UCSF Group Wins “Stand Up for Science” Video Contest


Five UCSF graduate students—Osama Ahmed, Florie Charles, Nir Oksenberg, Argenta Price and Marta Wegorzewska—and Christin Chong, a postdoc, together have taken first prize in the second annual Stand Up for Science video competition.

The contest, sponsored by Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), is aimed at increasing public awareness of federal funding support for biological and biomedical science. So, rather than “preaching to the choir,” entries for the prize were supposed to appeal to a general, non-scientific audience. The winners received $5,000 for their submission. 

The basic science students' outstanding video, entitled “Funding Basic Science to Revolutionize Medicine,” starts with a “social science” experiment. Random passersby near the Giant's ballpark in San Francisco were asked to imagine that it was 1960, and to vote on whether they would rather give $10 to develop an affordable treatment for diabetes, or to give the same amount to support basic research into how bacteria protect themselves.

Predictably, everyday people tended to vote for the diabetes treatment. But the video shows that research that began around 1960, examining how bacteria defend themselves against viruses, yielded the revolutionary technique of gene splicing. The video goes on to show how this development led to huge advances in the treatment not only of diabetes, but also of many other diseases, including cancer and HIV. Today, recombinant human insulin is produced by cutting certain genes from human chromosomes and inserting them into bacteria, which produce the insulin now used by the majority of diabetics.

Charles, Oksenberg and Wegorzewska are PhD students in the Biomedical Sciences program; Ahmed is in Neuroscience; and Price is in Biochemistry and Biophysics. Chong is a postdoc in Ying-Hui Fu's lab in Neuroscience. All are active in science advocacy groups at UCSF, namely Carry the One Radio, Youreka Science, and the Science Policy Group.

FASEB is a nonprofit organization that works to advance health and welfare by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to its member societies and through collaborative science advocacy.

You can see the award-winning video and the noteworthy runners-up on the FASEB website: http://www.faseb.org/About-FASEB/Scientific-Contests/Stand-Up-for-Scienc...