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BRUTx explores new science conference format

BRUTx attendees listen to one of 12 speakers give a presentation modeled after TEDxTalks. Credit: Sherry Shi / For The Lantern

BRUTx attendees listen to one of 12 speakers give a presentation modeled after TEDxTalks. Credit: Sherry Shi / For The Lantern

The Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science held its first TEDx-inspired event called BRUTx at the Ohio Union on Sept. 29, establishing a new type of scientific meeting on campus.

BRUTx 2015, which showcased the transformational clinical and translational biomedical science at OSU, introduced a new format.

This CCTS annual meeting differed from past meetings. The speakers were asked to engage their audience through storytelling and personal experience, differing from traditional scientific conferences.

“Presentations this year were shorter than in years past, and did not follow the format of a traditional scientific talk,” said Randi Foraker, professor in the College of Public Health, who was one of the speakers at BRUTx and an attendee of past CCTS meetings. “On the stage at BRUTx, there was no podium and no speakers’ notes.”

“The selection process for the speakers was competitive,” said Philip Payne, professor in the College of Public Health.

An announcement was made asking people to propose their ideas to show the impacts of translational science in the storytelling format.

The CCTS then had a multi-faceted review process with experts throughout the entire campus where they selected a third of the total number of submissions.

“We really prioritize those submissions where people have compelling stories that really spoke to our three main themes for the meeting,” Payne said.

The CCTS featured 12 speakers representing seven colleges and topics from both the university and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The event focused on three main themes: innovation, implementation and impact in translational science.

Payne said the selected speakers were connected with a coach, who is a TEDx speaker consultant, having expertise and experience in giving speeches.

The coach worked with them over a period of several weeks, to help them improve their presentations and try to connect with the audience by telling a story instead of simply describing scientific research with its methods and results.

“I did enjoy the presentation in this style,” Foraker said. “In my field, scientific presentations are very boring. With this style, you can just really get the same idea across but capture the audience in a unique way.”

Payne said they treated this year’s meeting as a “granted” experiment.

“It seems to be very popular and we are getting a lot of positive feedback,” Payne said. “People are very excited about the stories. So I would imagine you will see meetings that looks a lot like this in the future.

Payne said a lot of people have a general idea about what clinical translational research is, but they do not know how to engage in it. He said people might not understand how to make that leap from an idea to an original research, to an implementation and to affecting the real world.

We help connect the dots between the science that the faculty were engaged in with stories about how they impacted individuals, their families and communities,” Payne said. “So the meeting really talks about emotional connection around the research.”

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