This is about people working in medical research charities or patient groups who communicate health information and / or results from clinical research. There are of course people who work in charities that use non-health scientific information (eg climate science, marine conservation etc) but that's not covered here.
Charity science or health communication covers quite a few different types of information as well as different audiences and different means of communication.
I'm going to be adding to this periodically - this is a 'stub' for now. Anyone who works as a charity science communicator is very welcome to add their own thoughts in comments or by email jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com - thanks. Also that email is good for anyone who has questions that I've not thought of that should be in this post.
Someone might write an article for a charity's website or their magazine about a piece of research the charity has funded, putting it in context with previous research findings and what the results might mean for someone with a particular medical condition. Or they might give a talk on research that's being funded to companies or local support groups - to raise funds, to thank people for funds raised or just to raise awareness and keep people updated.
They might be required to do a literature search on a particular topic to help develop a policy statement, or for the organisation to contribute to NICE guidelines on treatment.
Some people will answer a wide range of science questions directly from the public on all matters relating to the condition and its treatment, drawing on published resources and databases.
They might fact check externally written articles, or any text that the charity wants to publish. Note that most text is edited in several ways - fact checking and sense-making, typos, and house-style - this might be done by the same person or different ones.
Putting together statistical information for use across the charity - snappy facts are often required when putting out a press release. Journalists writing for a local paper are naturally keen to put a local perspective on things.
I've collected several hundred job descriptions over the last three years or so and many of them are from charities.
I'm going to start putting them in some sort of order (by salary) here but in the meantime just use Google to search the database, using the site: advanced search.
For example, google for site:scicommjobs.posterous.com diabetes to find all jobs that mention diabetes (eg from Diabetes UK or JDRF etc).
The information in job descriptions and person specifications gives some indication of what employers expect.
Where are jobs advertised?
Guardian Jobs / psci-com mailing list, sometimes on ABSW (Association of British Science Writers), Charity Comms (which provides all manner of comms jobs in the charity sector that include non scicomm jobs)...
But I don't have enough experience
This is a perennial problem of course and you may find that you have to do some other jobs before you can move into your dream charity scicomm job. Some suggestions
In larger charities there will be more people doing these different roles but in smaller charities one person might take on more tasks.
Being able to explain complex information in a clear way is essential in any role and in a charity setting avoiding hype is also essential, as is being very careful not to give medical advice.
Alice Bell gives some good advice for anyone wanting to be a science communicator, in her post "Working in science communication" and one of those suggestions is to start a blog, which I'd wholeheartedly agree with. It's fun, you get to interact with a wide variety of people online, your views may well be challenged forcing you to reflect and you get the opportunity to write regularly on topics you're interested in. All of this happened too in my work at Diabetes UK and I think the discipline of having a blog and being part of the scicomm world helped me do my job better.
Who / what are the charities?
All UK charities must be registered with the Charity Commission. Some health charities don't fund research but still provide information to patients and advocacy and there's plenty of science communication going on there. Charities that do fund medical research may be members of the Association of Medical Research Charities, which has over 100 members - note that there are very relevant charities that aren't members of the AMRC.
I've been collecting a list of suitable charities here (and some here) but the merest google will of course find many more.
- Action Medical Research • Vacancies
- Action on Addiction • Jobs
- Action on Hearing Loss (see RNID below; this is their new name)
- Age UK (formerly Research Into Ageing) • Work for us
- Alcohol Education and Research Council, The • None (very small charity)
- Alzheimer's Research UK • Careers (formerly Alzheimer’s Research Trust)
- Alzheimer's Society • Job vacancies
- Arthritis Research UK (Chesterfield) • Work for us
- Association for International Cancer Research • Vacancies
- Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus • Recruitment
- Asthma UK • Jobs
- Ataxia UK • Jobs
- Ataxia-Telangiectasia Society • Couldn't find
- Autistica • Jobs / Recruitment
- BackCare • Vacancies
- Bardhan Research and Education Trust of Rotherham
Email >> email@example.com
- Beit Memorial Fellowships for Medical Research • Couldn't find
- Blackie Foundation Trust, The • it's a homeopathy research charity so probably not much science to be communicated
- Blond McIndoe Research Foundation, The • Current Vacancies
- Brain Research Trust • Vacancies
- Breakthrough Breast Cancer • Jobs
- Breast Cancer Campaign • Jobs
- See also 'Breast Cancer Care' below (not AMRC charity)
- British Council for Prevention of Blindness • Didn't find
- British Heart Foundation • Vacancies menu
- British Liver Trust • Vacancies
- British Lung Foundation • Working for the BLF
- British Neurological Research Trust, The • did not find, see also
- British Occupational Health Research Foundation • did not find
- British Orthopaedic Association
- British Pain Society, The • did not find
- British Retinitis Pigmentosa Society • Work for us
Unusually this website includes a small list containing useful info about previously filled posts!
- British Scoliosis Research Foundation • did not find, but note that there are two websites to search on that page as two charities have combined.
- British Sjögren's Syndrome Association • did not find
- British Skin Foundation • did not find
- Bupa Foundation • did not find
- Cancer Research UK • Jobs
- CFS Research Foundation • Didn't find
- Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland • Jobs (in Scotland)
- Children with Cancer UK (formerly Children with Leukaemia) • Job opportunities
- See also 'Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research' below (not an AMRC charity)
- Children's Liver Disease Foundation • Jobs
- Chronic Disease Research Foundation • Didn't find
- Chronic Granulomatous Disorder Research Trust • Didn't find but see... Who we are
- Circulation Foundation • Couldn't find
- See also 'Coeliac UK' below (not an AMRC charity)
- Core (The Digestive Disorders Foundation) • Couldn't find
- Crohn's & Colitis UK • Jobs
- Crohn's in Childhood Research Association •
- Cystic Fibrosis Trust • Vacancies
- Deafness Research UK • Vacancies
- See also 'NDCS' (National Deaf Children's Society?) below - not an AMRC charity
- DebRA • Jobs & Vacancies
- Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation • Working at DRWF
- Diabetes UK • Jobs
- Dunhill Medical Trust • Couldn't find
- EMF Biological Research Trust • Couldn't find
- Epilepsy Action • Vacancies
- Epilepsy Research UK (incorporating Epilepsy Research Foundation and Fund for Epilepsy) • Job vacancies
- Fight for Sight • Jobs/Job opportunities
- Foundation for Liver Research • http://www.liver-research.org.uk/jobopportunities/rs6jd.html possibly a jobs board rather than a vacancies page
- Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths • Jobs
- Furlong Research Charitable Foundation
- Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity
- Guy's and St Thomas' Charity • Couldn't find
- Healing Foundation • Didn't find (but did find staff page)
- Heart Research UK (formerly National Heart Research Fund) • Jobs / join our team
- Huntington's Disease Association • Couldn't find
- Hypertension Trust • Couldn't find
- Inspire Foundation • Didn't find, not based in London
- International Spinal Research Trust • Did not find
- Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation • Job vacancies
- Kidney Research UK • Careers
- Kids Kidney Research • None (volunteers only)
- Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine • Couldn't find
- Little Foundation • Couldn't find
- Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research • Employment
- See also 'Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research' below (not an AMRC charity)
- Marie Curie Cancer Care • Jobs
- Mason Medical Research Foundation Email >> firstname.lastname@example.org
- Medical Research Scotland (formally Scottish Hospital Endowments Research Trust)
- Meningitis Research Foundation • Job opportunities
- Meningitis Trust • Jobs/Vacancies
- Meningitis UK (registered as Spencer Dayman Meningitis UK) • Working for us/Vacancies
- Migraine Trust • Did not find
- Motor Neurone Disease Association MNDA • Job vacancies
- Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland • Jobs
- Muscular Dystrophy Campaign • Jobs
- Myeloma UK • Employment opportunities
- National Association for Colitis & Crohn's Disease • Jobs
- National Eye Research Centre • Did not find
- National Osteoporosis Society • Vacancies
- Neuro-Disability Research Trust • Job opportunities
- Neurosciences Research Foundation • Did not find
- North West Cancer Research Fund • Did not find
- Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke Association • Jobs
- Northern Ireland Leukaemia Research Fund • Did not find
- Novo Nordisk UK Research Foundation • Did not find
- Nuffield Foundation • Jobs
- Ovarian Cancer Action • Did not find
- Pancreatic Cancer UK • not found yet
- Parkinson's UK • Current vacancies (formerly Parkinson's Disease Society)
- PBC Foundation (UK) Ltd, The •
- Pelican Cancer Foundation, The •
- Pharmacy Practice Research Trust •
- Primary Immunodeficiency Association • did not find
- Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Association, The • Vacancies
- Prostate Action • Work for us
- Prostate Cancer Charity, The • Vacancies and general Working for us
- Prostate Cancer Research Foundation • Work for us <-- now Prostate Action (merged with Prostate UK)
- Psoriasis Association, The • Email email@example.com
- RAFT - The Restoration of Appearance and Function Trust • Staff vacancies
- Remedi • did not find
- Research into Ageing • did not find <-- now known as Age UK
- Restore - Burn and Wound Research
- RNID • Work with us and Current Vacancies
- Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, The • Working with us / Current vacancies
- Royal College of Surgeons of England • Working at the College
- Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust •
- Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust • did not find
- Society for Endocrinology •
- South West Thames Kidney Fund •
- SPARKS - The Children’s Medical Research Charity • Vacancies
- St Peter's Trust for Kidney, Bladder & Prostate Research •
- Stroke Association, The • Jobs
- Tenovus • Current vacancies
- Tommy's The Baby Charity • Working for Tommy's / New positions
- Tuberous Sclerosis Association • Did not find, try Contact us
- Ulster Cancer Foundation • Job vacancies
- Wellbeing of Women • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- WellChild (Registered as The WellChild Trust) • Job vacancies
- Wellcome Trust, The • Jobs and e-recruitment (see also Sanger Institute)
- Wessex Medical Research • Didn't spot vacancies page.
- William Harvey Research Foundation • Email: email@example.com
- World Cancer Research Fund • Jobs info - current vacancies
- Yorkshire Cancer Research • Work for us / Job opportunities
- Addaction • Work for us
- Arthritis Care • Current vacancies
- Breast Cancer Care • Jobs •
- Coeliac UK • Vacancies • See also Working for Coeliac UK
- CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) • haven't found vacancies page, but they do list who's working for them and their job title, which is amazing.
- Eve Appeal (Gynaecological Cancer Research)
- Genetic Alliance • Vacancies
- Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research aka Beating Blood Cancers • Jobs
- Linc (Leukaemia & Intensive Chemotherapy Fund, Cheltenham) • did not find
- ME Association •
- MEND (London, obesity) • Work with us
- National Autistic Society • Jobs
- The Neurological Society • Our vacancies
- NDCS (National Deaf Children's Society) • Jobs
- Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund
- Pituary Foundation •
- RNIB • Jobs / Current vacancies
- MPS (Society for Mucopolysaccharide Diseases)
- Understanding Animal Research • Current vacancies
Becoming a science communicator - general advice from the British Science Association