Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Meet Lisan Parker, PhD, Scientific Liaison

Today we're profiling Lisan Parker, PhD, who works as a Scientific Liaison.

NV: What do you do?

Lisan: My most current role has been Scientific Liaison between the Global Alliance for Tuberculosis Drug Development (TB alliance) and the WHO Stop TB Partnership Working Group on New Drugs. I serve as secretariat for the Working Group on New Drugs. I help with our mission… my goal is to increase collaboration & networking between industry, academia, and government, and at the same time to increase TB drug research and development (R&D) awareness by tracking and TB R&D.

This is different for me because I have a background in neuroscience. However, entering into global health has been an exciting and great experience. I’ve learned a lot, in terms of what are the needs and advocacy plays a big role in that.

NV: How did you get started in outreach/advocacy?

Lisan: I started doing outreach when I was in graduate school. I realized that there was and is a lack of understanding or appreciation in the general community of what scientists do and there is a lack of scientists trying to explain to the general community and gain that understanding.

In Tennessee I worked with other graduate and medical students to provide the HIV education component to the school curriculum in Nashville junior high and high schools. It was a lot of fun and a good learning experience. It was an opportunity for us to be involved in the community and show kids what they can be and at same time give them information on their health and help them learn.

When I was a post doctorate I was involved in an outreach mentoring program with Rhodes College and St. Judes Children’s Hospital. That was a science based outreach program and its goal was to increase science learning and science excellence, particular for minority students.

When I went into industry, apart from my regular duties, I became co-director for our community outreach program. We partnered with Citizen Schools in Boston. My work colleagues and I created a science discovery class for junior high students called CSI (Citizen Schools Investigators) that taught them how to use science to solve a crime. Our goal was to help young students realize science is understandable, approachable, and that they can do it. And also to provide scientists an opportunity to get out of the lab and make an impact in the community.

NV: What motivates you to do advocacy?

Lisan: Wanting the general public to understand why they should care. Why what we do is important and how it affects them. The reverse is also important. Scientists need to understand what the public needs and how to communicate that.

NV: How much time do you spend doing outreach and advocacy?

Lisan: As Secretariat, I do more advocacy utilizing our new TB drugs website, in January of this year when I started, my predecessor had laid ground work for a blog to be used to increase scientific discussion for TB R&D. The mission is to bring everyone to the table. We hoped to increase/jumpstart that communication. We post to the website twice a week and I go out and send emails to people or contact scientists to do face to face interviews and we intend to also provide future podcasts through our website. There are lots of different ways to collect the message of why we need TB drugs and the impact of current regiments and we attempt to capture that on our blog. We also use other social media outlets such as linked-in and a Facebook causes page to spread our message and increase awareness of TB.

Thank you to Lisan for giving us her time via phone so we could learn more about her and her career.

This is part of the ongoing Profiling New Voices series.

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