PUSHING AT THE EDGES
‘Digital Summit’ Explores New Ways to Communicate Health, Science

Susannah Fox, chief technology officer at HHS, and John Burklow, head of communications at NIH, take questions after her summit keynote.
Susannah Fox, chief technology officer at HHS, and John Burklow, head of communications at NIH, take questions after her summit keynote.

Here’s looking at you, alpha geeks. We’re counting on you to help us tell the stories of science and medicine in the years ahead. That’s what one keynote speaker, HHS Chief Technology Officer Susannah Fox, told attendees at the first NIH Digital Summit on Oct. 19.

“My mission and purpose in life is to stay close to the edges of medicine and science,” she said, describing the 15 years she’s spent following people who are living with life-changing diagnoses and rare conditions. “Because I really believe they are the alpha geeks of health care. When you follow the alpha geeks of any industry, you’re following the hackers. You’re following the people who are pushing on every tool, pushing at the edges of medicine…This way I can bring back reports from the future, so we can better think about where things are headed in terms of health and technology. That’s our shared mission. That’s what you do here at NIH, push at the edges of medicine and science in treatment and in the labs and in the research you do.”

The summit brought “together communicators, patients, researchers and health professionals from inside and outside government to talk about the most effective ways to communicate on digital platforms,” said John Burklow, NIH associate director for communications and public liaison, opening the event. Two keynote lectures, 4 panels, an exhibit/demo area and several topic tables comprised the day-long summit. More than 1,400 people registered to attend the event, either in Masur Auditorium or online. A screen featuring a real-time Twitter feed using #NIHDigital kept in-person and online attendees engaged in the conversation.

Read more
THE SEE-THROUGH PHASE
Zebrafish Offer View of TB Pathogenesis

Dr. Lalita Ramakrishnan
Dr. Lalita Ramakrishnan
In addition to killing more than 1.5 million people a year globally—according to 2013 data from the World Health Organization— tuberculosis is a disease of irony and paradox.

Irony because, although effective antibiotic treatments were developed in the 1960s—and are still being used today—TB remains widespread. “It is killing more people today than it has ever killed before,” said Dr. Lalita Ramakrishnan, who presented “The Zebrafish Guide to Tuberculosis” at the Wednesday Afternoon Lecture on Oct. 7. “Multidrug resistant tuberculosis is quite widespread. TB is now the lethal disease that it was in the pre-antibiotic years.”

Read more