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Science mental health reporter Constance Holden wins award for 2003 stories
Constance Holden, a veteran staff writer for the journal Science, has won an award from the National Mental Health Association for four stories she wrote in 2003 exploring new developments in the understanding and treatment of schizophrenia, depression and other mental health issues.
At an awards ceremony Friday 11 June, during NMHA's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., Holden will be one of 10 U.S. journalists honored for excellence in mental health news and feature reporting.
"The judges picked the pieces written by Constance Holden because she was writing about new research in a way that was accessible," said Chris Condayan, the association's director of media relations. "She took seemingly complex subject matter and wrote it clearly, so that the public could understand it and get excited about it. And it inspired hope in finding a cure for mental illness."
"This is a very well-deserved award," said Science News Editor Colin Norman. "Constance is a dogged reporter and clear writer who for years has been one of the top reporters covering the science of mental health. I'm delighted that the Association has recognized her work."
Holden joined Science in 1970, and has long explored the biological and genetic bases for human behavior.
One of the stories that helped her capture the NMHA award was "Excited by Glutamate," [Science, 20 June 2003] which focused on new drugs that were being developed to act on glutamate receptors in the braindrugs which could produce new treatments for anxiety, depression, addiction and schizophrenia. Glutamate is the brain's most pervasive neurotransmitter.
Another of the winning stories was "Future Brightening for Depression Treatments," [Science, 31 October 2003]. It described how the latest research findings were creating a new era of treatment for the world's most common mental health problem. Further, the story said, "the hunt for new drug targets is unveiling depression's commonalties with a host of other diseases and conditions, including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Cushing syndrome, pain, and epilepsy."
Two other stories filled out Holden's winning portfolio: "Deconstructing Schizophrenia," [Science, 17 January 2003], about research on cognition and cognitive disruption that is shedding new light on the intractable and often devastating mental illness; and "Getting the Short End of the Allele," [Science, 18 July 2003], about the discovery of a gene that helps determine whether people get depressed in response to stress.
Science, published by AAAS, is the world's most prestigious science journal, reaching an estimated one million readers each week through print and various online distribution channels.
Among other winners were journalists for the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and ABC News.
The winners were selected by a panel of journalists who volunteered to judge hundreds of entries received by the association. Judges for the 2003 stories were Libby Lewis of National Public Radio; Jim Spellman of CNN; Allen Pusey of The Dallas Morning News; and Marianne Szegedy-Maszak of U.S. News & World Report.
The National Mental Health Association is the country's oldest and largest nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental illness. With more than 340 affiliates nationwide, NMHA works to improve the mental health of all Americans through advocacy, education, research, and service.
Edward W. Lempinen
11 June 2004