18 must-follow Twitter accounts about health and medicine

At this time of year, “best of” lists abound: the top-selling books; the highest-impact papers; the 10 biotech stocks that most exceeded expectations.

This is not one of those lists.

Here at STAT, we’ve compiled a list of Twitter feeds to follow for insights into the worlds of health, medicine, and science. These aren’t necessarily the biggest names in social media. Or even the most important voices. They are simply people whose tweets we value. (We’ve put all these names into a Twitter list you can follow. Please note, you must be logged into Twitter to see this list.)

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If you aren’t here, it doesn’t mean we don’t love your Twitter feed. We assure you, @Atul_Gawande / @edyong209 / @matthewherper, we most certainly do.

It’s just that Twitter is an amazing smorgasbord. Here are some accounts to sample:

The BS detector: @CaulfieldTim
Tim Caulfield is a professor of health law and science policy at the University of Alberta. He knows how to read scientific studies. He knows when people are making health claims that aren’t backed by science. And he’s not afraid of calling out folks who do that. Case in point: his latest book, “Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?”

The Twitter scientist: @kejames
Not only does Karen James tweet about her research, which relates to identifying species by their DNA, but she also speaks at conferences about how scientists can better use Twitter. And she’s working on a project to retrace Charles Darwin’s famed voyage on the HMS Beagle. She’s a a staff scientist at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Maine.

The science sentinel: @greg_folkers
For anyone trying to follow infectious diseases science closely, Greg Folkers is like having a personal reader. Folkers is chief of staff to Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. If an important or interesting study is published, Folkers knows about it and tweets about it. Invaluable aggregation.

The end-of-life guru: @DianeEMeier
Anyone who has helped a loved one through a fatal illness knows we haven’t, as a society, done a great job of meeting the needs of people who are dying. But the focus on end-of-life care is growing, and Dr. Diane E. Meier, director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Hospital, is an acknowledged leader in this field.

The health care insider: @kevinmd
Primary care physician Kevin Pho offers a clinician’s bird’s-eye view of medicine through his tweets. He’s also the driving force behind kevinmd.com, which is kind of like a Huffington Post for clinicians, where 2,000 doctors, nurses, medical students, policy experts, and patients tell important stories.

The connected patient: @epatientdave
Cancer survivor Dave deBronkart spreads the gospel of “participatory medicine” — regular folks taking part in their medical care and in medical research.

The DeathXpert: @drlindseyfitz
There’s a touch of the macabre in the Twitter feed of medical historian, blogger, and author Lindsey Fitzharris. But it’s never dull.

The pharma watchdogs: @RxPricing
Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing keeps the spotlight on an issue that affects us all: the rising cost of prescription drugs. Their supporters are on the campaign trail, recording — literally — what the various candidates have to say about drug prices. They’ve even gathered those statements in a handy dandy archive.

The techie: @halletecco
Halle Tecco, who founded the digital health venture fund Rock Health, offers a unique perspective about entrepreneurship, digital health, and women in technology.

The Ignobel Mind: @MarcAbrahams
Marc Abrahams is the editor and cofounder of the Annals of Improbable Research. Do you need more? He originated and emcees the gloriously absurd annual Ig Nobel Prize awards. ‘Nuff said.

The med school dean: @jflier
Harvard Medical School dean Dr. Jeffrey Flier is an avid tweeter who comments on everything from Obamacare to Big Data analytics to (lately) “Star Wars”. He vows to become even more outspoken when he steps down from his administrative post next summer.

The digital health evangelist: @EricTopol
Cardiologist Dr. Eric Topol directs the Scripps Translational Science Institute. His tweets offer a tour of new medical technology and the intersection between research and clinical practice.

The patient’s friend: @vmontori
As a clinician, Dr. Victor Montori specializes in diabetes. But Montori does so much more at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He is director of community engagement. He is a keen advocate for evidence-based clinical practice. He is also a dogged proponent of shared decision-making and medicine that’s minimally disruptive to the person being treated.

The financier: @John_LaMattina
A former head of research and development at Pfizer, LaMattina is now a senior partner at PureTech Health, a venture capital firm. He uses Twitter to offer his take on corporate strategies, deals, and regulatory issues in the wide world of pharma.

The critical eye: @hmkyale
Yale cardiologist Dr. Harlan Krumholz is a super-smart researcher who constantly challenges the work of big medical journals and the scientific rigor — or lack thereof — applied to big-time studies.

The brain guy: @sapinker
Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker focuses on language and the brain, but also dips into far-flung fields of research. He helps us understand the connections between our minds, our actions, and our society.

The hip-hop evolutionist: @DNLee5
Danielle Lee, an animal behavioral scientist, has written a blog that uses hip-hop and rap songs to explain evolutionary biology. On Twitter, she writes often about the challenges facing scientists of color, including discrimination in research funding.

The zombie expert: @aetiology
Tara Smith studies zoonotic infections, or disease transmitted between other animals and humans. She sits on the advisory board of the Zombie Research Society and recently published a BMJ paper calling for “research and funding to prevent a zombie apocalypse.”

Ike Swetlitz and Patrick Skerrett contributed to this report.

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