Updated: Aug 23
Atia Amin, McGill University human genetics researcher won the Canadian National 3MT championship. Here's a link to the award winning talk
And here's a breakdown of why it works:
The first 15 seconds
She starts with a person: Easha. And we hear how she has a disease (Leishmaniasis) whose only treatment is more than her family can afford. We see her scars, we feel her pain, we feel Atia feel her pain. All in the first 15 seconds.
The rest of the introduction:
We learn about the disease (a parasite), what it does (organ failure & death), why current treatments don't work (drug resistance) and how many people it potentially impacts (1 billion). And this is all done in the first 45 seconds.
We come to understand why we might not have heard of it (it is prevalent only in some of the poorest countries) and why Atia cares so deeply about it (she grew up in Bangladesh and has seen it herself).
And now into the research:
How does the parasite become resistant? We explored how they communicate by producing small bubbles (exosomes) and how this communication is different between resistant and non-resistant parasites. Which leads to a discovery of a particularly more prevalent gene, that, now that she has identified it, can potentially be combatted and then the drug resistance will be overcome.
And the close:
How will the world be different: With hope, hope for Aisha and hope for all the girls like Aisha to not suffer from this terrible disease.
1) Start with plain language and then introduce technical terms (disease then Leishmaniasis; current treatments don't work then drug resistance; small bubbles then exosomes). Order matters. Starting with plain language that your technical terms map onto means the audience is never lost. This is the best of both worlds: an audience that understands the technical language that is correct.
2) Start at the human level: 1 person 1 story. Too often we start in the background with the big picture or with statistics, but the big picture often does not carry the same weight or impact of a single human. So think carefully about your opening, are you better starting big or small, often small makes for a bigger opening.
For those interested in learning more...
Eisha lives in a village 170km from Dhaka, near where Atia grew up. Her story can be read here: https://www.crownagents.com/blog-post/visceral-leishmaniasis-in-bangladesh-the-case-of-10-year-old-easha/. The organization ASCEND (Accelerating the sustainable Control and Elimination of Tropical Diseases) is a UK-Aid funded organization.