Brackenridge: Communicating My Research

One of the most important aspects of research is being able to communicate it effectively to the target audience. This may be other researchers, policy makers, or even the general public. As researchers, we are immersed in our work and have a deep understanding of the context and significance of our results, but to people outside of our respective fields, technical jargon and a purely numerical reporting of data likely holds no value. We have to provide an explanation for why our research is important and how it is relevant to the audience’s lives. 

My research focuses on developing a model of progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC) using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). In my case, the most relevant audiences would be other researchers, physicians, or families of patients suffering from the disease. There are different aspects of my work that I would highlight depending on which audience I am speaking to. To other researchers, the most significant part of my research would be the technologies I use in order to create a disease model that is specific to each patient. Being able to model disease from cells of patients would be a great step forward in generating better disease models overall. For some diseases, such as PFIC, animal models are inadequate and do not accurately represent the severity and phenotype of the disease that is observed in humans. If I were speaking to families of patients, or to patients themselves, I would emphasize the potential my model has in developing new therapies that directly target the genetic variation. By making a more accurate model, we are able to better study the mechanisms of PFIC and develop or test drugs that may be able to reverse the changes resulting from the genetic mutation. Because my research can be built upon in order to generate treatments that would improve the quality of life of the patients, they would be interested in what I have to say. My work holds personal significance to this specific audience.

As an aspiring physician, I will be constantly interacting with other physicians, researchers, and patients on a daily basis. I will be the person presenting complicated topics in a simplified way, as well as an audience member, listening and learning about intricate subjects outside of my area of expertise. I will continue to use the techniques I learned during the Brackenridge Fellowship, such as providing an adequate background, limiting technical jargon, and emphasizing significance throughout my research career.

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