Llewellyn Cheung
12 October 2023
Zela Chin
8 July 2024

Alexandra Hoegberg

Science and health communicator used journalism skills for the public good

After graduating, Alexandra Hoegberg (MJ 2013) moved on to a job at Reuters News’ Hong Kong bureau. When she returned to her home country of Sweden a couple of year later, she pivoted to a career in life science communication, a field that aligned with her goal of being creative and contributing to the public good.

“Science communication is about translating complex scientific concepts into clear and concise language for the public,” she said. “Accuracy and trustworthiness are essential.” Reflecting on her JMSC training in reliable reporting, she said that “it’s about explaining scientific facts precisely, but ensuring everyone understands.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Alexandra worked as the head of global communications for the World Health Organization’s collaborating centre Uppsala Monitor Centre, which runs WHO’s program for international drug monitoring. The centre garnered a lot of interest from media and the public as Covid-19 vaccines started to roll out, since the centre collects side effect reports from medical products agencies across the world.

“I spent a lot of time working with journalists who contacted us, to make sure they had the full picture of vaccine development and safety,” Alexandra said. “We worked across all channels to debunk myths about scam medications, treatments, and counteract general vaccine hesitancy or anti-vax propaganda.”

“Clear information from scientists was essential,” Alexandra said. “We’re all patients at some point.”

Alexandra Hoegberg (second right) visits the laboratory of the Swedish pharmaceutical company BioArctic, the first company to ever get a treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease approved. Stockholm, 2023.

Alexandra at a live broadcast of an industry report

 Alexandra said the pandemic led to a more informed public. However, it also exposed shortcomings in communication. 

“The scientific community has to engage with the general public and with journalists much more than they have had before,” Alexandra said.  “We’re moving more and more in the direction where the public expects to have access to scientific institutions and experts through online channels.” 

This need for clear and consistent communication has opened doors for science communicators, Alexandra said, pointing to the rise of social media as a platform for researchers to connect directly with the public.

Beyond translating scientific jargon, Alexandra bridges the scientist—journalist gap, ensuring clear communication and trust. “Working with journalists means understanding their needs and verifying their stories,” she said. “Trust from both sides can be low, leading to scientific misreporting.”

 In 2021, Alexandra moved to SwedenBIO, the association for the Swedish life science industry, representing more than 350 companies in pharma, biotech, diagnostics and medtech. 

As SwedenBIO’s director of marketing and communications, Alexandra was involved in lobbying for the 2023 European Union pharmaceutical legislation. “I was working with public policy and communication to raise awareness among politicians and decision-makers, about the impact of the proposed draft for a new pharmaceutical legislation that came out last year,” Alexandra said. “SwedenBIO was one of a few key organisations that pushed for an amendment to a specific part of the legislation that concerned intellectual property rights, which would have undermined micro-sized and small life science companies’ chances to survive and keep developing medicines on the EU market.”

In 2024, Alexandra became the director of marketing and communications at Clinical Trial Consultants, a research organisation that conducts clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies. This new role has given her more creative freedom, including overseeing branding for the company to attract top talent in the competitive field. She had a lot of fun using her daughter’s Legos as part of a recruitment campaign.

Alexandra using her daughter’s Legos to create a recruitment campaign for her latest employer

Concept drawings for a children’s book about bacteria

She acknowledged the challenges in communicating the importance of clinical trials to the public, who may view them with skepticism. More broadly, the pharmaceutical industry itself could benefit from a better reputation and work on informing the public about the impact that pharmaceutical development has on public health.

An artist at heart, Alexandra finds creative expression through painting, drawing and other crafts projects. However, her most fascinating endeavor might be her latest one – a children’s book about bacteria. It debunks misconceptions and highlights their importance, while also addressing antibiotic resistance. 

“We’re facing a disaster with antibiotics becoming less and less efficient,” she warned.“By educating children from a young age, I hope to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for the complex world of science.”