Mass General Research Institute Celebrates Science with the Community

Children take a closer look at a pill-sized imaging device from the Tearney lab

While many scientists can breeze through scientific study after study, people without a science background often struggle with the jargon and technical terms. But science isn’t just for scientists, it’s for everyone.

At the Mass General Research Institute, one of our top priorities is to share cutting-edge science with the public in a way that is interesting and easy to understand.

Our communicating science initiatives include working with scientists to help them find ways to display their work in accessible language, as well as community outreach to give our scientists a chance to meet the public and explain their work.

This April, the Research Institute organized two events designed to promote science communication and outreach as part of the Cambridge Science Festival.

Science Carnival and Robot Zoo

The Cambridge Science Festival’s Science Carnival and Robot Zoo is one of the Festival’s main events. Housed in the Cambridge Public Library and Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, the Science Carnival includes over 100 groups from across Massachusetts that bring exhibits and activities for all to enjoy.

This year the Research Institute represented Mass General with scientists from the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, the Mass General Postdoc Association, the MGH Institute for Health Professions and the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center.

The Wellman Center for Photomedicine provided a number of fun activities that demonstrated how light can be used in medicine. Visitors could building their own mini lava lamps, measure light transmission through their fingers, view a transparent mouse brain and more!

Researchers from the Tearney Lab imaging oranges and grapes for children

Mass General postdocs joined forces to create a map of the circulatory system and demonstrating how cells could be separated using a cell sizer.

Mass General postdocs with their display of the circulatory system

MassGeneral Hospital for Children was represented with Nitya Jain’s lab from the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center. At her table, kids learned about what makes a healthy gut and “A Recipe for Healthy Poo.”

Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center staff making “poo” with a young visitor

At the MGH Institute for Health Professions table, visitors could make their own brain hats and take home seeds for Forget Me Not flowers that they could plant at home as a reminder of the importance of brain health!

MGH Institute for Health Professions table

Science Slam

On Thursday, we partnered with the Harvard Health Innovation Network (HHIN) and the Brigham Research Institute to co-host a science slam at the Daedalus Restaurant in Cambridge.

Researchers were challenged to take the mic and explain their science in three minutes or less—without using PowerPoint slides or technical jargon. For someone who uses technical terms and jargon every day it can be quite the challenge!

A few of our slammers (above) and event organizers from Mass General Research Institute, HHIN and the Brigham Research Institute (below)

Science slams are supposed to be fun and educational not just for the scientists, but for the public as well. Researchers learn how to share their science with people of all backgrounds, and the community can learn about the interesting science happening around them and how it could impact their lives.

This Science Slam included a variety of topics such as streamlining routine care using digital health innovations; associated trauma the possibility of curing leading eye diseases by reprogramming cells in the retina; a new medical device to help patients suffering from end-stage lung disease and the science of chronic pain.

Attendees voted for their favorite slammer and named Laura Kiesel the winner! Laura is a science writer for Harvard Health and has also been written for The Atlantic, The Washington Post and The Guardian, among others.

Laura Kiesel

She slammed about the science of chronic pain and the correlation of trauma and its influence on developing disability later in life.

About the Mass General Research Institute
Massachusetts General Hospital is home to the largest hospital-based research program in the United States. Our researchers work side-by-side with physicians to develop innovative new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent disease.
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