Science communication has never been so critical. And the need to break down the barrier between researchers and the public is especially important as it relates to women’s health; sex differences affect disease risk, disease outcomes, and drug efficacy.
Dr. Liisa Galea, a professor in UBC’s department of psychology and lead of the Women’s Health Research Cluster, has received support from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) through its 2020 Reach Competition. The MSFHR Reach Program is designed to bring together researchers and research users, including patients, caregivers, health practitioners, policy makers, and the public, to support the dissemination of research evidence.
The program will provide opportunities for multidisciplinary trainees to develop and strengthen their science communication skills and gain experience translating knowledge using multiple mediums—including writing, podcast, and video.
“Women’s health is directly influenced by physiological and societal challenges that are unique to women. There is a critical need to convey how different physiological experiences, like menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause influence women’s health—and importantly, how gendered experiences and expectations drive disparities in women’s health. This program will give women, men and gender diverse individuals direct access to women’s health research.”
“Providing students with the opportunity to learn how to effectively connect key audiences with critical information, and giving them the opportunity to practice using diverse formats, is one way we hope to close this gap in the present and the future,” says Katherine Moore, network manager with the Women’s Health Research Cluster.
Moore adds, “It takes 17 years on average for new knowledge to be put into practice. Within this time, Canada could have three different Prime Ministers before a new life saving drug becomes commercialized. This lag impacts us all and we want to do something about it.”
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Liisa Galea leads the Women’s Health Research Cluster and is a professor in the department of psychology at UBC. She is also health advisor to VPRI, a member of the Centre for Brain Health and a scientific advisor at Women’s Health Research Institute at UBC. Her research investigates how sex hormones influence brain health and disease in both females and males. Although sex differences exist in many brain diseases, research targeting sex as a factor in brain health has been scarce. Dr. Galea’s research is vital in filling this knowledge gap, specifically in understanding how sex and hormones influence neuroplasticity in females as too often women’s health is ignored in research. This preclinical work is essential for developing tailored treatments for brain disease in both women and men.
Women’s Health Knowledge Translation Initiative & Science Communication Training Program | 2020 MSFHR Reach Competition Awardee
- Lead: Dr. Liisa Galea
- Co-lead: Katherine Moore
- Partners: Dr. Sarah Munro, CHÉOS; Dr. Lori Brotto, Women’s Health Research Institute; Dr. Marina Adshade, UBC; Shirley Weir, Menopause Chicks; Patricia Tomasi, Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative; Melissa Nelson, Women’s Health Research Institute; Bonnie Vockeroth, UBC; Victoria Gay, BC Women’s Foundation; Vanessa Hrvatin, Centre for Brain Health; Bonnie Lee, UBC; Dr. Lesa Dawson, Memorial University; Beverley Pomeroy, BC Support Unit