REIsearch platform connects researchers with citizens, media and policymakers
Elsevier supports new science communication and collaboration network developed by Atomium to inform science-based policy making
By Iris Kisjes, Stephane Berghmans and Elizabeth Crossick Posted on 15 February 2016
The recent announcement by President Obama of the so-called “cancer moonshot” to cure cancer is a prime example of the importance of collaboration among policy makers, scientists, communicators and educators. These are the very pillars behind the new REIsearch platform created by Atomium - European Institute for Science, Media and Democracy (EISMD) and supported by Elsevier.
"Innovation and new scientific discoveries are improving people's lives and making our economy more competitive,” said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. “Science should be open and freed from its traditional ivory tower to be discussed, submitted to critique and fed with new perspectives. That's why I warmly welcome efforts such as the REIsearch initiative to get Europeans engaged in the debate about science and research and inspire fresh ideas about how to solve some of our society's most pressing problems."
The platform aims to:
- Create a responsible and informed multi-stakeholder debate on an issue affecting. millions of European citizens, researchers, policymakers and stakeholders.
- Create and promote access to reliable information on the issue.
- Increase international, inter-disciplinary and inter-sectorial debate.
- Bridge the gap between science, society and policy, also by involving the media.
REIsearch seeks to connect the experience of European Union citizens with the expertise of EU researchers to support policy makers with decisions that affect society.
In a joint statement, Atomium Honorary President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and President Michelangelo Baracchi Bonvicini said: “To win such an ambitious challenge together with our partners, we have opted for a gradual approach, aiming at developing initiatives linked to specific scientific topics starting with those of greatest impact, limiting the platform’s functions to the essential. In the coming years additional functionalities will be available, allowing citizens to directly interact with experienced researchers at both national and European level.”
Join the debate
The platform will function as a discussion hub on global societal issues. The first topic is chronic disease; discussions on aging, climate change and energy will follow. As the world’s population ages, the treatment, cure and prevention of chronic disease and its priority as a global challenge prompted its selection as the first initiative. The scope of the problem is enormous. In Europe, chronic disease affects more than 80 percent of Europeans over 65, and 10 percent of GDP is spent on health. Solutions need support from all sectors to be successful.
REIsearch’s ambition is to bridge the gap between research, policy and the public by providing a place where these members of the community can engage with each other and where the general public is given an opportunity to be part of the conversation about how chronic diseases should be managed. The public voice should ideally be a highly influential one when it comes to policies that impact local, regional and international issues such as chronic disease management.
The platform, which is currently receiving the majority of its funding from the European Commission, will be launched today in Austria, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Ireland, Poland and Luxembourg. It will be available in six languages: French, Italian, English, Polish, Portuguese and German.
Elsevier has been a key player in supporting the initiative, helping with funding and the platform itself, which has benefited from the use of Mendeley. Elsevier will help in the sharing of information to the public as well as driving researcher traffic to the REIsearch platform.
“Elsevier has a responsibility to support the research community,” said Elsevier CEO Ron Mobed. “In this case, we can serve by facilitating ways in which viewpoints and information about pressing global issues can be shared. It will be especially important to encourage researchers to participate in the dialogue with the public on the subject of chronic disease.”
While REIsearch is being launched in the EU, researchers from all parts of the world are encouraged to join the conversation. When the platform is live, short weekly questionnaires will encourage visitors to share their knowledge on key issues related to five subtopics. These five subtopics are:
- Prevention is the better cure (week of 15 Feb)
- New technologies and innovation (week of 22 Feb)
- Citizens’ rights and responsibilities (week of 29 Feb)
- Diabetes and nutrition (week of 7 March)
- More and better data (week of 14 March)
Researchers and the general public who would like to participate in REISearch forums on chronic disease can do so by visiting the platform: reisearch.eu
Elsevier Connect Contributors
Iris Kisjes (@Kisjes) has worked at Elsevier for seven years, the past four in communications. She is currently Senior Corporate Relations Manager, based in Amsterdam. She has a keen interest in the knowledge economy, especially in relation to the valorization of science and the longevity of the higher education system.
As VP of Academic & Research Relations, European Union, for Elsevier, Dr. Stephane Berghmans (@StefEurope) oversees EU strategic initiatives, partnerships, and stakeholder needs. He is a Doctor in Veterinary Medicine with a PhD in genetics and molecular biology. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, where he studied cancer at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He moved to the drug discovery biotech sector in 2004, first in Cambridge (UK) and then Portland, Oregon, as Director of Biology at Znomics Inc. He joined the European Science Foundation in 2009 to head the Biomedical Sciences Unit, managing the European Medical Research Councils (EMRC) and focusing on science policy and strategy. He joined the Global Academic & Research Relations team at Elsevier in 2013.
Elizabeth Crossick is a barrister by profession and joined the RELX Government Affairs Group three years ago as Head of EU Government Affairs, Brussels. She considers REISearch “an amazing opportunity for Europe to embrace and a perfect partner for Elsevier as both have as their mission, the communication and better understanding of science.”