London Health Research Day highlights importance of science communication

Science communication is a key element of modern health research. From presenting at conferences to sharing research findings with the public, it’s a crucial skill for young researchers to develop. 

London Health Research Day (LHRD) provides the opportunity for hundreds of graduate students, trainees, clinical fellows and postdoctoral scholars to practice science communication through the delivery of poster and oral presentations. At the eighth annual LHRD on April 30, more than 400 learners participated from across Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and Faculty of Health Sciences.

LHRD poster presentations

Above: Participants engaging in poster presentations at LHRD 2019

“I love that LHRD brings trainees of all disciplines together to present our work, allowing us to become familiar with the research that is being performed outside of our respective areas. Being recognized with an award for my platform talk made the day even more rewarding,” said Shelby Oke, a PhD candidate working with Dr. Dan Hardy, Scientist at Lawson and Associate Professor at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. Oke is conducting research to determine how maternal insults during pregnancy, such as a low protein diet, influence fetal growth and development. 

This year’s LHRD keynote speaker, Timothy Caulfield, highlighted how science communication is particularly important in the age of misinformation. Caulfield, author of the bestseller Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything ?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash and host of the documentary TV series A User’s Guide to Cheating Death, presented as part of The Lucille & Norton Wolf Health Research Lecture Series. His talk, titled “Science vs. Celebrity: A Battle We Must Win,” focused on the important role scientists play in the battle against pseudoscience. 

“London Health Research Day is an amazing event. It brings together a unique, engaged and highly interdisciplinary community,” noted Caulfield. “Great energy. Great discussion. Great research. What more do you need? It was an honour to be involved."

Tim Caulfield

Above: Timothy Caulfield

Caulfield also participated in a panel discussion on science communication alongside local science communicators Ramina Adam, Dr. Lorelei Lingard, Dr. David Palma and Dr. Matthew Teeter. The panel was moderated by Carly Weeks, Health Reporter at The Globe and Mail, and focused on the importance of communicating science effectively and responsibly. 

“The panel created an incredible opportunity to discuss science communication. I think that it was a great starting point to encourage trainees to get more involved in outreach efforts,” said Ramina Adam, a PhD candidate at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. “Having that in-depth discussion about the importance of science outreach was a great follow-up to Timothy Caulfield’s keynote presentation and very encouraging for trainees who are passionate about the topic.”

Ramina Adam

Above: Ramina Adam shares her perspectives as part of the LHRD panel discussion on science communication.

From the presentation of research projects to the panel discussion, LHRD 2019 was an engaging day of networking and professional development that highlighted the scope of health science in London, Ontario. 

For a full list of this year’s award recipients and to see the photo gallery, please visit the LHRD website.