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Inside the Lab Profession, Training and education, Laboratory management

The Missing Act

As some of you know, The Pathologist is headquartered near Manchester, England – a city that hosted its 12th annual science festival in October. As always, I perused the program, selected far too many events, and then attended as many as I could. I heard (and saw) a synesthetic concert that used technology to render the music of a string quartet as colored light. I visited a pop-up museum of natural and medical curiosities from science past and present (some of which you may have seen on Twitter). I simulated an electric storm, mined blockchain currency, pedal-powered a blender to make myself a smoothie, and even pitted household appliances against one another in a battle royale.

But no matter how hard I scrutinized the schedule, I couldn’t find anything showcasing the hard work that goes on in biomedical research and clinical laboratories. Where was the insight into today’s disease research? The diagnosis and treatment of cancer, dementia, and other maladies that touch almost every life either directly or indirectly? Where was the awareness of the essential role of laboratory professionals?

Some might protest that the event was squarely aimed at children and families. But that’s exactly my point – if we aren’t telling current and future patients about pathology and laboratory medicine, how can we expect them to know who lies behind their diagnosis? If laboratorians don’t have the opportunity to introduce themselves to their future colleagues early, how can we be surprised when they choose a different career path?

Luckily, the story doesn’t end here. The annual science festival – as its name suggests – will be back again next year, and the year after that, and the year after that… Hopefully, those future festivals will make room for laboratory medicine – and its practitioners will take up the challenge and introduce their discipline to a new generation of potential pathologists and laboratory medicine professionals.

Are you involved in outreach and engagement activities? Do you work with the general public to further their understanding of pathology? Tell us about your work ([email protected]) – we’d love to help spread the word about your efforts!

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