Advancing Truth

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

As scientists and physicians, our life missions depend on the clear dissemination of truth, so the current events can be particularly disheartening. It is critical that the facts we find and the truth we seek reach the public. Fortunately, this concern for truth-telling is felt beyond our local labs and clinics. 

The World Federation of Science Journalists, the National Association of Science Writers and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing collaborated to sponsor last week’s World Conference of Science Journalists here in San Francisco.

Over 1,300 science writers from 70 countries visited our city by the Bay to share their enthusiasm and curiosity, and meet with practicing scientists to learn about their latest research.

Naturally, media coverage of the event was elaborate and exceptional. Numerous fascinating stories resulted from the conference, including Sebastián Rodríguez’s story “Stop Doing Pr, Start Questioning”: BBC Correspondent On CRISPR Coverage. In it, he covers a discussion between famed science writer Carl Zimmer and Australian Broadcasting Corporation host Natasha Mitchell about journalists’ important role in the CRISPR revolution.

On Sunday, Oct. 29, UCSF hosted a summit for many of the conference attendees.

One of UCSF’s most prominent researchers, infectious disease specialist Professor Joe DeRisi, kicked-off the event in a conversation with Zimmer. The topics ranged from a discussion of brain-eating amoebas, to tapeworms, to DNA sequencing, highlighting medical science at its most diverse.

Fresh from this invigorating exchange, the conference attendees broke into lunch groups with various UCSF researchers, allowing for a more interactive exposure to the wide variety of work we do. The discussion spanned a considerable range, from artificial kidneys, to laser-based dentistry, and even a potential cure for "Bubble Boy" disease.

After lunch, a series of breakout sessions and tours were held, to better acquaint the participants with the university’s broader public health and research goals, including improved digital health records and advancement of the the cell-based cancer therapy revolution.

UCSF has been a shining light of science and truth for many decades. With an increasingly crowded media, and many stories vying for attention, it’s reassuring to know that we still have the eyes and ears of the world’s press, and that the implications of our work will be retold by talented journalists the world over.