Q: Tell us a bit about the Foundation and what you’re doing now.
A: The Canadian Stem Cell Foundation is about a year old now, and was established to be a champion for stem cell science. A big part of that is building awareness and engaging people, in the field as well as the general public. Listening is a big part of that.
Stem cell science is a field that has the potential to revolutionize the way we treat a vast array of diseases, and it’s important that everyone is informed about what’s happening and has a say in the direction it takes. As an organization, we want to hear what you have to say and we’ll use your ideas, feedback and guidance to create initiatives. The Stem Cell Charter was a starting point for that.
Q: What’s happening with the Stem Cell Charter now?
A: The goal of the Charter was always to build a community that is informed about stem cell science and passionate about its advancement. It was our first initiative as an organization and we spent a lot of time and effort trying to establish a large, dedicated following. I think we’ve been pretty successful at this. Over 3,000 people have signed up since it was launched last September and it’s taken on a life of its own. More and more people are signing up every day and we’ve seen individuals and organizations take on the cause and champion it on their own. Now that this is happening, we will continue to promote and support the Charter community, but move from building the community to serving its members, as well as the general public.
Q: What other initiatives does the Foundation have going on?
A: We’re focusing on creating an open dialogue — getting input from as many sources as possible and creating initiatives and campaigns that reflect that. So, our activities right now revolve around promoting awareness of stem cell science and encouraging people to give us guidance and feedback. For example, we’re using social media to get input into what kind of events we run over the course of the year. Last month we ran a poll asking fans of our facebook pages to vote for a disease area that we should run an awareness campaign for. The poll ran for a week, and Multiple Sclerosis emerged as the choice in the end. So, based on that, we’re running a month-long awareness campaign in May focusing on stem cells and MS. We will continue to run polls like this in the future for awareness campaigns and other types of public outreach events.
Q: Besides the MS awareness campaign, what other ways will you engage with the public?
A: We’re trying to be creative in everything we do. Besides our social media strategy, we’re also pursuing friendraising. Our first event is Stem Cell Shinny, where people play shinny and raise awareness and funds to advance stem cell science. I think it’s a great way to celebrate stem cell science in a pretty unique and fun way. We’ll continue to run events like this in the future, and our hope is that others will come up with their own creative events too.
Q: What can people do to help advance stem cell science?
A: Learn about stem cell science. A well-informed community is a strong community, and one that can move stem cell science forward in a responsible way.
Share your knowledge with others. The more people know about stem cell science, the richer the dialogue will be.
Share your ideas with us. One of the best things about a new organization like ours is that everyone can help shape it. Send us an email, phone us, post on the wall of our facebook pages, comment on our blog. We read it all, and we’re thrilled when people tell us what they think.