of the project
The active involvement of citizens is today at the core of many international initiatives where effective cooperation between science and society is at play. This is particularly true when it comes to biomedical research, which increasingly addresses the general public and patients (Beltrame et al, 2019). Biobanks have become an increasingly important means of biomedical research and innovation. It represents a significant pillar of predictive, preventive and personalised medicine approach to patient health care and contributes to the early diagnosis and best treatments, for the past 20 years (Kinkorova, 2021). However, the success of biobanks depends on the willingness and trust of large numbers of individuals and diverse communities to researchers access detailed medical and genetic information (Tzortzatou & Siapka,2021).
Institutions worldwide have recognised the value and benefits of community engagement in health prevention, research and policy initiatives (Burke et al, 2006). Donating tissue samples and personal data for unknown research purposes at the time when data and samples are collected is one of the main characteristics of biobanking research. This requires that all volunteers are aware of the benefits and the contribution of biobanking to bettering the lives of all, as well as of the aims of biobanking in order to demonstrate confidentiality and trust in the procedures (Porteri et al, 2014). Nowadays, despite these identified needs and challenges, there is a lack of awareness of the public on the impact that biobanks can have on their well-being. The ill-equipped scientists and students to build bonds of trust between themselves and the citizens and transfer their work to the general public are one of the main reasons for the absence of a well-informed public (Tozzo et al, 2017). That’s why the training and education they receive mainly focus on the prediction of reproducible and solid research, rather than communicating their research results to the public and promoting social engagement. Also, they are not informed on how to spread the message through their social networks, and sometimes they do not have the time or are confused about which is the best social means for dissemination.
Despite these global trends, the available training courses focusing on how to communicate biobanking issues to citizens are still very limited, mainly focused on practical know-how; issues related to data management and sharing; legal and ethical issues; etc, but they cannot be described in terms of education in science outreach (Beltrame et al, 2018). Thus, there is an increased need to develop a training program for young scientists and students that will cultivate their communication skills and offer them innovative mechanisms to attract people’s interest in biobanking, change public attitudes, and inform them of how their data and biological material are handled from the very beginning to the very end (who has access, how those data can be used).
Identify the needs and communication gaps between the general public and science in co-design focus groups and built a bridge by co-developing innovative, attractive tools of awareness like the Serious game (SG) and the specific lessons in the course. In this way, SCIBIOEU will enhance civic engagement and create innovative learning practices adapted to people’s needs.
Support people and society to better understand the aims of science and its
usefulness in their lives and thus change attitudes, enhance preventive approaches, early and precise diagnosis-focused treatment, and their well-being.
Support students and scientists especially those who are at the beginning of their
careers by co-developing with them a course, materials, and tools for
public awareness adapted to their needs.
Go beyond the simple dissemination of basic information in science communication by focusing on cultivating the communication skills of scientists and students and creating innovative material for public awareness.
Develop a platform that can be easily integrated into Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and other institutions’ platforms.
Support teaching methods of HEIs and other institutions by offering appropriate training courses, new tools, and learning materials and thus building more inclusive higher education systems with opportunities for all students to be well-equipped scientists.
Build transnational teaching programs which will use knowledge and experiences from a variety of disciplines, and combine local and global considerations.
Enhance cooperation between different sectors, like HEIs and research institutions.
Influence the educational system of HEIs and other relevant institutions by adapting new lessons and methods. This new course will not offer only new knowledge to trainees, but also will give useful and alternative techniques of teaching to trainers.
Enhance the collaborative manner in educational methods. The SCIBIOEU platform will enable students, young scientists, and professors from different countries to work together and support each other.
The project is divided into 5 different WPs including different activities and tasks.
These WPs lead to the following main 4 outcomes:
The “SCIBIOEU course” focuses on the Science Outreach of biobanking including training on communication methods and cultivating students’ and young scientists’ skills in science outreach.
An “E-learning platform” including the course that can be easily integrated into Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)’ platforms.
An innovative and attractive “Serious Game on biobanking” as an effective tool for public awareness and training in biobanking issues.
A practical digital Guideline Handbook called “Best Practice Guidelines for Science Outreach” focuses on the best practice guidelines for science outreach.
Students (who will be the future scientists) of relevant fields (Departments of Medicine, Biology, etc); this course will be part of a wider academic course and will be integrated into the curriculum of relevant HEIs.
Scientists – and especially those who are at the beginning of their careers- working in national or regional health institutions, hospitals, health care and research centers, scientific societies, or professional associations.
Professors of HEIs, of a different variety of Departments, will have the chance to adopt new innovative tools and the e-learning course into their educational methods.
As SCIBIOEU will produce a course and materials easily adapted to many fields of sciences, professors can use this course as a prototype.
General public, patients, and their families. In the heart of biobanking is the enrollment of healthy and patient volunteers who will freely give access to their medical records as well as biological material to be used in future research. The creation of digital and easily accessible material relating to biobanking for these groups, like SG, will increase the effectiveness of promoting science to society as well as will enhance awareness of biobanking and citizens’ well-being.
People working in medical/biomedical research institutions, university-based repositories, institutional and government-supported repositories, commercial (for profit) biorepositories, population based biobanks and most recently, virtual biobanks as well as policymakers in this field.