Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting
CASW established the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting in 2000. Given annually, the prize seeks to honor a writer for a body of work published or broadcast within the last five years which, for reasons of uncommon clarity, accuracy, breadth of coverage, enterprise, originality, insight and narrative power, has made a profound and lasting contribution to public awareness and understanding of critical advances in medical science and their impact on human health and well-being.
Beginning in 2023, the Cohn Prize is generously underwritten by Michelson Philanthropies, a Los Angeles-based philanthropic foundation devoted to supporting medical research, equity in education, and improving animal welfare.
The honoree receives an award of $5,000 and a certificate. The prize is presented at a joint awards ceremony held in conjunction with ScienceWriters, a conference that combines CASW’s New Horizons in Science briefings and the National Association of Science Writers’ workshops. Awardee travel expenses to the award ceremony are covered.
Winners of the Victor Cohn Prize
- 2023 – Maryn McKenna awarded 2023 Victor Cohn Prize
- 2022 – Pam Belluck, The New York Times, and Stephanie M. Lee, for stories published by BuzzFeed News
- 2021 – Helen Branswell, STAT, and Amy Maxmen, Nature
- 2020 – Ed Yong, The Atlantic
- 2019 – Apoorva Mandavilli, Spectrum
- 2018 – Laura Beil, freelance medical writer
- 2017 – Sharon Begley, STAT
- 2016 – Liz Szabo, USA Today and Kaiser Health News
- 2015 – Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
- 2014 – Elisabeth Rosenthal, The New York Times
- 2013 – John Fauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Joanne Silberner, radio journalist
- 2012 – Jon Cohen, Science
- 2011 – Ron Winslow, The Wall Street Journal
- 2010 – Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
- 2009 – Denise Grady, The New York Times
- 2008 – Joe Palca, National Public Radio
- 2007 – Geeta Anand, staff writer, The Wall Street Journal
- 2006 – Jerome Groopman, staff writer, The New Yorker
- 2005 – Rick Weiss, reporter, The Washington Post
- 2004 – Michelle Trudeau, reporter, National Public Radio
- 2003 – Shannon Brownlee, freelance reporter
- 2002 – Daniel Q. Haney, medical editor, The Associated Press
- 2001 – Jon Palfreman, freelance documentary filmmaker
- 2000 – Laurie Garrett, reporter, Newsday, and Lawrence K. Altman, reporter, The New York Times
The nominating process
Editors, colleagues, scientists and others familiar with the candidate’s body of work may proffer nominations. Individuals may nominate themselves, but are encouraged to submit at least one letter of support from a knowledgeable colleague. Nominators of candidates for the 2024 prize may submit up to five examples of the candidate’s journalistic endeavors, all published or aired since January 2019. Eligible writing includes work appearing in digital media. Books are not eligible. Submitted work must be published in English-language media that reach a US audience. Letters of nomination should include an assessment of the nominee’s body of work along with a biographical sketch.
Online application or nomination
Nominators and candidates must submit materials through Submittable during the submission window beginning each January 1. Letters of support may be uploaded either as part of the nomination package or via a separate submission form provided for recommenders.
The annual deadline for submission of nominations is June 30.
About Victor Cohn
As science and medical reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune and then science editor, science and medical reporter and health columnist for the Washington Post, Victor Cohn was renowned for the clarity, honesty, robustness, fairness and effectiveness of his reporting. He was at the forefront of coverage of virtually every major advance in medicine over the last five decades, from the triumph of the Salk polio vaccine and the first human experiments with cancer chemotherapy to the eradication of smallpox and the manipulation of human genes.
He was the first triple winner of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award for newspaper reporting and the first two-time winner of both the National Association of Science Writers’ Science-in-Society Award and the AAAS-Westinghouse (now the AAAS Kavli) Science Journalism Award.
In 1959, Cohn co-founded the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. In 1961, he was elected to a two-year term as president of NASW. Cohn is the author of several books, including News and Numbers, a widely used journalists’ guide for interpreting and reporting statistical data in medical and scientific reports.