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Good Worldwide Launches Leaps.org to Rebuild Public Trust in Science and Journalism

Good Worldwide Launches Leaps.org to Rebuild Public Trust in Science and Journalism

MARCH 15, 2021 -- LeapsMag, the award-winning online magazine created to encourage public discussion about scientific innovation, re-emerges today as Leaps.org, a non- profit media initiative within the Good Worldwide ecosystem, dedicated to rebuilding public trust in science as a force for good and fostering dialogue about the ethical implications of new breakthroughs. Leaps.org's news and commentary cover a wide range of topics including health and medicine, biotechnology, agriculture, research and development, space exploration, and environmental concerns. Notable contributors and interviewees include neuroscientist Sam Harris, geneticist George Church, Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel, author Steven Pinker, virologist Angela Rasmussen, and many others.

Science and the media that report on it are facing unprecedented mistrust and suspicion, yet at the same time the COVID-19 pandemic has generated a growing public appetite for accessible information about scientific developments. President Biden has tasked his Surgeon General nominee Vivek Murthy with improving public trust in science as one of his key goals. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported in January that roughly 3 in 10 U.S. health care workers express hesitancy about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. A September 2020 Pew Research Center study found that "majorities across 18 of the 20 publics say that limited public understanding is a problem for coverage of scientific research."

And Edelman Worldwide released global survey results showing that trust in scientists and journalists is down compared with last year, and trust in all information sources is at record lows: "In a world of misinformation and media echo chambers," Edelman stated, "how can we rebuild the trust needed to enable the acceptance of science and innovation to create a brighter future for humanity?"


That's where Leaps.org comes in. The original platform was launched by science writer Kira Peikoff in 2017 as an editorially independent outlet for high-quality journalism and commentary, with financial support from Leaps by Bayer, the impact investment unit of Bayer that invests in paradigm-shifting technologies. Leaps by Bayer holds the conviction that responsible innovation requires broad public engagement on a neutral platform that is free of sponsor bias.

Leaps.org's transition to becoming a non-profit media outlet underscores the publication's guiding principle: total editorial independence. Editor-in-Chief Peikoff ensures that funders have no influence over the content published, including no veto power or advance viewing. She will be expanding key partnerships, special events, and philanthropic projects. "In light of the magnified confusion and suspicion raised by the pandemic, there's never been a more important time for science and media to join together," said Peikoff. "We need to highlight the key role of scientific progress in securing society's future while aggressively countering misinformation and breaking down barriers to inclusive discussion. Leaps.org accomplishes these goals through accessible and accurate storytelling, using the highest caliber sources and rigorous fact-checking." Because Leaps.org is not reliant on a revenue-generating model, its journalism is not tied to conventional performance-driven metrics.

"Scientific progress could change the world for the better, but advances will only have impact if people understand the benefits and feel empowered to ask questions. Stimulating this dialogue has never been more important," said Dr. Jürgen Eckhardt who heads up Leaps by Bayer. "We applaud the evolution of Leaps.org into a non-profit initiative that can realize its mission on a larger scale."

"Right now, a healthy relationship with science is vital to address our biggest challenges – from COVID-19 to climate change. It's an honor to be part of the fast-growing, award-winning Leaps.org platform to help science and society thrive together," said GOOD Worldwide Co- Founder and CEO Max Schorr.

As part of the transition, Leaps.org recently launched a new monthly podcast series, "Making Sense of Science," with the first episode featuring NYU medical bioethicist Dr. Arthur Caplan. On March 11, Leaps.org co-hosted "COVID Vaccines and the Return to Life: Part 1" with the Aspen Institute Science & Society Program and the Sabin–Aspen Vaccine Science & Policy Group, the first of a four-part series that will run throughout 2021. Leaps.org's regular publication schedule features original reporting and commentary from highly sought-after journalists, scientists, academics, and thought leaders. The platform has already achieved significant success in making science compelling to a large audience, achieving close to 6 million page views and 6.2 million engagements on social media in 2020 alone.

About Leaps.org

Leaps.org is a not-for-profit program within the Good Worldwide ecosystem, which also includes Upworthy — a media platform that reaches over 150 million people monthly — whose mission is to share the best of humanity and inspire others to do the same.

Leaps.org publishes award-winning journalism, popularizes scientific progress on social media, and hosts forums about innovation, ethics, and the future of humanity. Leaps.org's projects and activities are supported by a consortium of like-minded partners including the Aspen Institute Science & Society Program, and supporters Leaps by Bayer, the Rita Allen Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Follow Leaps.org @makingsenseofscience on Instagram, @leaps_org on Twitter, and @leaps.org on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Kira Peikoff

Kira Peikoff was the editor-in-chief of Leaps.org from 2017 to 2021. As a journalist, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Nautilus, Popular Mechanics, The New York Academy of Sciences, and other outlets. She is also the author of four suspense novels that explore controversial issues arising from scientific innovation: Living Proof, No Time to Die, Die Again Tomorrow, and Mother Knows Best. Peikoff holds a B.A. in Journalism from New York University and an M.S. in Bioethics from Columbia University. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two young sons. Follow her on Twitter @KiraPeikoff.

Tiny, tough “water bears” may help bring new vaccines and medicines to sub-Saharan Africa

Tardigrades can completely dehydrate and later rehydrate themselves, a survival trick that scientists are harnessing to preserve medicines in hot temperatures.

Adobe Stock

Microscopic tardigrades, widely considered to be some of the toughest animals on earth, can survive for decades without oxygen or water and are thought to have lived through a crash-landing on the moon. Also known as water bears, they survive by fully dehydrating and later rehydrating themselves – a feat only a few animals can accomplish. Now scientists are harnessing tardigrades’ talents to make medicines that can be dried and stored at ambient temperatures and later rehydrated for use—instead of being kept refrigerated or frozen.

Many biologics—pharmaceutical products made by using living cells or synthesized from biological sources—require refrigeration, which isn’t always available in many remote locales or places with unreliable electricity. These products include mRNA and other vaccines, monoclonal antibodies and immuno-therapies for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions. Cooling is also needed for medicines for blood clotting disorders like hemophilia and for trauma patients.

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Gail Dutton
Gail Dutton has covered the biopharmaceutical industry as a journalist for the past three decades. She focuses on the intersection of business and science, and has written extensively for GEN – Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, Life Science Leader, The Scientist and BioSpace. Her articles also have appeared in Popular Science, Forbes, Entrepreneur and other publications.
Man Who Got the First Fecal Transplant to Cure Melanoma Shares His Experience

Jamie Rettinger with his now fiance Amie Purnel-Davis, who helped him through the clinical trial.

Photo courtesy of Jamie Rettinger

Jamie Rettinger was still in his thirties when he first noticed a tiny streak of brown running through the thumbnail of his right hand. It slowly grew wider and the skin underneath began to deteriorate before he went to a local dermatologist in 2013. The doctor thought it was a wart and tried scooping it out, treating the affected area for three years before finally removing the nail bed and sending it off to a pathology lab for analysis.

"I have some bad news for you; what we removed was a five-millimeter melanoma, a cancerous tumor that often spreads," Jamie recalls being told on his return visit. "I'd never heard of cancer coming through a thumbnail," he says. None of his doctors had ever mentioned it either. "I just thought I was being treated for a wart." But nothing was healing and it continued to bleed.

A few months later a surgeon amputated the top half of his thumb. Lymph node biopsy tested negative for spread of the cancer and when the bandages finally came off, Jamie thought his medical issues were resolved.

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Bob Roehr
Bob Roehr is a biomedical journalist based in Washington, DC. Over the last twenty-five years he has written extensively for The BMJ, Scientific American, PNAS, Proto, and myriad other publications. He is primarily interested in HIV, infectious disease, immunology, and how growing knowledge of the microbiome is changing our understanding of health and disease. He is working on a book about the ways the body can at least partially control HIV and how that has influenced (or not) the search for a treatment and cure.