Sharing science creatively

Published September 01 2016

Bachinsky is the force behind Molecular Creativity. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID BACHINKSY

David Bachinsky launched the company Molecular Creativity in the late 1990s and created a Facebook page of the same name a decade later. His wide-ranging coverage of the whole of molecular biology and biochemistry and his frenetic posting style have made the Facebook page something of a social media phenomenon among scientists and science lovers. He also is active on Twitter with almost 5,000 followers.

Bachinsky did postdoctoral research in pathology, genetics and molecular biology at Massachusetts General Hospital and then became an instructor in nephrology at Tufts University. He followed that up with a position funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Harvard Medical School.

Sapeck Agrawal spoke to him about his background, how the Facebook page came to be and what inspires its upkeep. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

When did you start the page,

and what motivated you to do it?

Molecular Creativity was incorporated in Massachusetts in 1998 after I finished as a research fellow in genetics at Harvard Medical School. I had decided to not go the academic route but to try consulting — with mixed success. The company ended as a corporation in 2007 when I became a resident scholar and senior scientist at (the biotech company) Intrexon. It was relaunched in 2009 as a mechanism to get some consulting opportunities.

Molecular Creativity’s social media feeds highlight interesting science.

What stories interest you?

My interests in molecular, biochemical and cell biology as related mainly to humans are what dominate the Facebook posts. Ideally, the takeaway message for visitors to the page is that health science is really interesting and it can be fun to learn new stuff that makes connections that might have been considered separate and distinct areas of research. I hope to fertilize new ideas in my diverse audience, which seems to be international. 

How much time do you spend on the page?

I work alone and post information periodically throughout the day, depending on my schedule. I have about 5,000 followers on Twitter, so I post more stuff on that site — like links to articles — but a subset of those tweets get posted on Facebook. A few hours per week are spent updating information. 

Which story has been the most popular so far?

There was a video from Eric Green (director of the National Human Genome Research Institute) that did well about the genomic landscape — history and future directions of genomics from the perspectives of the NHGRI. Reviews and videos seem to get more attention than research articles.

What is the most rewarding aspect of maintaining a page like this?

I like sharing information that I find interesting. I populated a cork board in a hallway with the front pages of the Journal of Biological Chemistry and related journals while a Ph.D. student. I ran the continuing medical education pathology seminar series while at Massachusetts General Hospital. I think communicating science and medical information is an important first step in obtaining funding and support from individuals who might be ignorant of the great progress in biochemical, genetic and medical sciences.

Sapeck Agrawal Sapeck Agrawal is a medical and science writer with a Ph.D. in molecular biology. For more stories, visit her blog.