Open Insulin - Educational Outreach

Hi everyone!

I’d like to set up a discussion on the outreach aspect of the project. I feel like people have heard about insulin and diabetes and they vaguely know it has something to do with sugar and stabbing yourself (In Flanders, when people have diabetes, they have ‘The Sugar’).

So we have the opportunity to address that through this project.

The way I see it, the content would fall within these 3 categories and I think it would be cool to do one project in each:

  • Hardcore education: a clear but accurate rendering of what diabetes is and how insulin works, on the molecular level and how OpenInsuline is approaching it. Scientifcally driven, but clear and accessible. -- Medium: a wiki, a blog, a video, an infographic, ...
  • General outreach: A brief and general overview of diabetes and insuline, that describes the problems and solution. Here we could rely on metaphors, alternate non-scientific imagery and pop culture outcasts to paint a picture with layman's terms. The storytelling is strong in this one. -- Medium: a song, a meme stream, a video, an infographic, an app, ...
  • Awereness: The aim here is for diabetes to reclaim the spotlight, without going into detail and without there being an obivous 'lesson'. This calls for a unique approach in terms of medium/execution and there has to be a synergy between the message and the medium as well. Ideally we can find a medium with which diabetes hasn't been presented yet. Medium: VR, a stick figure game, a comic, an open mic night with diabetes patients, ...

I think it will also be important to have the outcome of each category refer to the other ones, if we decide to tickmark every category. If we write a blog, we can urge to ‘check out this silly thing we made’; if we write a song, the interested can find more info in our wiki, etc

So maybe we can start with coming up with some options for each category and build from there?

Hoping to have been constructive,



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Purpose related to OpenInsulin or diabetes education in general?

Hi @NiekD and nice to meet you! I heard good things about you :slight_smile:

I’m a generalist and so doing community management on Edgeryders across the different projects - definitely not a health specialist!, but here’s my two cents:

I like the idea of using mixed media to report on any health matters - you can never have enough awareness for sure. Writing a song sounds both hilarious and ingenious. I’m wondering though whether you’re dreaming up a campaign to engage more OpenInsulin supporters in your project or if viceversa, to use the project as a vehicle for education, awareness etc about a widespread condition.

To give you an idea of the many directions outreach could go, Anthony (aka @dfko here on edgeryders) made 3 points here for the stake brought forward by OI in the bigger picture:

  • open sourcing medical research for accelerating progress
  • making insulin more affordable through small scale production
  • citizen science and democratizing participation.. point made by Winnie as well.

You can probably add more, and surely know best where you would be going. Lots of angles though, even for a general purpose, basic language campaign…

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Hello @NiekD , welcome to Edgeryders.

I do not have much experience in these areas. They all look really useful. IMHO what matters is capacity. How many people do you have to throw at the problem? How much time do they have? How much experience? Etc.

From my understanding, ReaGent is strong on education projects. So, that would be my recommended starting point. Make a great education project linked to Open Insulin; sell it in Gent and beyond. This is a win-win-win proposition, because it builds on existing expertise and reinforces ReaGent’s reputation in its main “business” area. You other, broader proposals can be taken on too, of course, but before you start designing I would recommend making sure there is at least one person who takes responsibility for driving them forward.

insulin on the molecular level

Hi @NiekD,

I’m planning to include how insuline works on the molecular level in my biochemistry course. Happy to assist in the writing of this part.


Purpose of communication & demand from people

Over time we have often heard the desire of non-biologist people to learn about biotech & synthetic biology. Paving a way for interested people to learn about these subjects with Open Insulin as a case study and storyline might be a win for all. It’s outreach, combined with education and combined with training people to work with us on this. The latter is one of the things needed to keep pushing the project and citizen science in general forward.

There’s plenty of biohacklabs around the world offering introductory courses like this. I believe CCL even has some intro courses @dfko ?


I agree capacity is the bottleneck. Looking for synergies with what is already going on, within ReaGent or otherwise, is a good strategy: Ekoli, schools, universities, dedicated organisations that have some form of an educational track already (eg. Belgian diabetes liga <Dutch>

I advocate for working progressively, starting with things that can be made quickly (knowledge tidbits, short posts, graphics, …) while building up reach and resources for harder things.

Ideally all educational material can be shared with Sydney and Oakland and made so that it requires minimal effort to adapt it to the local conditions. This goes for local use as well: if we can make it so it is easily used by any type of organisation for many types of audience, spread it openly, we save ourselves a lot of groundwork. It takes a bit more coordination work, however it translates in more reach for everyone involved.

Youth education would be an exception, as fitting it into the local educational system will always require some work. In the Belgian case, I think we have enough experience with Ekoli to do this. We can try to share this experience through an appendix though.

We should flesh out a good synergy with the goal of the Open Insulin project as @Noemi mentions. Ideally the three points made by Anthony can be integrated in Niek’s idea. Content on insulin/diabetes is the ‘vehicle’ for explaining less visible/more abstract things like open source and citizen science.

Benoit has some experience of this

Will ping him to see if he might be interested.

Hi @WinniePoncelet,

I work at the Diabetes Liga, as a part of the ‘content  team’. Let me now if I can help (creation of content for instance)!



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Hi Guido, can you join us at the next meeting? April 27th @20.00 @ReaGent. We can use your input in the research part as well.

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Hi Rita, I’ll be there!


Welcome, small correction

Hey @GLS9000 thanks for reaching out and welcome to the platform! It would be super interesting to hear your input.

I’m afraid there has been an error on my part, sorry. We meet every two weeks in the lab on Wednesdays, during the open lab night at ReaGent. I wrote down the wrong date in the notes, which is where @ritavht  got it from. The correct date and time is Wednesday the 26th at 8pm. I hope you’re also available then?

Welcome, small correction

Hey @WinniePoncelet, no worries! I’ll see you guys on Wednesday then.

Great, @mboto from the KASK Laboratorium will also be there. She’s looking into building an arts project around Open Insulin. Maybe there’s options to combine efforts there.

What is the communication for?

I once got a useful heuristic for shaping effective communication. Basically whatever you craft has to answer the following questions (with a “yes”): Is it here? Is it now? Does it affect me? Is there anything I can do about it?

More generally what is the behavioral change that you want to achieve with each outreach effort?