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Science Writers Receive Awards For Stories on HIV/AIDS Funding, Brain Injuries

Two Science magazine writers have been awarded top honors for their stories on global HIV/AIDS funding and the subtle brain injuries suffered by Iraq war veterans.


Jon Cohen

For his seven-month investigation of how a sudden and major influx of HIV/AIDS funding has been spent in Western research labs and sub-Saharan African treatment and prevention programs, Science correspondent Jon Cohen received the 2009 Excellence in Media Award by the Global Health Council. The award was presented 28 May at the 36th Annual International Conference on Global Health in Washington, D.C.

Cohen's "HIV/AIDS: Money Matters" special section in the 25 July 2008 issue of Science, accompanied by a series of online videos and podcasts, reported on the successes and scandals of international HIV/AIDS funding in Uganda and Botswana, and provided a careful analysis of HIV/AIDS research grants by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

In their recognition of the Science series, the Global Health Council said Cohen's articles "demonstrate that despite donors pouring in billions in new money, the countries with the greatest epidemics are not necessarily on the receiving end, and the number of people in need of anti-HIV drugs is on the rise."

Science News Editor Colin Norman said the articles, coordinated and edited by Deputy News Editor Leslie Roberts, "show why Jon is the most widely followed and respected science reporter covering HIV/AIDS."

The award to Cohen, said Norman, "recognizes the kind of investigative reporting that cash-strapped media are increasingly reluctant to take on these days."


Yudhijit Bhattacharjee

Science writer Yudhijit Bhattacharjee will receive the 2009 Media Award from Mental Health America for his story on another timely and acute health issue: the hundreds of soldiers returning from the Iraq war who suffer the effects of blast trauma.

In his article published in the 25 January 2008 Science, Bhattacharjee examined new research that implicates the shock waves of a blast, rather than direct injury to the skull, in soldiers' symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury. The findings, he reported, could have a significant impact on how future soldiers are armed for battle and how returning veterans are compensated for disabilities.

The story, said Bhattacharjee, "is the kind of topic that excites all of us at Science magazine—a scientific mystery with a direct impact on people's lives."

"It's a topic where the science is unclear but the implications are huge," Norman agreed. "Yudhijit's story helped focus attention on the science and the wider issues, and this award will keep it there."

Bhattacharjee will receive the prize for "Shell Shock Revisited: Solving the Puzzle of Blast Trauma," edited by Deputy News Editor Eliot Marshall, on 13 June at the 2009 Mental Health America Centennial Conference in Washington, D.C.