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Subject: ETHI: Science and PR
From: Hans Goerl <GENETHICS@delphi.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 20:33:21 -0400

Last week, a research team at Stonybrook announced the discovery of high
levels of mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase levels in biopsied human
breast tumor cells. News of the finding was given widespread media
coverage, and heralded as a major breakthrough in cancer science.
Apparently, the release of the news was orchestrated, in part, by a
public relations firm.

Scientists often complain about inaccurate and exaggerated media
coverage of science news. Yet if scientists work with public relations
firms to release scientific "news," are scientists not also responsible
for contributing to inaccurate reporting by the media? Doesn't working
with public relations firms taint the quality of the science, making it
seem like just another product that has to be sold on the market? Do
really important discoveries need Madison Avenue to become well known,
understood and critically evaluated? Do grant reviewers and budget
directors really take press coverage into account when making financial
decisions? What would a great scientist like Darwin, who sat on his
discovery for decades before releasing it, think of this practice?

I am interested in hearing the thoughts of other members of the medical and
scientific community.

Robert Resta
Center for Perinatal Studies
Swedish Medical Center Seattle

The views expressed are not necessarily those of Swedish Medical Center
or the Center for Perinatal Studies.

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