The ABSW Awards sponsor on why they support good science writing:

by Seema Kumar, Vice President, Enterprise Innovation and Global Health Communication, Johnson & Johnson

It’s simple: We need good science communicators as much as we need good science.  Without reliable information—the explanation of fact, the exposure of challenges—science and the solutions it brings us could not exist.  Productive inquiry would run dry.  Frontiers would ebb.

Our company depends on people who can communicate hard science in lucid language, from the laboratory bench right through to those who engage directly with doctors.  We depend on them to get the science right, to check sources, interpret and clarify.  Their counsel helps guide our behaviour: promoting sound policies and sparking new discoveries.  They bring ideas to life, inspire innovation and collaboration and encourage engagement with Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine in a world that demands educated, informed decision makers.  We, Johnson & Johnson and the public, could not effectively govern ourselves or make progress for the benefit of the doctors, nurses, patients and customers we serve otherwise.

When Dr. Paul Janssen, our pharmaceutical company’s namesake, was alive and still heading our research and development operations, he would make a daily circuit around the labs asking each researcher his celebrated catch-phrase-cum-call to action, “What’s new?”  Connecting ideas (in his head) and people (in his labs), Dr. Paul became one of the most productive medical innovators and drug discoverers of the 20th century, helping to develop over 80 new medicines—and, in so doing, helping to save or improve the lives of countless people across the globe.  More than anything else it was Dr. Paul’s powerful curiosity, robust intellect, and disregard for traditional boundaries that built the business that today proudly bears his name.  Anything that fosters the qualities he exemplified ought to be promoted.

That’s why we are supporters of the World Conference of Science Journalists and the Association of British Science Writers Awards.  It’s why we attend the American Association for the Advancement of Science Congress annually and maintain relationships with journalists and bloggers, in the interest of being open and transparent.  It’s why we participate in the Euroscience Media Committee and host a science journalism internship program, to prop early career science reporters on their feet.  We recognize this isn’t just about pharmaceuticals, devices, or consumer products.  It’s about science—humankind’s best bet in the pursuit of truth, knowledge and good health.  It is impossible to overstate the importance of accurate, evidence-based, trustworthy data grounded in reproducible experiments.  Good science writing conveys that.

Misinformation, on the other hand, can be crippling.  In DNA, a molecule particularly important to our industry (not to mention, to life itself), mutations on the level of a single base pairout of three billion can have grave repercussions.  It can affect a patient’s response to a drug, or how a pathogen interacts with the body.   Similarly even minor errors in science communications can also have grave repercussions, not the very least of it is a misinformed public and society.

The world needs more effective science communicators just as much as it needs more pioneering scientists.  Dr. Paul, the visionary whom we were fortunate enough to have lead us, was a rare blend of both.  His spirit still imbues us.  We are not afraid to share ideas.  To rise to new challenges.  To collaborate, innovate and go beyond.  Ultimately, our sponsorship of good science communication extends Dr. Paul’s legacy—reframing his rallying call “What’s new?” into an informed public discourse for our betterment.  We do it because it’s simply the right thing to do.

About Johnson & Johnson

Caring for the world, one person at a time…inspires and unites the people of Johnson & Johnson. We embrace research and science -- bringing innovative ideas, products and services to advance the health and well-being of people. Our approximately 128,000 employees at more than 275 Johnson & Johnson operating companies work with partners in health care to touch the lives of over a billion people every day, throughout the world. For more information about Johnson & Johnson visit: www.jnj.com.