Short descriptions of stroke, cancer, Parkinson’s and HIV/AIDS projects win our Elevator Pitch Challenge

Kevin McCormack explains the concept of the elevator pitch in our promo video

My colleague Amy Adams has created a monster. I don’t think she meant to, it just happened by accident. But truth be told, we’re rather happy she did.

It began innocently enough with an article in Nature about scientists trying to put together an “Elevator Speech” where they explain their work, what they do and why it’s important in two minutes or less. “Hey, we should do that with the researchers we fund,” Amy helpfully suggested.

One month, 2 days of shooting, one week of editing and 57 videos later the idea has taken on a life of it’s own, with stories in both the San Francisco Chronicle and ABC.

You can find out most of the details here in a news release about the event but basically our Elevator Pitch Challenge asked researchers who got stem cell agency funding to do a video in which they explained their work in plain English in as close to 30 seconds as they could. Some were really good at sticking to the time limit. Some were really good at speaking in everyday English. But only a very few were really good at both. And they emerged as the winners.

We divided the winners into two categories, Lead Scientists (those who have been doing research for some time) and non-Lead Scientists (those just starting out or in the early days of their career)

Here they are:

Non-Lead Scientist
1st. Jonathan Lam  (UCLA, stroke)
2nd. Suzanne Peterson (Scripps Research Institute, Parkinson’s)
3rd. Michael Rothenberg (Stanford, intestinal cancer)
3rd. Anica Sayoc (City of Hope/CSU Long Beach, leukemia)

Lead Scientist
1st. Amy Sprowles (Humboldt State U., cancer/Bridges Program)
2nd. John Zaia (City of Hope, HIV/AIDs)
3rd. Paul Knoepfler (UC Davis, cancer stem cells/epigenetics)
The prizes for winning aren’t quite on par with our funding awards, but the winners in both categories do at least get to choose between a $50 gift certificate from Amazon or Starbucks.

One pitch also deserved a special award category unto itself:

Most creative and original
Asaf Presente (UCSD, lung disease)

We have to point that Asaf is a seasoned comedian who has dabbled in improv. How lucky are we that he chose stem cells over showbiz?

Because there were so many good videos we are going to post some follow-up blogs in the coming days with staff here at the agency identifying their particular favorites. You can also get more information about the challenge, the winners and some of our favorite runners up on our website.

Amy’s monster just won’t die.

K.M.

One thought on “Short descriptions of stroke, cancer, Parkinson’s and HIV/AIDS projects win our Elevator Pitch Challenge

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