For a neglected tropical disease like T. solium, there is much that goes beyond diagnosis and treatment. As there is barely any data concerning the incidence of the pork tapeworm, it is hard to know which areas are in need of our diagnostic tool. This is why education and the spread of awareness is vital to a project like ours. Only by making people aware of the menace of T. solium, the need of a quick and cheap test is realized by the local population. A step towards this goal was undertaken by us at the European Students’ Conference (ESC) in Berlin.
The ESC is one of the largest biomedical student conferences and hosts about 450 participants. This years topic “Genetic Engineering - When Chance Meets Choise“ was a perfect opportunity for diagnost-x to present the project to the interdisciplinary participants from various cultures. In form a workshop, we were able to teach the attendants about our project, as well as coach them how to form a successful international collaboration.
Tasked with the incredible chance to design a 90 minutes workshop for students from India, Romania, The Netherlands and other countries, it was important for us to go beyond presenting our own project. It had to be shown that besides the idea, the implementation matters. What was important for us to get across is how much personal resources matter, and where the limitations lie. This is why we let the participants come up with their own ideas concerning a partnership with diagnost-x. They were put into groups with members from different nationalities, to get across how difficult communication between different cultures can be. The end-goal was to have the groups mock up a partnership with diagnost-x. For this partnership they used resources and contacts available to them in the real world. The groups were made to work on topics important to a project like funding, acquisition of samples and awareness. As alluded to earlier, the groups individually found out what a key issue awareness is. Without the general public’s knowledge about T. solium, our project cannot succeed. This is where the members of the workshop pleasantly surprised us. Out of their own initiative, they wanted to bring the project to their home countries. Not knowing much about the pork tapeworm earlier, they realized it might be a problem in their home country. Together with diagnost-x they will spread awareness for T. solium in their communities. Once the test is ready for field, these are the communities where we will tackle the tapeworm first.
Participation in Cystinet conference
In the beginning of June we were invited to participate at the conference of the interdisciplinary network of scientists and physicians Cystinet that deals with the global challenge of T.solium infestation in human and animal. One of our team leaders travelled to Riga, Latvia to present our approach to develop affordable field diagnostic for the disease.
It was a great opportunity to get in contact with several specialists on the topic and we made valuable contacts in questions of scientific exchange and possible future collaborations for clinical trials and sample acquisition.
We hope to keep up a good and productive contact to the organisation and are optimistic that together we may come one step closer on finding a solution to the growing amount of T.solium related diseases.
Long Night of the Sciences (LNDW)
What is the Long Night of the Sciences (LNDW)?
More than 70 scientific and technology-oriented institutions opened their doors in the night from the 24th to the 25th of July in Berlin to communicate science in a playful and understandable way to everyone. Visitors got the opportunity to take a nocturnal look at the diverse worlds of science and research, which are normally inaccessible for them.
Diagnost-x contribution to the Long Night of Sciences
Presenting our project not only to scientists, but to everyone who is interested is immensely important to us in order to show that neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are worth working on and that we have come quite a way already! Since we aim to raise awareness in the public for NTDs, we took the chance to present our project to a broad audience at the LNDW. In this night, around 10.000 people from all over Berlin, including kids, students and adults, were entering the Charité Crossover building in which we were presenting our work. With several attractions for kids as worm gummy bears, ‚catch the worm‘-games and image search games, we could also explain -in an understandable and playful way- to our youngest guests the importance of proper diagnostic tests in the fight of NTDs. Not only kids’ games but also a quiz on Tania solium and NTDs and tapeworm-diagnost-x postcards attracted visitors to our stand. With the help of a pipe cleaner toehold switch model, video sequences of the RNA triggered color change and schematic posters we could transfer our main message and project aims to our older guests.
Lively discussions were not only enriching our visitors but also us! We got new inspirations for our project and lots of new input in terms of our scientific design, ways of financing our project and in communicating it to the public. We could fascinate new people from our project and its importance since almost none of our visitors had ever before heard of tapeworms! All in all we enjoyed the entire event, the lively discussions and could further strengthen our team spirit and even recruit new people to our team!
What is a Science Slam?
The concept of Science Slams was developed in 2006 by German writer Alex Dreppec in Darmstadt. In only ten minutes, young scientists should present their work to a non-scientific audience in an informative and - most importantly - an entertaining way. And how to be entertaining is entirely up to the presenter: giving the most absurd examples? Excellent! You can even make a whole performance out of it - as long as it does not exceed ten minutes.
Diagnost-x takes the stage at the 57th Science Slam in the SO36 in Berlin
To us of course, the concept of "Science for everyone" is really important - after all, we're living proof that anyone, PhD or not, can be part of scientific development! That’s why in March 2017 we took the stage and presented our project to an audience of 500 people through a mixed presentation of acting (the common prejudices of either student projects of failing NTD research projects) and presenting (how we actually perform and build up our project). It was tremendous for us to see how many people and kids enjoyed the event and asked us more specific and detailed questions after our performance on stage!