01.05.19 #IOM50

Aimee Taaffe, Head of Marketing

Celebrating the uncelebrated

This year IOM (The Institute of Occupational Medicine) will celebrate its golden jubilee, a significant milestone for a company. I think it is safe to say there are very few companies that get to this anniversary. This short read will give you an overview of IOM, its work and why I think it is important to celebrate the research contributions over the last 50 years.

The Institute was founded in April 1969 as a charity to complete ground-breaking research on lung disease in coalmine workers. The research led to an understanding that coal mining not only caused the disease known as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis but also increased the risk of chronic obstructive lung disease, a condition commonly caused by tobacco smoking.

For the non-scientists, you may like me have been thinking ‘it should have been obvious working in a dirty environment would have ill-health effects.’ Actually no, throughout the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s there wasn’t the evidence to explicitly relate the two and not helping matters there would be groups of society deliberately trying to prevent and link knowledge in this area.

A modern-day comparable I relate this to is smoking in pubs. We did not fully understand the harmful consequences of it and yet 12 years on it seems obvious and has had life improving consequences - IOM's research has provided the evidence. An even more pertinent equivalent and growing problem is that of air pollution, we, at last, are waking up to the fact it is killing our most vulnerable in society.

Without the work carried out by institutes like IOM, evidence and knowledge of the obvious wouldn’t well…be obvious.

I joined IOM just over a year ago and have learned a huge amount about occupational and public health research, how the industry functions, work practicalities and the amount of time it takes to build knowledge and evidence. Before joining, I would never have been fully aware of the positive benefits research development has on the wider public in the short, medium and long term.

IOM’s purpose is to ‘improve people’s health and safety at work, at home and in the environment through excellent independent science.’ This year for #IOM50 we will be highlighting 50 of the most significant research achievements. This campaign will highlight the great work and great people of IOM past and present.

Equally important for me, it aims to highlight among the non-scientific community that research plays a vital role in preserving and extending our everyday lives. Moreover, my call-to-action for marketers is to do more and think creatively about supporting the science community to better disseminate the knowledge they work so hard to provide us.

My tenure has been relativity short compared to my colleagues who have been racking up decades. This means the expertise behind the scenes is nothing than first-class. The people delivering the work of IOM, by either research or business services, are undoubtedly some of the most experienced the UK has to offer.

I feel quite honoured to work here with these bright minds and know they are making a significant contribution to a healthier future for us all.

I hope you will follow our updates and help raise awareness and celebrate the uncelebrated.