Artist Cooperative Social Media Marketing

Artist Cooperative Social Media Marketing

blogscreenshotThe Project: Leverage the power of social media to increase community awareness for a local artist cooperative.

The Details: Non-profits, by their very nature, need to account for every penny. This is why social media makes so much sense for small organizations. afmtext advised a twice-weekly blog posting schedule with sharing via Facebook and Twitter to boost web presence in addition to the cooperative’s web site. A Blogger blog template was adapted, social media accounts integrated with autoposting on all channels, and a posting schedule implemented. Within 12 months, coop profits had risen by over 25%. afmtext continues to oversee a small social media team of coop members, integrating social media content with marketing efforts through MailChimp newsletters, and creating regular content.

Blackberry Artists.

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Tri-City Family Place | Welcome to Tri-City Family Place

Tri-City Family Place | Welcome to Tri-City Family Place

The Project: Move a non-profit parenting resource from its old website to a new, manageable web content management system, integrating newsletter and mailing lists.

The Details: Tri-City Family Place (TCFP), a local non-profit that runs an informal drop-in paly centre for local families, was facing a problem. It’s old web provider was going out of business and TCFP didn’t have the time or resources to create a new web presence. After interviewing staff, afmtext advised moving to a WordPress.com site that would be easy for administrators to edit and provide all resources for users. Content was copied from the old site, edited and brought up-to-date, and transferred to the (free) WordPress template. Domain registration, linking to MailChimp and user training now mean that TCFP is self-managing its own website with minor oversight from afmtext.

Tri-City Family Place | Welcome to Tri-City Family Place.

Proteomics and Bioterrorism – Identifying Anthrax Biomarkers  

Chenau et al. (2013) present a combined proteomics and genomics approach that solves this identification problem. By comparing the anthrax spores with examples from environmentally relevant and related species from theBacillus genus, they have isolated 11 proteins unique to B. anthracis that show good potential for rapid identification of the species.1

Proteomics and Bioterrorism – Identifying Anthrax Biomarkers  .

website design: PoMo ArtsFest

website design: PoMo ArtsFest

2014-02-19 22.28.09The Project: Select and customize a Joomla 3.x template for use by PoMo ArtsFest organizers, with social media and online ticket sales integration.

The Details: From start to online launch, the website took a little over two weeks to complete. This included content editing, creation and placement, social media integration, setting up and linking a Google calendar for the program schedule, research and integration for online ticket sales and box office, and setting up page templates for onward staff maintenance. Once launched, afmtext continued to provide ongoing maintenance and editing, adding and formatting sponsor logos as local businesses came on board.

With Thanks: to the organizers of PoMo ArtsFest for trusting afmtext with such an amazing project, and to Laurelle for ongoing technical advice and wizardry.

afm text services

afm text services

business card writer blankfreelance writing/communications | content creation (web, print) | social media and website setup | arts & science | document design

A digital space explorer, engaging readers by translating complex theories and subjects creatively into everyday language.

For freelance services please check afm text for details.

Which Orbitrap? Mass Spectrometry for the Bewildered – Accelerating Science

Which Orbitrap? Mass Spectrometry for the Bewildered – Accelerating Science

Ion injection into an Orbitrap mass analyzer, showing the rf injector ion trap and the Orbitrap electrostatic ion trap. Path of ions is symbolized by red lines. Insets show the potential variation on the central electrode during ion injection and a signal that would be detected between the outer electrodes after ion injection.

Ion injection into an Orbitrap mass analyzer, showing the rf injector ion trap and the Orbitrap electrostatic ion trap.
Path of ions is symbolized by red lines.
Insets show the potential variation on the central electrode during ion injection and a signal that would be detected between the outer electrodes after ion injection.

Written for the Examining Food blog for food safety laboratories and staff as part of my ongoing copywriting for Thermo Scientific.

Which Orbitrap? Mass Spectrometry for the Bewildered – Accelerating Science.

Imago Mundi – Florabundance by Amanda Maxwell

in case you were wondering … this is my entry in the Imago Mundi collection for Western Canada – the exhibition opens this August (please stop by and say Hi to florabundance if you’re passing thru Venice at the time). Imago Mundi is the art collection of works commissioned and collected by Luciano Benetton on his travels around the world, involving, on a voluntary and non-profit basis, established and emerging artists from many different countries.

Source: Imago Mundi – Florabundance by Amanda Maxwell

Meet Canada’s Blood-Typing Pioneers | Canadian Blood Services

Innovation150 series: As Canada celebrates 150 years we look back on Canadian innovations in transfusion medicine over the years. A series of posts over the next few weeks feature remarkable Canadian progress — past, present and future. #Innovation150.

Source: Meet Canada’s Blood-Typing Pioneers | Canadian Blood Services

Written under subcontract to Talk Science To Me for Canadian Blood Services

Wartime Service and Canadian Transfusion Medicine | Canadian Blood Services

Innovation150 series: As Canada celebrates 150 years we look back on Canadian innovations in transfusion medicine over the years. A series of posts over the next few weeks feature remarkable Canadian progress — past, present and future. #Innovation150.

Source: Wartime Service and Canadian Transfusion Medicine | Canadian Blood Services

Dr. Lawrence Bruce Robertson and blood transfusion in the trenches of World War I | Canadian Blood Services

Innovation150 series on the RED blog: As Canada celebrates 150 years we look back on Canadian innovations in transfusion medicine over the years. A series of posts over the next few weeks feature remarkable Canadian progress in transfusion medicine past, present and future. #Innovation150.

Source: Dr. Lawrence Bruce Robertson and blood transfusion in the trenches of World War I | Canadian Blood Services

Do you accept the quest? – Reading and understanding a science paper – Talk Science to Me

Science papers—the everyday tales of slaying research dragons and finding buried treasures. Not just for stereotyped nerds in white coats, or wild-haired Einstein lookalikes. You can read them too. With the rise in open access publishing, more are available to lay readers outside academia’s ivory towers. But what are they all about? And why would you want to read one? Firstly, there are two types of science papers: primary research, where excited doctoral students and their senior advisors showcase their latest research and launch it into the international science world, and reviews, which round up current knowledge and up-to-date thinking in one subject area. Although the reviews give a broad overview of the current state of scientific play, the primary research papers are the ones that generate the excitement with their sensational headlines. And this is the reason you might want to take a peek at the primary source material itself—is the headline a fair summary of the paper? Is the press release an accurate Read More

Source: Do you accept the quest? – Reading and understanding a science paper – Talk Science to Me

Jason bringing Pelias the Golden Fleece. Marie-Lan Nguyen, 2006 (Public Domain)Science papers—the everyday tales of slaying research dragons and finding buried treasures. Not just for stereotyped nerds in white coats, or wild-haired Einstein lookalikes. You can read them too. With the rise in open access publishing, more are available to lay readers outside academia’s ivory towers.

But what are they all about? And why would you want to read one?

Firstly, there are two types of science papers: primary research, where excited doctoral students and their senior advisors showcase their latest research and launch it into the international science world, and reviews, which round up current knowledge and up-to-date thinking in one subject area. Although the reviews give a broad overview of the current state of scientific play, the primary research papers are the ones that generate the excitement with their sensational headlines.

And this is the reason you might want to take a peek at the primary source material itself—is the headline a fair summary of the paper? Is the press release an accurate representation of the research?

Although daunting to non-scientists (and also to scientists not working in the field itself—just because we’re scientists doesn’t mean we understand every little bit of science), they’re not difficult to read, though it might take a little time. However, even real scientists go through a research paper several times, making notes and paying attention to comprehension. So you’re not slow or dim or uneducated if you need to read it more than once.

What is a primary research paper?

Primary research papers draw together a project or sub-project, announcing its results to a waiting audience of peers. They are usually submitted to and published by peer-reviewed journals, where the editorial process involves close scrutiny by experts active in the field. They make suggestions on style, writing quality and content; criticise experimental design and data analysis; correct errors; and request clarification, revision or even extra experiments before publication.

Why write primary research papers?

Glory? Staking a claim? Announcing an earth-shattering piece of scientific news? Documenting the process?

All of the abovea publication is the equivalent of a news piece announcing experimental results, and it also establishes ownership or primacy. A doctoral student may need a certain number of publications for a thesis. Publication is often a requirement for grant funding, academic tenure and general career advancement.

What’s inside?

Primary research papers usually start with an abstract, then move into the introduction, materials and methods, and results, ending with a discussion of the work’s significance. A list of references, listing all the papers consulted in designing the experiment and analysing the results, follows, and there may be some kind of disclosure regarding affiliations, funding and so on. A beginning, a middle and an end.

Where do I start?

The abstract is an obvious place to start, but bewarethis part is the foreword, the marketing paragraph designed to pull the reader in with all the juicy bits. It is a summary, highlighting all the key findings and usually with a tightly restricted word count. This is where you can see if the subject interests youjust don’t stop here.

Move on to the introduction, where the scientists answer the “Why?” behind their experiments. What made them research this particular problem in this particular way? Introductions usually summarise background material, giving a history of research in the subject and the reasoning behind a scientist’s interest. This is where you will find their quest, what makes them tick as a researcher. Look closely; there is nearly always a plot to follow.

Materials and methods is where you find out “how,” and it may seem like it is written in a completely foreign language…these are merely the tools a scientist takes on the quest, a little like some of the awesome text-driven role-playing games of early internet years. For “96-well plate,” read lump of coal, or short sword. They help get the job done, though might not be so good at fighting off dragons.

Fluorescent phalloidin (red) marking actin filaments in endothelial cells. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by Splette, 2006 (Public Domain)The results section is where you find out what happened on the quest itself. There will be lots of numbers, graphs, percentages and statistical analysis. If you’re lucky there will also be cool MRI scans, pictures of fungal growth and fluorescently labelled cells, and invertebrates . It can also be where the story gets excitingwhat dragons were vanquished during the quest? If odd results come up or something didn’t work, the research team needs to find out why and explain how they accomplished this. With a well-written paper, knowing the methodology is unimportantthere is a definite beauty in the logical flow of a well-designed experiment when the writer takes the time to explain why step A follows step B and leads into step C. Each stage enhances the results in the previous, rounding out the research and complementing the experimental design…it reads like an expertly crafted narrative with plot development at every turn.

And on to the finale! Discussions can be useful, adding more knowledge and insight into the results. Alternatively, this section can be a deathly dull listing of “we found this; it does that” statements. A well-written paper places the experimental results within a broader context, giving them relevance and personality. This is where the research team shows that they understand the true meaning of their quest, whether they accomplished it or not. Has the True Meaning been discovered or is more questing required?the authors should say so, rather than exaggerate false claims or inflate their findings. The final paragraph should be a neat summary and conclusion leaving the reader replete, satisfied and somewhat more knowledgeable than when they started.

So, how do I know if a paper is valid?

This is tricky. Unless you’re active within the field or have a good grasp of experimental design and statistical analysis, you probably won’t be able to analyse it in depth. But there are things you can pick up on that might give you a clue.

Does the abstract (or the press release) accurately reflect what is in the paper and the authors’ conclusions in the discussion?

Check out the referencesdepending on the uniqueness of the research, the following questions may be justified: Do the references seem valid? How recent are they? How many sources have the authors consulted, or do they just stick with their own work? Are they citing credible journals?

And the disclosureHow valid is a study on glucose-fructose funded by a large soft drinks manufacturer? Is the research sponsored by a strong advocacy group? Where is the grant from? Who does the senior author (usually the last person listed as an author) work for?

So next time you see a sensational headline announcing that if more people did XYZ then they wouldn’t die from diseases A, B or C, have a look for the primary source material and translate it for yourself.

Further reading

Getting your hands on primary research papers:
Open access publishers like Public Library of Science, PLOS ONE and eLife are a ready source of peer-reviewed primary research papers. Other publishers may also make papers available online without requiring subscription or erecting a paywall. Your library subscription (academic or public) often gives access to papers for free if you don’t want to purchase access. Googling the paper’s title sometimes works too.

How to read a science papersome great advice below:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-raff/how-to-read-and-understand-a-scientific-paper_b_5501628.html

http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/top_science-fair_how_to_read_a_scientific_paper.shtml

Reading critiques of research papers
Want to see how scientists analyse published research results? Learning from professionals in action is a good way to hone your own observational skills. Check out the PubMed Health home page from the National Library of Medicine, or pay a visit to the UK’s National Health Services Behind the Headlines service.

Check out Ben Goldacre’s acerbic takedowns of bad science in The Guardian.

Spotting errors
As mentioned, this is difficult, but if you’d like to learn more about appropriate application of statistical analysis, try Lior Prachter’s blog. And if you like infographics, Compound Interest’s Everyday Exploration of Chemical Compounds blog has a great poster, A Rough Guide to Spotting Bad Science.

 

The post’s author reviews two to three primary research and review papers each week, distilling the storyline into engaging summaries for one of Talk Science To Me’s clients, Go Communicate, over on Accelerating Science. After a year and more than 100 reviews, Amanda feels confident that she can find the hidden narrative behind any protein chemistry paper or food safety technique.

A new era for thalidomide? – Talk Science to Me

Thalidomide has a tragic history, but it’s still being used today in ways that point to future success in the world of clinical medicine.

Source: A new era for thalidomide? – Talk Science to Me

By Hrodmar [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia CommonsI’d like to stretch the coincidence theme once more on the blog, so bear with me as I wander through some random but connected happenings from my own world of science communications.

Thalidomide.

What do you think of when you hear the name of this drug? What images come to mind?

If you’re a certain age, I’m sure that images of babies born with missing limbs or flipper-like appendages instead of arms or legs flash in front of you. Middle-aged adults may hold childhood memories of growing up around these kids, pointing to them in the street. Older women may shudder, thinking how close they came to taking the as-then wonderdrug that deformed so many lives in the late 1950s and early 1960s. For youngsters, it may just be a sad episode in modern medicine (if they’ve heard of it at all).

For me, thalidomide is the bogey-drug, the medication taken oh-so-innocently that blighted the lives of kids only a few years older than myself. It was available as a sleeping aid and morning sickness preventative around the same time my parents married and considered starting a family.

Thalidomide means tragedy; it means bad science; it means lack of protection from the pharmaceutical industry and policy-makers; it means danger.

But I’ve found recently that thalidomide also means change, it means hope, and it means pharmaceutical success—not quite the bogey-drug I thought, perhaps.

Change

Back in August of this year, a news clipping caught my eye on my RSS reader. “FDA scientist who kept thalidomide off the market dies,” the headline read. Coming from the United Kingdom, I had automatically assumed that thalidomide was a global tragedy. As I read the news story, I learned that the United States had been largely spared, thanks mostly to the stubbornness of one scientist who refused again and again to approve licensing for thalidomide. The scientist, Frances Oldham Kelsey, was not only Canadian, but a woman. I clipped the story into Evernote and tagged it #Ada Lovelace Day.

What Kelsey did was refuse to take the drug company appeals at face value. She used her training and experience to ask for further details. Then, suspicious of the facts presented, kept denying approval. Once it was firmly linked with phocomelia, the birth defects experienced by thousands of children in Europe, thalidomide was withdrawn from the market and banned in 1962. Kelsey’s vigilance and professionalism in dealing with thalidomide paved the way for many of the stricter drug safety measures that protect consumers today.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/video/players/offsite/index.html?videoId=100000002455842

Hope

Around the same time as I researched my Ada Lovelace Day post, I was also reviewing a paper on proteomics that dealt with a new strategy for destroying errant proteins and thus preventing cancer. Winter et al. (2015) targeted BRD4, a protein involved in activation of the C-Myc oncogene, an intracellular switch that can push cellular activity into cancer.1 The researchers found that by combining thalidomide with an experimental compound, they could tag BRD4 with a pharmaceutical “black spot” and sweep it into the cell proteasome for accelerated destruction. Not only did this strategy work well in the petri dish, but Winter et al. could also decrease the size and abundance of tumours in mice xenografted with human tumour cells by treating the animals with the drug conjugate.

This was the first time I had encountered a mention of thalidomide as a modern-day drug, so I did some hunting to find out if this was a unique occurrence.

Well, it wasn’t. In the mid-1960s, clinicians started using thalidomide to treat painful skin lesions in leprosy. Quite by accident, they found that alongside giving their patients a good night’s sleep, thalidomide also cleared up erythema nodosum leprosum. Then, research into cancer treatments that rely on disrupting the blood supply to tumours showed that thalidomide might indeed be useful. In 1998, the drug was finally approved for use in the United States…but with strict controls to prevent another tragedy.

Success

Then another proteomics paper to review landed in my inbox: “Lenalidomide induces ubiquitination and degradation of CK1a in del(5q) MDS.”2 This one heralded a success story for a thalidomide derivative, lenalidomide, which has been used very successfully to treat patients with a form of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), del(q5) MDS. This MDS is a leukemia caused by the deletion of a region of chromosome q5. A shortage of the products encoded by one of the genes in this region renders affected cells incredibly sensitive to phthalimide drugs like lenalidomide.

As the research team, Krönke and co-authors, investigated the mechanisms behind this outstanding success, they found that the thalidomide derivative seemed to act once more by targeting the protein into proteasomal destruction. [reviewed here]

Furthermore, during their investigations in mice, they found that they could only replicate this effect when a certain human protein was added back into the experimental animals. This, they suggested, could explain why some of the initial research back in the 1950s failed to show the horrendous drug side effects that blighted so many families.

Future?

When I need to find out about medical research, drug information or experimental breakthroughs, I head to PubMed, the U.S. National Library of Medicine search engine that looks through the whole of the MEDLINE database of life science and biomedical topics. Simply typing “thalidomide” as a search term currently returns over 9,000 articles spread over the last 55 years.

While the first 5 years of thalidomide’s catalogue on MEDLINE mostly represent the dreadful exposure of its mutagenic effects and issues surrounding drug safety during pregnancy, more than two-thirds of records come from therapeutic success in the last 15 years.

Today, thalidomide is one of the most stringently controlled drugs available, with safeguards in place to protect developing fetuses. Unfortunately, this protection is not 100 per cent effective, and children affected by thalidomide continue to be born. Stronger controls are definitely needed.

However, the scope of the thalidomide family of drugs is only just being explored by medical science. Although the mechanisms by which thalidomide and its derivatives work explain its early tragic history, they also point to future success in the world of clinical medicine, with the ability to improve lives rather than damage them irreparably.

 

References

  1. Winter, George E., Dennis L. Buckley, Joshiawa Paulk, Justin M. Roberts, Amanda Souza, Sirano Dhe-Paganon, and James E. Bradner. 2015. “Phthalimide conjugation as a Strategy for in vivo Target Protein Degradation,” Science 348(6241):1376–81. doi: 10.1126/science.aab1433.
  2. Krönke, Jan, Emma C. Fink, Paul W. Hollenbach, Kyle J. MacBeth, Slater N. Hurst, Namrata D. Udeshi, Philip P. Chamberlain, D. R. Mani, Hon Wah Man, Anita K. Gandhi, Tanya Svinkina, Rebekka K. Schneider, Marie McConkey, Marcus Järås, Elizabeth Griffiths, Meir Wetzler, Lars Bullinger, Brian E. Cathers, Steven A. Carr, Rajesh Chopra, and Benjamin L. Ebert. 2015. “Lenalidomide Induces Ubiquitination and Degradation of CK1a in del(5q) MDS,” Nature 523: 183–188. doi:10.1038/nature14610.