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3rd BEB Symposium - Interview with Doctor Cláudia Cavadas

By: José Miguel Diniz. Date of publication: 21 December 2016
As a part of the 3rd BEB Symposium, in Coimbra, Portugal, José Miguel Diniz and Ana Cunha, from Porto Biomedical Journal, interviewed Professor Doctor Cláudia Cavadas on some topics regarding the 3rd BEB Symposium's motto and scientific communication.

Professor Doctor Cláudia Cavadas is coordinator of the Department of Scientific Communication of the University of Coimbra and leads the neuroendocrinology and ageing research group at CNC (Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology).

We are very honoured for the Professor Cavadas's insight and collaboration with us, and would like to share it with the scientific community.


 
 

People need and deserve to know and understand what has been done and what is going in our laboratories.


Porto Biomedical Journal: How does BEB Symposium stand out from other congresses?

Cláudia Cavadas: This is the 3rd BEB Symposium, the symposium of the doctoral programme of experimental Biology and Biomedicine. There is one thing in common between this edition and the others - it is only organised by PhD students. Besides that, this edition is a little different because it is open to the general society, it takes place at the Museu da Ciência (Museum of Science), allowing the entrance of more people. The final evening session about the power of knowledge is perhaps the biggest difference from the other editions because it is opened to the general public.

PBJ: This year's theme is "Knowledge is power" - how does the promotion of science concede more power to the scientific and non-scientific communities?

Knowledge in science usually makes us translate scientific information to a more difficult language, which is not perceived by all.


CC: The communication of science requires us to transmit science to the general public in an understandable manner. If the general public realizes what we are doing in science, they collect enough information to empower themselves, to have an opinion and to make some decisions. That’s why knowledge could be power.
Knowledge in science usually makes us translate scientific information to a more difficult language, which is not perceived by all. But that is what we have to avoid, we need to translate this information into a simple language that everyone understands, regardless the academic degree.

PBJ: As a researcher and coordinator of the Scientific Communication Department at the CNC, what challenges do you consider the most important regarding the communication of knowledge?

We need to be aware that many interpretations can arise from a given information, it depends on who reads it.


CC: Besides communicating knowledge itself, we need to understand if knowledge is perceptible and if there are no misinterpretations. We need to be aware that many interpretations can arise from a given information, it depends on who reads it. And we need to be careful how we communicate science, not transforming it into "there is a cure for it and that", meaning that we have to inform in a simple and understandable manner.
Rather than creating expectations, people should realize, namely in the biomedical investigation, that there is the risk of misguiding people and label all diseases with a cure. Progress is slow because of the complexity of this process.
The problem is that we have several moments, regarding the translation of information from the investigator to those who are in charge of communicating science. In our case, our Science Communication Office at Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology we have a collaborator form communication field, with no background in biomedical research, which is an advantage. This person is a key collaborator that easily realises that the general public will understand.
This team turns out to be very effective because there is the transferring of information from the investigator to the Communication Office and from this to the media. In this last step, from the office to journalists, there is the risk of misinterpretation, making it crucial to ensure the right transferring of information. And that is a great challenge.

PBJ: What is your opinion about projects such as the Porto Biomedical Journal, which aims at promoting science in a free and accessible way?

I believe this kind of free divulgation for everyone is fundamental, which, in a certain way, ends up promoting the investigation.


CC: I think that everything that deals with information requires specific attention about the challenge of translating it and to pass the right message. For such a journal as yours, you need to be aware of the importance of a very rigorous revision process, to make Porto Biomedical Journal be more than just an ordinary journal, but a very qualified one. That emphasizes the importance of leading a peer review from investigators of the same biomedical field with no intermediate contacts.
I believe this kind of free divulgation for everyone is fundamental, which, in a certain way, ends up promoting the investigation.

PBJ: What impact do you expect from the scattering of free knowledge among the non-scientific community?

CC: In fact, the taxes are paid and a fraction is given to science, meaning that we have to explain to the scientific community what we are doing. In the other hand, as I have told you before, the more information we dispose, the higer the ability for people to decide and understand. People need and deserve to know and understand what has been done and what is going in our laboratories.

PBJ: Thank you.


Porto Biomedical Journal would like to thank the BEB Symposium Organising Committee for our great partnership, at this year’s event. We are looking forward for the 4th Edition!

More information regarding BEB Symposium, please visit the website: http://www.uc.pt/en/iii/bebsymposium
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