The human side of clinical development and re-inspiring curiosity in science with Leah Elson (#55)


Compassion in healthcare is about operating with respect in more ways than one. We've spoken previously about the cultural side of medicine and the program Operating With Respect, but today I speak with Leah Elson about developing technology and procedures that can create psychologically and physiologically better patient outcomes, and also about getting people excited about science again.

About Leah Elson

Leah Elson is an academically-published clinical development scientist, public science communicator, and non-fiction author. Her research career in human medicine has included the fields of orthopedics, oncology, and neuroscience.

Listen to the Podcast

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Castbox, Deezer, Goodpods, Overcast, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, TuneIn, Blubrry, Digital Podcast, Gaana, Podcast Addict, Podchaser, Podhero, PlayerFM, JioSaavn, RSS, and other podcast platforms.

Apple PodcastsSpotifyiHeartRadioStitcher

Watch on YouTube

Show Notes

(00:01:06) Sportscasting in college.
(00:02:24) Adventures in pre-med.
(00:03:01) Leah’s early interest in surgery, but realising she could do more upstream.
(00:04:43) Research is playing the long game.
(00:05:44) Leah’s current work with peripheral nerve repair and its compassionate applications.
(00:08:43) Taking a more holistic view of patient outcomes.
(00:10:28) Allowing researchers to actually see the impact of their work.
(00:11:18) STEMM can be a social equaliser because you’re working towards the same goal of humanity.
(00:12:30) How Leah determines the direction of her research focus.
(00:14:59) The beauty of research rabbitholes. The best discoveries are accidental.
(00:15:51) The importance of maintaining connections and networks. You never know where you’ll find convergence across fields.
(00:18:15) Hyperspecialisation and the globaliser that was COVID.
(00:20:45) The future is in unpacking genetics.
(00:24:58) The science that divides advances us.
(00:26:01) The impact of market (and climate) forces and the reminder that humans are creative and resilient.
(00:29:27) ‘60 Seconds of Science’ and the importance of supporting the voices that inform.
(00:32:35) Science doesn’t have an alignment, it’s what we do with it.
(00:35:01) Science is fluid and has so much scope.
(00:36:43) Fake science and the narrative around it is evocative.
(00:38:13) Science fiction into science fact.
(00:39:05) Writing ‘There Are (No) Stupid Questions … in Science’.
(00:42:05) Making people excited about science again.
(00:45:39) The accessible nature of a book like this.
(00:47:10) Being selective about what community questions to answer.
(00:48:11) Randall Munroe (xkcd).
(00:49:35) Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work?
(00:50:18) Powerlifting is complementary to Leah’s optimal workflow.
(00:51:35) Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you?
(00:52:51) Michele’s favourite childhood book.
(00:54:10) ‘Where’s Waldo?’
(00:55:18) Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore?
(00:58:54) Finding out more about Leah and their work.

Additional Resources


Connect with Us

Support STEAM Powered

Review Us

Please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, GoodPods, Podchaser, or your preferred podcatcher.

Become a Patron

Become a patron
Ko-Fi button iconSupport me on Ko-fi

Affiliate Programs

Buy your books from BookDepository. There are over 20 million titles and you get free delivery worldwide to over 150 countries on every order. Want some ideas? Check out the list of every book mentioned in our conversations, or authored by our guests.

Start your own podcast or YouTube channel, or run panels and seminars with Record up to 8 people in a session with up to 1000 audience members. You can record in advance as I do, or you can livestream with the option to send it straight to Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, or Twitch. There's even a green-room for guests and live call in for audience members. Afterwards, get separate video (up to 4K) and audio (up to 48kHz) tracks per recorded participant for editing, none of that “active speaker only” limitation. You know you're in good hands with a service whose client-base includes some heavy-hitters. Check out to see who else is on board. Use promo code STEAM25 to get 25% off the first three months of your subscription.

Music is “Gypsy Jazz in Paris 1935” by Brett Van Donsel.