Asynchronous: Scientific Communication for Leaders

Wednesday, June 1, 2022 - Thursday, June 30, 2022

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Course Description

Scientific Communication for Leaders teaches the principles and practice of dynamic, effective, transparent, and persuasive techniques for oral and written communication of scientific and health-risk information. Critically needed by global public health leaders, trainees learn how to communicate scientific information in diverse settings using written, oral, and social networking tools to reach global audiences, for and in official capacities. Giving practice talks and exercising communication tips, students critique leadership presentations – including their own – and solve a wide range of challenges embodied in case studies that exemplify the real-world global issues facing public health leaders today. Students apply the course principles in developing theses and practical applications linking these competencies to career paths in programs and policy. Awareness and review of social networking sites, plus critiques of recorded performances help students see the importance of professional, digital, and physical imaging. Communication outputs include presentations' critiques, formal oral presentations, informal and spontaneous press events and environments (e.g., press conferences, news releases, social network posts). The free-form class discussion makes it possible for class members to learn from one another's' experiences.

Course Objectives
  • Describe the principles for effective oral communication of scientific information
  • Describe the importance of scientific evidence, and, with it, the importance of a scientific system that produces said evidence.
  • Distinguish between data, information, and messages
  • Create and integrate into a presentation (written or oral) appropriate and effective tables, figures, charts, and photographs to enhance quality and impact
  • Define the term “target audience,” characterize such an audience, and plan, conduct, and critically evaluate an analysis of an audience
  • Distinguish among the most effective approaches for preparing material to be conveyed to a scientific versus non-scientific audience
  • Explain and apply different approaches needed to prepare material to be conveyed in print versus given orally
  • Explain how a speaker's image, dress, and body language communicate important messages to an audience
  • Describe the basic steps in dealing effectively with the media, especially during emergency public health settings
  • Determine who can best correct misinformation, how to do so, and at what cost
  • Explain how communication is an interactive process in which both information and meaning are shared
  • Explain and characterize the most effective approaches needed to prepare material for the primary purpose of persuading versus informing, and to be able to use the three types of persuasive proofs (logos, pathos, and ethos) in such presentations
  • Use social media to communicate scientific information
  • Apply principles of risk communication theories and models to the breadth of settings and situations in public health practice
  • Design effective risk communication messages that draw on ethical and reliable scientific information
  • Describe characteristics of a crisis, and evaluate appropriate strategies and methods that communicate risk communication messages effectively and coherently
  • Describe the purpose of the World Health Organization's International Health Regulations (IHR) and the role of risk communications within the IHR
  • Evaluate impartiality and its role in communicating uncertainty about science, facts, and data
  • Identify best practices for scientific presentation (i.e., comprehensiveness and clarity of contents, organization and flow, formatting, presenting and fielding question)



Course Reading List



Scott McNabb, PhD, MS

Prior to joining the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) and serving the 2-year EIS residency in New Orleans, LA, Dr. McNabb worked for 13 years at the Oklahoma State Health Department. Since 1993, most of his professional efforts have focused on serving those in underdeveloped, underserved global settings. Before retirement from CDC in 2010, he was Associate Director for Science; Public Health Informatics and Technology Program Office; Office for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services. From 2006 – 2008, he directed the Division of Integrated Surveillance Systems and Services, National Center for Public Health Informatics, CDC. He is now Research Professor and Director of the King Abdullah Fellowship Program ( at Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health. He teaches three classes at Rollins, GH 504 Effective Oral Communication; GH 592 Successful Scientific Writing; and GH 515 Transforming Public Health Surveillance. He also teaches Effective Oral Communication in short-course format at the University of Michigan Graduate Summer Session in Epidemiology ( and Transforming Public Health Surveillance in distance-learning format at the Epidemiology and Population Health Summer Institute at Columbia University ( Having mentored > 30 students through their M.P.H. or Ph.D., plus 14 fellows through the CDC Public Health Prevention Specialists program, he is jointly appointed in the Hubert Department of Global Health and Department of Epidemiology. He also holds an appointment as Adjunct Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, College of Public Health and Health Informatics, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Promoted to Distinguished Consultant in 2005 and nominated for the 2005 CDC Charles C. Shepard Award, he completed the 2004 Senior Executive Services (SES) candidate development program and is certified by the Office of Personnel Management. Dr. McNabb serves on the Editorial Board, Epidemiology and Global Health and in private practice as Managing Partner, Public Health Practice, LLC (


Affan Shaikh

Affan is a public health professional with interests in disease prevention and health systems strengthening. With over seven years of professional experience, Affan’s work engages multilateral stakeholders including inter- and intra- governmental organizations, academic intuitions, NGOs, and communities in building local public health capacities, improving health outcomes, and increasing access. He has worked on the ground across 22 different countries, and during the peak of the MERS-CoV outbreak in Saudi Arabia and following the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone. Through his work, Affan is driven to strengthen health systems using evidence-based research. He has had numerous teaching engagements with Emory University, the University of Michigan, and Columbia University, where he has taught courses on public health surveillance, oral communication, and scientific writing.

He has successfully consulted with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, numerous Ministries of Health throughout Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, and the World Health Organization. In addition to consulting, he serves as a Visiting Scientist for the National Academy of Sciences and as an International Board Member to the Saudi Arabia Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Affan holds an MPH in International Health from Boston University and a BA in Economics from University of California, Los Angeles. He resides in Los Angeles, California where he enjoys an active lifestyle, trying new restaurants, and planning new adventures.

Course Fee

Early registration discount before April 1, 2022: $900.00
After April 1, 2022: $1,000.00


The registration period has closed for this event.

Online Course Format

This is a 20-contact hour, asynchronous, multi-communication methods, e-Learning course; material will be available weekly from Jun 1 – Jun 30, 2022.


This multi-communication, on-line, e-Learning instance of Scientific Communication for Leaders is a highly, self-directed learning experience enabling great flexibility for trainees to accomplish the course objectives at the time and pace conducive to busy schedules.

This course utilizes the learning management software, Canvas:

To get started all registrants will receive and e-mail inviting them to join on the first day of the course offering. Upon receiving the e-mail, participants should follow the instructions to get signed up for a Canvas account.

This is a multi-communication, on-line, e-Learning instance equivalent to approximately 20 hours of classroom instruction. Lectures and course material will be presented online in weekly segments. The flexible format includes video or audio recordings of lecture material, file sharing and topical discussion fora, self-assessment exercises, real-time electronic office hours and access to instructors for feedback during the course. Registrants for episummer digital courses should have high-speed internet access.


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