Posts Tagged ‘cancer education’

Scientists of the Next Generation

As children we have all been to the doctor, visited the dentist, perhaps even sat in the cockpit of a plane. Anyone ever sit in front of a cryo-electron microscope, play with the dials on a mass spectrometer, or manipulate the genetic code? Most of us probably did not have that opportunity. I surely did not. So how will children, that is, our next generation of scientists, even consider being a scientist without ever knowing what a scientist does?

I am a cancer biologist with a lab focused on cancer metastasis (spread of the cancer). We study how cancer metastasis occurs in subtypes of patients to develop new treatments designed for these particular patients. On the side, I have also traveled throughout Georgia visiting over 3,000 students in K-12th grade to teach them about science and scientists. I have had the fortunate experience of visiting over 40 schools ranging from urban to rural, and public to private. I can state with 100% certainty that children are extremely interested in real science. Whether it has been high school assemblies or elementary school STEM fairs, students (adults too) are excited, enthusiastic, and most of all curious. They are curious not just about science itself, but what a scientist is and what a scientist does.

This signals to me that we need to make science more accessible. City wide science fairs, STEM fairs in school, career days, Twitter chats (#scistuchat), and experiential science in the classroom are excellent approaches. But scientists too need to open up their labs to reach out as well. We, as a professional group, need to show that we are not a bunch of mad scientists in the lab running through billows of smoking Erlenmeyer flasks trying to cure cancer. Instead we are well-coordinated teams of researchers and clinicians, working in fields that include math, engineering, informatics, surgery, and genetics that share a common goal of helping humans.

So, to all scientists out there, I propose to just take out your phone and record a 1-minute, impromptu lab tour, and send it to social media (#labtour). This gives anyone access through the locked lab doors to see what we do and who we are. My lab’s really quick video is posted here and embedded below.

The next generation of scientists are sitting out there right now learning in our classrooms. Within their minds are new treatments for cancer, novel screening approaches for neurodegenerative diseases, ideas for space exploration, and new robotic technologies. It is up to teachers, scientists, families, and communities to engage these students, make science more accessible, and let them know what is out there. I believe that if they can know the names and abilities of every single super-hero, princess, and cartoon character by age 7, they can surely know the parts of a cell. Let’s challenge them and see what we get!

About Dr. Marcus


Adam Marcus, PhDAdam Marcus received his PhD in cell biology from Penn State University in 2002 and went on to do a post-doctoral fellowship in cancer pharmacology at Emory University. Dr. Marcus is an Associate Professor at Emory University School of Medicine and has developed his own laboratory which focuses on cell biology and pharmacology in lung and breast cancer. Dr. Marcus’ laboratory studies how cancer cells invade and metastasize using a combination of molecular and imaging-based approaches. For more information about Dr. Marcus and his outreach and research efforts, please use the related resources links below. You can also follow Dr. Marcus on Twitter @NotMadScientist.

Related Resources

Cancer Clinical Study Leads to Video Tool for Prostate Cancer Patients

At Emory, research plays a key role in the mission to serve our patients and their families. Medical advances and improvements to patient care have been made possible by research and volunteer participation in clinical trials. More than 1,000 clinical trials are offered at Emory, making a difference in people’s lives, today.

Recently, a clinical study initiated by Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, found that providing prostate cancer patients with a video-based education tool significantly improved their understanding of key terms necessary to making decisions about their treatment.

The breakthrough study was led by three Winship at Emory investigators; Viraj Master, MD, PhD, FACS; Ashesh Jani, MD; and Michael Goodman, MD, MPH; and is the feature cover story of this month’s Cancer, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

In 2013, Master, Jani and Goodman released an Emory study that showed that prostate cancer patients (treated at Grady Hospital in Atlanta) experienced a severe lack of understanding of prostate key terms. The original study showed only 15 percent of the patients understood the meaning of “incontinence”; less than a third understood “urinary function” and “bowel habits”; and fewer than 50 percent understood the word “impotence.”

In response to their findings, the three principle investigators jumped to find a solution to the problem. The latest study explored using a video-based tool to educate prostate cancer patients on key terminology. The physicians predicted that with a better understanding of terms linked to disease, patients would be able to participate in shared and informed decision-making throughout the prostate cancer treatment process.

About the Prostate Cancer Video Trial:

  • 56 male patients were recruited from two low-income safety net clinics and received a key term comprehension test before and after viewing the educational video.
  • The video software (viewed by participants on iPads) featured narrated animations depicting 26 terms that doctors and medical staff frequently use in talking with prostate cancer patients.
  • Learn more by watching this video:

clinical trials for prostate cancer

Results of the Prostate Cancer Video Trial:

Participants who viewed the educational video demonstrated statistically significant improvements in comprehension of prostate terminology. For instance, before viewing the application, 14 percent of the men understood “incontinence”; afterward, 50 percent of them demonstrated understanding of the term.

“This shows that video tools can help patients understand these critical prostate health terms in a meaningful way. The ultimate goal is to give patients a vocabulary toolkit to further enable them to make shared and informed decisions about their treatment options,” says Viraj Master. “Our next goal is to improve the tool further, and study this tool at different centers.”

Learn more about clinical trials at Emory >>

Find a clinical trial at Emory >>

 

Additional Information about the Prostate Cancer Trial:

The research for this study was made possible by a Winship Cancer Institute multi-investigator pilot grant and the contributions of faculty and students from Winship, the Rollins School of Public Health and the Emory School of Medicine.

This study was led by three Winship at Emory investigators: Viraj Master, MD, PhD, FACS, Winship urologist and director of clinical research in the Department of Urology at Emory University; Ashesh Jani, MD, professor of radiation oncology in the Emory School of Medicine; and Michael Goodman, MD, MPH, associate professor of epidemiology with the Rollins School of Public Health.

Related Resources: