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Science Scribes Visit Johns Hopkins


“Sim Baby” codes, and science writers come to the rescue. (Photo: Zuhair Kareem)

Every year, several hundred science writers get together at a leading research university to learn about some of the big stories in science and medicine that will likely make headlines in the months to come. This year, that university was Johns Hopkins.

For four days in late October, the scribes, including some of the nation’s most influential print and broadcast journalists, Web writers, book authors and public information officers, learned about developments in physics, astronomy, planetary science, medicine and more by scientists from JHU and other institutions. They were in town for the workshops of the National Association of Science Writers, followed by the New Horizons in Science Briefing.

Sponsored by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, New Horizons featured formal presentations and visits to labs throughout the Johns Hopkins institutions. School of Medicine faculty joined the group for informal discussions over lunch. Professors Andrew Feinberg and Hal Dietz delivered presentations on epigenetics and Marfan syndrome, respectively. Radiologist Elliott Fishman and neurologist Doug Kerr hosted groups in their labs, and one small group previewed the new simulation center, slated to open in the Outpatient Center in April.

Director Betsy Hunt, a pediatric intensivist, explained that simulation can improve patient safety because it allows people to practice with medical technology. The writers themselves practiced on “Sim Baby,” a computer-controlled mannequin, who coded, complete with an abnormal heart rate, rapid breathing and lips that turned blue. The writers applied oxygen, checked pulses, gave air and delivered shocks—an unexpected lesson in resuscitation.

“Fascinating,” declared Corinna Wu, a freelance writer from Alexandria, Va. “Visiting Johns Hopkins has been an incredibly worthwhile experience.” 

Anne Bennett Swingle

 

 

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