Translating gene drive science to promote linguistic diversity in community and stakeholder engagement

Cynthia Cheung, Stephanie Gamez, Rebeca Carballar-Lejarazú, Victor Ferman, Váleri N. Vásquez, Gerard Terradas, Judy Ishikawa, Cynthia E. Schairer, Ethan Bier, John M. Marshall, Anthony A. James, Omar S. Akbari, Cinnamon S. Bloss

Global Public Health
June 26, 2020

Information about genetic engineering (GE) for vector control in the United States is disseminated primarily in English, though non-English speakers are equally, and in some geographic regions even more affected by such technologies. Non-English-speaking publics should have equal access to such information, which is especially critical when the technology in question may impact whole communities. We convened an interdisciplinary workgroup to translate previously developed narrated slideshows on gene drive mosquitoes from English into Spanish, reviewing each iteration for scientific accuracy and accessibility to laypeople. Using the finalised stimuli, we conducted five online, chat-based focus groups with Spanish-speaking adults from California. Overall, participants expressed interest in the topic and were able to summarise the information presented in their own words. Importantly, participants asked for clarification and expressed scepticism about the information presented, indicating critical engagement with the material. Through collaboration with Spanish-speaking scientists engaged in the development of GE methods of vector control, we translated highly technical scientific information into Spanish that successfully engaged Spanish-speaking participants in conversations about this topic. In this manuscript, we document the feasibility of consulting Spanish-speaking publics about a complex emerging technology by drawing on the linguistic diversity of the scientific teams developing the technology. 



Featured Fellows

Váleri N. Vásquez

Energy and Resources Group
BIDS Data Science Fellow