Jerome Groopman wins 2006 Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Reporting

Jerome Groopman, a staff writer at The New Yorker and a professor of medicine at Harvard, has been awarded the 2006 Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting for stories that combine sensitivity to patients’ concerns with a thoughtful analysis of issues and controversies in medicine.

In articles for the magazine, Groopman has critiqued the war on cancer, questioned the rationale behind common spinal surgery, argued for government funding of stem cell research and looked at the ethical concerns involved in studying complications in pregnant women.

The prize, for a body of work published or broadcast within the last five years, was created 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.

The $3,000 award will be presented on Oct. 29, 2006, in Baltimore, MD, at an awards dinner held during the council’s 44th annual New Horizons in Science briefing for reporters.

Groopman was recognized by the judges for the quiet authority, meticulous reporting and original thinking that characterize his coverage of a broad range of medical stories. In his nominating letter, New Yorker editor David Remnick said, “Groopman’s pieces frequently challenge conventional medical wisdom and common perceptions about illness.” He noted that Groopman “brings an expert’s understanding and a journalist’s skepticism to complex and timely medical issues.”

Groopman holds the Dina and Raphael Recanati Chair of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and serves as chief of experimental medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. His research focuses on the basic mechanisms of cancer and AIDS. He has been a staff writer at The New Yorker in medicine and biology since 1998 and is the author of three books, including The Anatomy of Hope, published in 2003.

This year’s entries were judged by Ben Patrusky, CASW’s executive director; CASW President Cristine Russell, a freelance writer and fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government; Robert Lee Hotz, a science writer for the Los Angeles Times and president of the National Association of Science Writers; and Paul Raeburn, a New York City-based journalist and the New Horizons program director.

This is the seventh presentation of the Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting. The inaugural award went to Laurie Garrett of Newsday and Lawrence K. Altman of The New York Times. Subsequent recipients were Jon Palfreman, who has made more than 30 documentaries for public television; Daniel Q. Haney, the now-retired medical editor of The Associated Press; Shannon Brownlee, a widely published magazine and newspaper journalist; Michelle Trudeau, a reporter for National Public Radio; and Rick Weiss, science writer for The Washington Post.

The award honors the late Washington Post medical writer 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.