Understanding the disconnect…

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Well I guess if Ann Coulter is tweeting about your work, that’s how you know you’ve made it… Heh. 

I’ve been completely blown away by all of the press our paper has received over the past few days. I couldn’t be more proud to be involved in such a huge, collaborative project! Generally women’s health, and particularly women’s reproductive health, never gets any coverage, gets very limited funding, and never makes it into high-impact publications. For example, the first couple of journals to which we submitted our work rejected it outright, because it wasn’t broad enough in scope, and they preferred manuscripts that would resonate with a “broad audience.” You know, because half of the global population is not broad enough.

Thank you to the 120+ news outlets that have picked this up so far, for proving them wrong, and proving that women’s health matters. I really think this will change the way we look at medicine and personalized health care in the future. And additionally, we are working on a male equivalent as well!

It has also been a truly enlightening experience. In just a few days the headlines went from “Mini reproductive systems helping doctors in big ways!” to “Meet the Tamponator! Scientists give robot her first period in chilling scientific feat!” or “Scientists create handheld vagina!”

No. That’s not what we did. At all. In fact, we did not even have vaginal tissue in the model at all.

But this is exactly why the general public is so misinformed about scientific issues. Think of the headlines you’ve seen about vaccines and climate change.

I had the unique opportunity to witness how things get twisted first hand with this most recent paper. I sat in on all of the interviews that my PI did. I also did a few interviews myself. I know exactly what questions were asked and how they were answered. And I saw how the different media outlets would spin their stories afterwards. While most of the outlets that actually interviewed us got it right, there were a few that obviously had their own agenda from the start.

For example, one reporter kept asking my PI if we were trying to use this system as an artificial womb and would we be doing in vitro experiments in this system. Teresa repeatedly said, no, that’s not what we’re doing, that’s not what we intend to do. We don’t know enough about the technology or biology to be able to do anything like that, and that’s not something we would want to do in the future. She would pivot back to what we are actually doing and why it’s so important, and again he would go back to the artificial uterus question and talking about lab babies.

When the segment aired… guess what he said we were trying to do?

He even called another scientist to discuss the ethics of doing something like this. The segment ended with the other scientist saying, “that’s completely unethical…I mean, who’s going to take care of all these babies?”

So how do we solve this problem? I have a few ideas brewing… More on this later.

 

 

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