My top 3 favorite CIRM elevator pitches

CIRM recently held an “elevator pitch” (also sometimes known as an “elevator speech”) contest amongst its grantees. The San Francisco Chronicle even covered this contest (and also here).

Kevin McCormack, Sr. Director of Public Communications and Patient Advocate Outreach at CIRM, described the contest in, appropriately enough, a speech. As best as I can tell 56 scientists participated.

By way of disclosure, I participated in the contest myself too (My own pitch). All the videos can be watched here.

The rules?

The speech cannot be longer 30 seconds.

You can see the speeches on YouTube at #SciencePitch. Note that the majority of the candidate speeches are way over 30 seconds.

For me, those pitches shouldn’t be in the running since they are too long. Call me a stickler, but an elevator speech must be super short. So I only considered those speeches that were 31 seconds or shorter for my top 3. Still there were some longer ones that were pretty cool.

You’ll also note that some of the talks were (in my opinion) overly produced to include fancy graphics, text, even sounds effects, etc.

I also disqualify those (sorry, USCKeck) for the purpose of choosing my favorite because the point of an elevator pitch is that the scientist must give their 30 seconds without any fancy props or anything.

I also like enthusiasm in elevator speeches, so monotone, emotionless delivery is a no-no. Conversely there were a few otherwise good ones where the scientist was so excited they were almost yelling into the camera. That’s too much, especially in an elevator!

So which ones would I choose?

Below are my favorite 3 elevator speeches, starting with my #1 favorite.

#1, Jonathan Lam, UCLA

#2, Anjana Nityanandam, Scripps Research Institute

#3, Stefano Da Sacco, CHLA


Some other favorites (including some that didn’t quite follow the rules).

Jeanne Loring, Scripps

Michael Rothenberg, Stanford

Andrew Goldstein, UCLA

Amy Sprowles, Humboldt State University

Ron Piran, Sanford-Burnham


  1. It’s my blog so, yeah, I can make up the rules for my blog posts, which is all this is–one blog post about which pitches I happen to like. Who reads it anyway?
    For all I know CIRM loves sound effects, cool graphics, etc. and they decide the real winners. And to my knowledge CIRM indeed has no rules against this stuff.
    But really aren’t we all winners just for being part of this great competition? It’s just a fun contest done by CIRM to help scientists become better communicators.In my opinion it shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

  2. I agree that every scientist that tries to make their ideas understandable to the general public is a winner since we need a better educated public and need to spark interest in potential future scientists by getting these messages out.

    Your blog, your rules. sounds fair enough to me.

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