Gene Editing Institute Case Study: Executive Positioning
Geneticists and other scientists have been looking at the mysteries of unsolvable deadly cancers for decades, and in many cases, this has been elusive. The discovery of gene editing has opened the door to revolutionary ways to treat cancers and many other diseases and Eric Kmiec, Ph.D., knows its power to improve care. With his growing team, they are perfecting this new technology’s targeting skills and starting the first lung cancer clinical trial to use gene editing to reduce solid tumors in patients. His institute, based at ChristianaCare in Wilmington, Delaware, is embedded in a community health system that brings a unique and diverse patient focus to cutting-edge science. Dr. Kmiec is an equal with some of the greatest gene editing experts, yet getting attention for the institute’s good work, because they aren’t based at a prestigious university, can be challenging.
Dr. Kmiec had big dreams about this new technology, mainly his interest in ensuring that all patients, no matter their financial situation or culture or race, have access to the best that medicine has to offer. Yet, currently, cancer patients at community hospitals in cities without much access to our leading medical institutions may or may not receive the latest medical breakthroughs. There is also a significant lack of Black and Brown scientists in his field, and to begin to address this, the institute has created the first gene editing curriculum for high school and college students to encourage students to study gene editing and increase diversity.
We made it our mission to position Dr. Kmiec and his important messages about access and equity as a thought leader and leading gene editing expert to those who don’t yet know him. We helped position him on local and national scales with opinion pieces and connections with national, medical and technology reporters. We worked with his calendar to determine where he is speaking and worked to connect him with local reporters when possible, town by town. We scoured the news for opportunities for commentary and updated and improved the approach to social media for the institute.
By connecting Dr. Kmiec for meetings with journalists from the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, STAT and more, he has gotten more calls from others interested in his work and opinions, including funders, other science colleagues and additional reporters. We have seized news opportunities with op-eds in STAT and Scientific American and placed a letter-to-the-editor in The New York Times, which led to other coverage, including the podcast “The Smartest Doctor in the Room.” We have increased attention to the institute’s social channels using an editorial calendar, increasing photography, graphics and social advertising efforts, and wrote new messaging and content for a new website. We continue to bring attention and focus to both his science and leadership in changing the face of gene editing science and encouraging equitable care for all people.