#SciComm: Susan and Hayley from @Cancer.Research.Demystified

Posted by Applied Biological Materials (abm) on April 27, 2020

We recognize science can seem difficult to young scientists, and we hope to raise awareness about people who make it fun and accessible to broader audiences through social media, #SciComm!


This week, we're introducing Susan and Hayley, science communicators putting their hearts and minds into cancer research and making it accessible for all! On their Instagram account @cancer.research.demystified, they debunk common cancer myths and share lab techniques for cancer research.

We were lucky enough to get a chance to ask them a few questions about their journey to becoming cancer research scientists!

cancer.research.demystified Portrait

Hi Susan and Hayley, thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us! Can you tell us a bit about yourselves - where are you from and what were your career paths?

Hayley did her undergraduate degree in biochemistry at Manchester and a PhD in photomedicine at Imperial College London and Susan did her undergraduate degree in molecular medicine at Trinity College Dublin and a subsequent PhD in cancer treatment at Trinity College Dublin. We both met doing post doctoral research in prostate cancer at UCL London, where we’ve been for four years. 👋🎓

What inspired you to become cancer researchers and science communicators?

Cancer is a fascinating research area due to its complexity and different presentations. Cancer research brings together many different fields of science and we both have had family and friends affected by it. It’s a very dynamic field which is moving fast and very exciting to be a part of.

Science communication started as a bit of fun but we have both realised its impact and importance for cancer patients and their families. 🎗️

cancer.research.demystified Portrait

Tell us a bit about the science communication events you've been a part of!

We started CRD as an online platform, focusing on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Recently we’ve expanded this into the real world, visiting cancer patient support groups, fundraising events, schools events and hospital open days. 🏥📢

The communication feels more tangible at such events, allowing a dialogue with those who watch our YouTube videos and getting feedback on what they’d like to see in the future.

Your Spam Filter videos debunk some misconceptions about cancer. What are some of the most common misconceptions about cancer, and how would you debunk them?

One of the current myths doing the rounds is that alkaline water or alkaline foods can prevent or cure cancer. This one is complicated to debunk, so we set up a fun experiment with our friend to prove it’s not an easy answer. 🤓📓

Other myths we’ve busted include that cannabis can cure cancer and that ‘big pharma’ has a secret cure for cancer, but there are lots of others out there and anyone is welcome to suggest one for us to talk about next!

cancer.research.demystified Portrait

What's the best part of your day?

Every day is different in science, and we love that variety.

In general, the pockets of time that we get to spend contemplating our own data in depth are precious to both of us – as some days can get lost in paperwork/teaching etc.

What could make the world a better place?

Transparency in research is really important to both of us, and we’re trying to improve this by publishing open access, publishing negative data and validation data, and mentoring our students to understand the importance of this.


Tell us a fun fact about yourselves!

Hayley tried to learn to fly, but failed her test due to missing the runway… But she passed her motorbike license first time! 🏍️

What do you do in your free time?

Susan is obsessed with rollercoasters, and her frequent themepark trips explain why she hasn’t been able to afford a house yet. 🎡🎠

If there’s one thing you could tell everyone about cancer research, what would it be?

Cancer isn’t one disease, it’s very complicated and there will not be one cure for cancer.

There will be multiple cures for each type of cancer, and we’re further towards that for some than others.

Thank you Susan and Hayley for letting us into your world! The work that you do is so important for helping us navigate through the complex world of scientific research and keep the facts straight. You can follow their instagram @cancer.research.demystified (they also have an awesome youtube channel)..

cancer.research.demystified Illustration

We hope that you have enjoyed this interview with Susan and Hayley and let's keep working together to promote #SciComm! 🎉

If you'd like to be featured on our #SciComm series, post a comment below or on any of our social media channels. We'd love to hear all your inspiring stories on how science makes the world a better place. 🙌

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