'My job is to explain the findings and how they'll influence people's lives'

February 23, 2007

Dorothy Crawford aims to use her new role at Edinburgh to raise public understanding of key medical discoveries

Edinburgh University, which has one of the UK's oldest medical schools, has hundreds of medical and veterinary research teams. The impact of their work is set to become better known with the appointment of Dorothy Crawford as assistant principal for public understanding of medicine.

Professor Crawford, who came to Edinburgh in 1997 to take a chair in medical microbiology, said: "Much of our cutting-edge research is complex, and the results are published in specialist journals. My job is to explain the findings in simple terms and show how they will influence people's lives."

She will use her writing skills to tell the public about Edinburgh's research portfolio and is even considering setting up a magazine to report findings. Her media experience goes back to working at New Scientist on a media fellowship funded by the British Association for the Advancement of Science and the Royal Society.

Professor Crawford qualified in medicine at St Thomas' Hospital Medical School in London. She decided to train in pathology - then mostly laboratory based - and was advised to do some research. "I signed up for a PhD in Tony Epstein's lab in Bristol. He discovered Epstein-Barr virus, and everyone in the lab was working on it. It was so exciting that my decision was made - I never went back to clinical work."

She has written a book on viruses, The Invisible Enemy , and is due to publish another, Deadly Companions - How Microbes Shaped Our History , this year. She will continue her work into cancer-causing viruses alongside her new role.

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