Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hello world

I've been meaning to start this blog for a long time now.  A year ago, at TEDMED 2012, I met a guy backstage, Jonathan Eisen, who I didn't know from Adam.  It turns out, he's a pretty big deal, and more importantly, a really nice guy, a great scientist, science communicator and now a mentor and friend.  He  writes a science blog I follow, The Tree of Life and gave a great talk at that meeting called 'Meet your microbes', where he talked about fecal transplants, among other things.  You can watch his talk here.

It was our first conversation backstage though, when he challenged me about my 'job' as a scientist, that I remember best.  It went like this:

Jonathan: Oh cool, you do theoretical biology research? What's your twitter handle?

Me: I don't use that stuff, I just do science.

Jonathan: Wait, what's your job as a scientist then?

Me: Uhhh... My job is to do science.

Jonathan: No, your job is to do and then communicate science.  And if you aren't using social media and a blog to do that, you aren't doing it as effectively as you could be.

**update - just after I started this blog, members of Jonathan's lab published this awesome paper in PLoS Biology to help teach scientists how to use social media... I'm trying!**

So, I signed up to twitter (follow me if you wish, I'm @CancerConnector) and vowed to start writing a blog about science. Last week, at TEDMED 2013, I hung out with Jonathan again, and...  well, I'm writing a blog now.

My hopes for this blog are to write about my disparate interests in a somewhat more casual way than I would for official publications.  If you don't know me, I'm a radiation oncologist (someone who takes care of cancer patients and uses radiation therapy to help in their treatment) who does theoretical research into the way cancer works.  This research is usually in the form of mathematical models, but I work closely with biologists as well to ensure that my models are testable.  Because of my background, I have other interests that may find their way into this blog as well that include medical education (here's a recent article on Huffington Post), patient-doctor communication, global health, care of veterans and random medical essays... so bear with me.

I'd be remiss if I didn't also embed my own TEDMED talk as it nicely summarizes ME and will give a sense of who I am and what I'm generally about.  Here I am:



So.  There it is.  I hope this will be useful and informative.  Talk to you soon...