain MacDonald is published in the August issue of The Biochemist.
To coincide with the publication of this piece, we asked Joe Tickle, the winner of the video competition, about the inspiration behind his winning animation ‘Inflammation and Liver Disease’. Joe is currently studying for a PhD in Immunity and Infection at the University of Birmingham.
“During my PhD studying liver disease I often found myself completely absorbed with my research. Hours spent in the lab focusing on individual experiments sometimes meant I lost sight of how my work fits in to the bigger picture. For me, public engagement has provided a great opportunity to take a step back and remember the real value of my research to the lives of the people affected. It’s always interesting to discuss my work with the public, patients and their families and help answer some of the questions they may have.
However, while talking at public engagement events I’ve often found that people know very little about the function of the liver and particularly how it can become diseased. This lack of public awareness of one of the top five ‘big killers’ in the UK is quite disconcerting, particularly as the number of deaths from liver disease is increasing annually. Considering that approximately 90% of liver disease is due to three preventable risk factors – alcohol, viral hepatitis and obesity – public education is a key tool in this fight.
Although there are already many great educational resources available on the subject of liver disease, I wanted to produce a resource that focused on my area of expertise: the basic mechanism of hepatic inflammation. This common process underlies all forms of liver disease and guides the progression from fibrosis to cirrhosis and potentially cancer development.
I chose to produce an animation as I think it’s a great medium to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Scientific animations can easily be shared on social media and therefore reach people and places that other forms of media cannot. By keeping the imagery as simple as possible I was able to explain what is a fairly complex subject in an engaging and light-hearted way. I hope that through this video I help to raise awareness of liver disease and even pique the interest of some to start learning more.”
You can view Joe’s winning entry on the Biochemical Society’s YouTube channel.
Read more about the Science Communication Competition on the Biochemical Society’s website.