Geeta Anand Wins 2007 Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Reporting

Geeta Anand, a New York-based senior special writer for the Wall Street Journal‘s investigative group, has been awarded the 2007 Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting for a powerful series of exhaustively reported stories displaying extraordinary narrative technique, emotional power, and sharp, intelligent analysis.

The annual prize, for a body of work published or broadcast within the past five years, was established in 2000 by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, a non-profit organization of journalists and scientists committed to improving the quality of science news reaching the public.

In articles for the Journal, Anand has turned her skills on the crisis confronting a biotech company when it was asked to provide an experimental drug for a dying child; on the issues raised by the use of a $600,000-per-year biotechnology drug; and on how rare diseases can become huge money makers for drug companies.

The judges noted her “admirable display of narrative power” and said that she “combined the perspective of a business journalist with the heart of a sensitive and empathetic reporter.” Anand’s stories turn complicated business and medical issues into engaging human tales “that hold the reader spellbound all the way,” the judges said.

In his nominating letter, Journal Page One Editor Michael W. Miller noted that Anand “has explored the ethical challenges confronting physicians, scientists, companies and families as breathtaking advances in science are turned into treatments for life-threatening illnesses.” She has also “written hard-hitting stories questioning the prices companies are charging for new medicines, exposing the enormous profit margins they carry and the effect of the high prices on patients’ access to the drugs.”

Anand joined the Journal‘s Boston bureau in 1998 and in 2001 moved to the New York bureau to cover biotechnology. She formerly worked for the Boston Globe, the Rutland (VT) Herald, and the Cape Cod News. She is the author of a 2006 book, The Cure: How A Father Raised $100 Million and Bucked the Medical Establishment in a Quest to Save his Children. Born in Mumbai, Anand is a graduate of Dartmouth College. She is a member of the South Asian Journalists Association.

The prize, consisting of a $3,000 check and a certificate, will be presented in Spokane, Wash., on Oct. 21, 2007, at the annual awards banquet held jointly by the CASW and the National Association of Science Writers. The banquet will be held in conjunction with the NASW Science in Society meeting and the CASW’s 45th annual New Horizons in Science Briefing.

This year’s entries were judged by Ben Patrusky, CASW’s executive director; Mariette DiChristina, vice president of NASW and executive editor of Scientific American; Cristine Russell, a freelance writer and senior fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; and Paul Raeburn, a New York City-based journalist and the New Horizons program director.

This is the eighth presentation of the Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting. The initial award was shared by Laurie Garrett of Newsday and Lawrence K. Altman of The New York Times. Subsequent recipients were Jon Palfreman of WGBH-TV; Daniel Q. Haney, the now-retired medical editor of Associated Press; Shannon Brownlee, a freelance journalist; Michelle Trudeau of National Public Radio; Rick Weiss of the Washington Post; and Jerome Groopman of The New Yorker.

The award honors the late Washington Post medical reporter Victor Cohn, who distinguished himself by the clarity, honesty and effectiveness of his reporting during a 50-year-career. He was also a co-founder of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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