Neal Baer has added another passion project to his busy sked. The “Under the Dome” showrunner, who is a licensed physician, has been named project scientist of the new Global Media Center for Social Impact at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health.
The center is designed to help bizzers and journos address public health issues through storytelling with an emphasis on education and advocacy for preventative medicine. Among the first projects Baer is spearheading is a drive to make short films to help African women learn how to live with HIV and keep their children from contracting the virus.
Baer will run the center with Sandra de Castro Buffington, a former faculty member of Johns Hopkins U. who has been a liaison with showbiz on public health issues for years through her work with the United States Agency for International Development and other orgs.
Baer sought out the project scientist post, even as he’s getting ready to reconvene the writers room for season two of CBS’ “Under the Dome” in December. He’s also shepherding pilot scripts for CBS and the CW. But Baer was intrigued by the center’s mission to be proactive and embrace non-traditional approaches to tackling public health crises.
“The center is going to study things like immigration, economic justice, LGBT issues, environmental exposure and violence — all of these things that have a profound impact on health on a day-to-day basis,” Baer said. “We want to find ways to use media and social media to help people understand and take charge of their health care needs.”