Finally, We Can Grow Spines: Stem Cells on Twitter

Saturday, 14 February 2015: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Room LL21A (San Jose Convention Center)
Julie M. Robillard, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
The rapid advancement of stem cell research is fueling hope for the treatment of conditions with currently limited treatment such as spinal cord injuries (SCI) and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson disease (PD). As modes of communication are evolving, conversations about these advances and the hopes they fuel are increasingly taking place online and in social media. Research shows that a growing portion of patients, families and health care providers are turning to the Internet and to mobile applications to seek information about stem cells. Little is known, however, about the content and quality of information that is shared among these stakeholders through popular social media platforms such as Twitter. To address this gap, we examined empirically: (i) Twitter users who share information about stem cells and SCI or PD, (ii) sources of information that are promoted, and (iii) main themes that dominate the discussion. This talk will describe the results from this work and lay the groundwork for a set of recommendations about communication about stem cells specifically, and biomedical research more broadly, for the wide landscape of existing and growing information-sharing platforms.