Medical writers labor under an enhanced sense of responsibility. Their stories have the power not only to stimulate a reader’s imagination but also to affect his or her health. We’ve had readers tell us that while reading a description of symptoms in a Science News article, they first recognized that they had a disease. Others say that their treatment for a previously diagnosed condition was changed after they brought their doctor a copy of a story about a new therapeutic approach.
We are especially pleased when an organization dedicated to the welfare of people with a particular medical condition recognizes our writers’ contribution to public knowledge of medicine. In the most recent example, the Epilepsy Foundation on Oct. 26 honored Science News writer Damaris Christensen with its magazine award for her article “Endgame for Epilepsy?” (see Endgame for Epilepsy?).
The judges noted that the article, published June 3, 2000, “offers the public and people with epilepsy a clear and concise summary of current research and future direction of the scientific effort to conquer the disorder.” They said that they were especially impressed by the large number of scientists that Damaris had consulted in preparation of the article and “the success with which [she has] interpreted this complex topic for the lay reader.”
Damaris has been a biomedical writer for more than 5 years. Before she joined Science News as a writer in 1999, she was the Washington correspondent for Medical Tribune, a daily wire service. She has a master’s degree from New York University’s Science and Environmental Reporting Program.
Her award-winning article notes that although drug and surgical treatments have improved over many decades of research, seizures aren’t completely controlled in about 20 percent of people with epilepsy. In the article, Damaris describes recent advances in genetics, molecular biology, imaging techniques, and bioengineering that make scientists optimistic that they’re finally on the way to a cure for the disease.