UT partnership seeks to improve how scientists communicate with public

Updated Nov 18, 2015

The University of Texas and the State University of New York at Stony Brook announced a partnership Wednesday intended to help scientists and health professionals communicate more effectively with the public, the media and others outside their fields.

UT’s Moody College of Communication and Dell Medical School will work with Stony Brook’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science on research and curricula. The Alda Center is named for the actor who portrayed Army Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, the chief surgeon in the TV series “M*A*S*H” from a generation ago. Alda, a visiting professor and founding board member of the center that bears his name, also was the host of the PBS series “Scientific American Frontiers” for 13 years.

“UT-Austin will be an invaluable addition to our network of institutions as we work together to improve the ways in which science and medicine are communicated,” Alda said in a written statement.

Effective communication is essential for ensuring that scientific and health information is understood and acted upon by individuals as well as communities, said Jay Bernhardt, interim dean of the Moody College and founding director of its Center for Health Communication.

“Great doctors have to be great communicators, both with individual patients and with larger populations and the public,” said Sue Cox, executive vice dean for academics and chairwoman of medical education at the Dell School. “The partnership will help us build out our groundbreaking curriculum and prepare students to be physician leaders who are as comfortable taking on systemic challenges as they are caring for people.”