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Goals of a Social Networking Symposium for NIH Staff

STEP: Staff Training in Extramural Programs

AIDS.gov note: Earlier this month, AIDS.gov presented an overview on using new and social media to approximately 400 Federal staff from the National Institutes of Health. (The session was offered both live and via webcast.) We applaud NIH’s commitment to providing ongoing educational opportunities for their staff.

forum panel memebers

Megan Morena, Janice Nall, Miguel Gomez

To learn more about the event itself, Marina Broitman, from the National Institutes of Health, provided her assessment:

It’s challenging to keep up with the lingo and the technology provided by the Internet and new media environments. Experts talk about the immense opportunity for commerce and knowledge transfer — how can scientists get in on the action?

At the National Institutes of Health, the Staff Training in Extramural Programs, or STEP, set out to answer this question and spur new thinking about how social media can aid NIH’s mission, which is “science in pursuit of fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.”

The goal of the STEP committee is to organize forums that can provide scientific training, administrative strategies, and science in the public interest for the extramural staff who develop, run, and evaluate grant programs. To meet that goal, STEP organized a forum on March 9, 2010 to present information on three different potential uses of social media for public health research:

  • Disseminating/communicating new research and health information
  • Developing interventions in social media contexts
  • Scientific collaboration across disciplines, universities, and even countries

The forum was a tremendous success! Janice Nall, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented many terms and concepts, showing how widgets, mobile technology, microblogs, etc., have been used in public health campaigns. Miguel Gomez, from AIDS.gov, showed how many of these technologies are being used to disseminate new Federal policies, data, and connections to multiple information sources.

Megan Moreno Exit Disclaimer, from the University of Wisconsin, presented data she has collected with NIH funding on adolescent and young adult high-risk behaviors on MySpace and Facebook. Brad Hesse from the National Cancer Institute introduced us to scientific collaboratories – providing online communication and collaboration among scientists. And Daniel Sands, Chief Information Security Officer at NIH, explained why Federal employees are restricted from using many of these media technologies, and talked about how the Federal government is trying to develop new security measures.

There was some significant tweeting going on during the forum – you can take a look at the tweets @STEP_SocMedia Exit Disclaimer or #nihstep Exit Disclaimer.

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