PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


The hands-on laboratory for journalists

Bernhard C. Adelmann-Grill   European Initiative for Communicators of Science, Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Germany

Georg W. Kreutzberg  

James Gowans  

EICOS, the  ‘European Initiative for Communicators of Science’, is  a European programme conducted.at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology and the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried,near Munich. There are three goals: to provide an opportunity for journalists (‘Fellows’) to experience biomedical research at its cutting edge by doing it themselves,to let scientists (‘Tutors’) learn about the mechanisms and restraints under which journalists work,to foster communication between journalists from the various European countries.

EICOS  invites  once  a  year  approximately  twelve  journalists  from  all  of  the  media  and  from  several European  countries  for  one  week  into  research  laboratories  at  Martinsried  to  work  side  by  side  with scientists  (‘Hands-on  Laboratory’).  Working  together  immediately  facilitates  excellent  communication.This  is  further  strengthened  by  social  activities  and  discussion  in  the  evenings  over  beer  and  wine.However, most of the time is spent at the bench.

Fellows are encouraged to spend an additional two weeks in first class biomedical research institutions in Germany, France, Italy, or Switzerland (‘External Assignments’), and at least half of the journalists are usually able to do so. Again, the emphasis is on laboratory experience and not on journalistic researching although the possibility to establish new contacts is highly appreciated by the journalists.

Funding is provided partly by the  European Commission but  mostly by private  foundations and  some government organisations.

The  programme  has  now  been  run  for  six  years.  The  overall  response  was  extremely  favourable  as summarised by a French journalist: ‘Si EICOS n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer...’




A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.