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25 April 2023
Cracking the Code: The importance of effective communication in genetic researcH
By: Evi Useh
DNA Day has given me the perfect opportunity to reflect on the importance of my daily work as a healthcare communicator. It is a global movement commemorating the discovery of the double helix and the completion of the human genome project. It provides an opportunity for communities, educators and students alike to reflect on the discoveries which paved the way for the advancement and understanding of science and medicine, which greater understanding around genetics has given us.
The importance of this is not lost on me, having studied Medical Genetics at University after which I obtained a Masters degree in Cell and Gene Therapy. The understanding of the therapeutic applications of DNA and genes was essential to the progression of my learning, and the potential it held to revolutionise the future of medicine deeply fascinated me.
After spending years dedicated to this, confident that my future lay in genetic research and working in a lab, it was a shock to have found the lab placement portion of my Masters mundane and repetitive. This left me with a feeling of confusion about my future, and ultimately had me questioning what to do with the wealth of knowledge I had acquired over the past four years and the passion I had for this field.
When I first came across Consilium Strategic Communications in 2022, I quickly realised I had landed upon a deeply exciting career opportunity that I hadn’t previously even known existed. I was enthralled by the fast-paced and dynamic world of financial PR and healthcare communications, which addresses my concerns of working in the lab and allows me to apply the valuable knowledge and skills I gained to support my clients who make use of genetic understanding to develop innovative medicines.
Genetic research is a notoriously difficult and misunderstood field, and I routinely get questions about ‘cloning babies’ and other apocalyptic digressions when people hear about what I studied. There are relatively few people with a deep knowledge about genetic medicine. And in a field which has the potential to radically shape medicine and society, this is a problem.
Communication when working in genetics is vital, as it is the only way to inform the public about innovation and progress in the field. The knowledge of how to effectively convey a message to various audiences including investors, researchers and patients is a crucial aspect of our job. It is essential to accurately convey just how important the research being carried out at different stages in genetic research as well as other areas is. Clear delivery is key; whether the goal is to attract investors or ensure the public understands the importance and impact the discoveries being made are in the lives of millions of patients.
Working in healthcare-focused strategic public relations has presented me with the rare opportunity to work with some of the most innovative companies in the genetic field, including Evonetix, a ground-breaking company I recently began working with, who have discovered faster and more accurate ways to synthesise gene-length DNA, and Nucleome Therapeutics, which has a 3D genomics platform which revolutionises drug target discovery and first-in-class precision medicines.
This DNA Day, I am reminded of the significant development in genomic research over the past decades and the application of these discoveries in the development of gene therapies and other various treatments which better the lives of patients all around the world, and I am proud to play a small role in this every day.