April 2016 marks one year since the launch of PLOS Science Wednesday, our weekly Ask Me Anything (AMA) series on redditscience where scientists explain how they reached their newly published findings and why their research matters. Given the wide scope of the PLOS journals, authors featured over these past 52 weeks have discussed everything from antibiotic resistance and fMRI methods to new dinosaur species and the impacts of climate change. With the remarkable reach redditscience provides to tens of thousands of online participants with varying levels of scientific knowledge, PLOS has also been able to use PLOS Science Wednesday as a vehicle to spotlight research dealing with under-served populations and neglected diseases in global health, including the recent Zika outbreak, along with far less covered diseases such as Leptospirosis and Dengue.
And so we thought it particularly fitting to mark this first anniversary by providing a rare opportunity for redditscience readers to talk directly with five distinguished global health leaders and contributors to the PLOS Grand Convergence Collection.
In a particularly lively AMA, Gavin Yamey (@gyamey), Carlos Morel (@cmmorel), Peter Hotez (@PeterHotez), Margaret Kruk (@mkruk), and Soumya Swaminathan (@doctorsoumya) tackled more than 100 comments and questions. Many questions were within the scope of the Grand Convergence (which aims to reduce infectious, maternal, and child deaths down to universally low levels), but some touched on topics as far reaching as the global childhood diabetes epidemic and how the public health community can strengthen health systems even when working within the confines of a corrupt government.
Selected Moments from the PLOS Science Wednesday Grand Convergence AMA
I’ve collected some highlights from today’s AMA and Twitter below. A full transcript of the Grand Convergence AMA is available on redditscience.
In an impressive feat of institutional collaboration, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (where Margaret Kruk teaches), the Duke University Global Health Institute (where Gavin Yamey teaches), the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine (of which Peter Hotez is the Dean), and our friends at Global Health Now, all helped get the word out about the AMA.
Gavin Yamey, a co-editor of the PLOS Grand Convergence Collection, responds to the reddit user nate in the top upvoted question on the redditscience chat: Can our global food and water supplies support dramatic increases in global life span? Do advances in population control (birth control, family planning) need to advance at a similar rate to show sustainable change?
One question yields many different perspectives from our Global Health experts: In terms of child health, what do you think is the best approach to addressing this epidemic of diabetes?
Questions were also posed on risk factors and treatments for infectious diseases such as Tuberculosis.
Carlos Morel shared some insight on how any researcher, global health worker, or medical professional can make a positive contribution to the Grand Convergence.
Gavin responds to a question on corruption by reddit user derogatorydolphin: How do you balance the need for effective and well-funded public healthcare in less wealthy countries against the realities of what are often corrupt, violent and/or despotic governments? How can first-world nations promote and fund large-scale medical interventions in a way that does not reinforce the power of existing, terrible governments but instead helps build sustainable, functional, responsible governance in these countries?
Some questions touched on related issues, including climate change and food security.
We close with a quote from Gavin about why open access publishing is critical to accelerating scientific advancement in global health: