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Project Group 1: Science Communication

Mirjam Jenny

The coronavirus pandemic has shown how difficult it is to communicate the facts, risks and uncertainties around health topics effectively and with transparence.

Three crumpled yellow papers on green surface surrounded by yellow lined papers. Source: © Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash© Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Yet, this task is enormously important to avoid uncertainty and to enable a better understanding among different target audiences - be it health professionals, politicians or the general public. In the Science Communication project group we work with research results and information out of the Robert Koch Institute in order to present them in an appropriate manner to various target groups. To this end, we use methods from empirical cognitive and behavioural sciences, such as the development and testing of various communication formats and media.

Research Topics

The research topics of the Science Communication project group can be placed at the interface between cognitive science, computer science and medicine. In particular, we focus on topics like (digital) risk literacy, risk communication, algorithm-based decision support and medical decision making.

The Museum

The Museum at the RKI which is now part of the project group has developed into a Public Health Visiting Centre since its renovation in 2017. A window to science at the Robert Koch Institute, we communicate about current topics relevant to public health today, the shift in the last 100 years with respect to infection prevention and research methods, as well as the history of the institute. Our exhibits include some of Robert Koch's possessions, as well as modern visual and media installations.

» Museum at the Robert Koch Institute

Group Members

Dr. Esther-Maria Antão, Head of the museum
Dr. Ines Lein, Scientific coordinator
Dr. Christina Leuker, Research associate


» Harding Center for Risk Literacy at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Potsdam:
Research and development of methods and instruments that enable informed, risk-literate and efficient decisions in an increasingly digitalised everyday life.

» Max-Planck-Institute for Human Development, emeritus group Gigerenzer and
» Center for Adaptive Rationality:
Development of instruments for different areas, e.g. medicine, consumer protection and natural hazards that explain probabilities and uncertainties in a transparent manner to a lay audience.

» Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom:
Research on communication of risks and uncertainty on medical topics.

» Prof. Claudia Spies and Dr. Niklas Keller, Charité Center Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine:
Development of decision support tools for critical medical situations; research on risk communication and the interpretation and communication of medical statistics.

» Prof. Roland Bingisser, University Hospital Basel:
Development of algorithms that enable a more precise diagnosis of emergency patients with unspecific symptoms with little effort.

Date: 14.08.2020


  • Fleischhut N, Jenny MA (2019): Kommunikationsproblem Naturgefahren: Wie lassen sich Hochwasserrisiken transparent und verständlich darstellen? (Studie im Auftrag des Sachverständigenrats für Verbraucherfragen)
    Berlin: Sachverständigenrat für Verbraucherfragen. more

  • Schirren C, Lein I, Diel F, Jenny MA (2019): Risikokommunikation: Zahlen können Verwirrung stiften.
    Dt. Arztebl. 116 (38): A1642-A1646, A5. more

  • Jenny MA, Keller N, Gigerenzer G (2018): Assessing minimal medical statistical literacy using the Quick Risk Test: A prospective observational study in Germany
    BMJ Open 8: e020847. Epub Oct 18. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020847. more

  • Keller N, Jenny MA, Gigerenzer G, Ablin RJ (2018): PSA-Screening: Möglicher Nutzen und Schaden.
    Dt. Arztebl. 115 (13): A 583-A 587, A 5. more

  • Jenny MA (2017): Improving risk literacy. 17 (4): 278-279. more

  • Jenny MA, Hertwig R, Ackermann S, Messmer AS, Karakoumis J, Nickel CH, Bingisser R (2015): Are mortality and acute morbidity in patients presenting with nonspecific complaints predictable using routine variables?
    Acad. Emerg. Med. 22 (10): 1155–1163. Epub Sep 16. doi: 10.1111/acem.12755. more

  • Jenny MA, Pachur T, Williams SL, Becker E, Margraf J (2013): Simple rules for detecting depression.
    J. Appl. Res. Mem. Cogn. 2 (3): 149-157. Epun Jun 24. doi: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2013.06.001. more