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Eric Topol's "Ground Truths"

  • 1.  Eric Topol's "Ground Truths"

    Posted 03-14-2023 10:22

    My NIH epidemiologist daughter, Katie M. O'Brien, turned me onto to this series last week. 

    She simply sent me the second link below about COVID. Before reading it, I did not notice its author. Upon finishing it, I said to myself that it was a sublime read, both in substance and style. (I care a lot about communication in science; see this 2010 Amstat News piece, Discover the Science of Technical Writing.)

    Then I saw who the author was: Eric Topol. When he and I overlapped at the Cleveland Clinic (Foundation, CCF), I worked with many others to implement his vision for CCF's then-new unique 5-year medical school, and we co-mentored an NIH-CTSA clinical-research scholar in cardiovascular medicine.  I'll spare you any of my stories; let me just say that Eric is The Most Positive Real Deal. What he writes about himself in the first link is a humbled sliver of the whole truth.

    So, I urge you to read these in this order. If they hit you as they hit me, then sign up for the series, which you can easily do from the links. Free!


    Dr. Topol opens with:

    What communication in medicine and science means to me

    It took me a couple of decades to realize that our role in the medical community can and should be to communicate not just to our peers, a microcosm, but to the public. To do that, it's vital to eliminate all the fancy jargon, which I try to do, but sometimes fail or don't take the requisite time. It reminds me of a story with Alan Alda, who is a master communicator that I've had the chance to get to know. When I got a review back for a paper in Science, one of the reviewers wrote "it's at the 6th grade level." I sent that review on to Alan and he wrote back that it was the nicest compliment I've ever received. For my presentations, I give the same talk and show the same slides whether it's a lay public audience or a science/medicine group of attendees. For many years, I have tried to inspire trainees and young faculty to broaden their reach, engage the public, and simplify their writings and presentations so they are understandable by all.


    Ralph O'Brien
    Professor of Biostatistics (officially retired; still keenly active)
    Case Western Reserve University