Author Archives: Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Grant will allow comprehensive tracking of journal retractions

Adam Marcus

Adam Marcus

Ivan Oransky

Ivan Oransky

A $400,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation will be used to create a database of retractions from scientific journals, extending the work done by  Adam Marcus and AHCJ Vice President Ivan Oransky on their Retraction Watch blog.

The grant was awarded to the Center for Scientific Integrity, a nonprofit organization set up by Marcus and Oransky. Continue reading

Contest entries provide insights, education into reporting

One of the most inspiring parts of my job comes every spring: That’s when I get to see the winning entries in the Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism.

Often they are pieces I’ve seen over the previous year – many of which I’ve blogged or tweeted about or we’ve had the reporters write about their work for us. But there are always a few surprises that I had missed when they were published or aired.

Andrew Holtz, a health news veteran and longtime contest judge, has had the same experience. “Like most AHCJ members, I follow health news closely. Still, several of the entries surprised me. Not only were they delightful pieces of journalism, they revealed stories I hadn’t known,” Holtz said in an email. Continue reading

New funding will allow to resume, expand

Gary Schwitzer

Gary Schwitzer

AHCJ member Gary Schwitzer has announced that the website he publishes,, has received a two-year grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

The site, known for its systematic reviews and ratings of news stories about health care, had been funded since 2005 by the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation but lost its funding July 1, 2013. Continue reading

On the move: Latest news about AHCJ members

The latest report on AHCJ members’ awards, fellowships, job changes and other news includes Christie Aschwanden, Jennifer Boen, Karen Brown, Pieter Droppert, Ellen Durckel Vestewig, Pamela Fayerman, Nancy Finn, Kristin Gourlay, Tara Haelle, Harriet Hodgson, Naseem Miller, Crissinda Ponder, Maria Ortiz Briones, Joe Rojas-Burke, Liz Seegert and Emily Willingham. Continue reading

Lindberg, NLM’s health informatics pioneer, to retire


National Library of MedicineNLM Director Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg, with artwork inspired by NLM’s Visible Human Project.

Don Lindberg, M.D., who has served as director of the National Library of Medicine for more than 30 years, will retire at the end of March 2015.

In a statement, Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health, described Lindberg as “an expert and groundbreaking innovator in the world of information technology, artificial intelligence, computer-aided medical diagnosis, and electronic health records.”

Lindberg, under whose tenure the AHCJ-NLM Health Journalism Fellowships were developed, was the first president of the American Medical Informatics Association. The organization says that many of its members “have benefitted from his strong leadership in training programs, research activities, and educational programs.” The AMIA recognizes his contributions to the field with its annual Donald A.B. Lindberg Award for Innovations in Informatics.

Collins described many of Lindberg’s contributions, many of which are tools regularly used by health journalists, with some historical perspective:

Don has created programs that changed fundamentally the way biomedical information is collected, shared, and analyzed. Think about it-when Don began, NLM had no electronic journals in its collection, few people owned personal computers, and even fewer had access to the Internet. He introduced numerous landmark projects such as free Internet access to MEDLINE via PubMed, MedlinePlus for the general public, the Visible Human Project,, the Unified Medical Language System, and more. Don also created the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). NCBI has been a focal point for “Big Data” in biomedicine for decades, providing rapid access to the data generated by the Human Genome Project and now to massive amounts of genetic sequence data generated from evolving high-throughput sequencing technologies. GenBank, PubMed Central, and dbGaP are just some of the many NCBI databases that support and enable access to the results of research funded by NIH and many other organizations.

According to the NLM website, Lindberg is the author of three books, several book chapters and more than 200 articles and reports. He has served as editor and editorial board member of nine publications, including the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Journalist offered money to cover Alzheimer’s briefing

A representative of Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, which treats and researches Alzheimer’s disease, has issued invitations to cover an hour-long briefing hosted by its principal scientist.

Image by Logan Campbell via flickr.

Image by Logan Campbell via flickr.

The lure?

“Participants will receive $100 for their commitment to write about the impact of Alzheimer’s and what readers can do to help combat the disease.”

Continue reading

When covering health insurance is personal

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga

California journalist Randy Dotinga has written several pieces about his own efforts to obtain health insurance. His “long-running tale of woe” features several twists and turns but it isn’t that unusual in the grim world of 21st-century health insurance in the United States.

Since 2000, I’ve been jilted by a grand total of seven insurance companies. The eighth — the one covering me now — comes courtesy of Obamacare and looks like it might actually stick around for a while. Expensive? Yes. A relief? Absolutely.

What is unusual is for a journalist who covers health and medicine to be so open about his own experiences. In an article for AHCJ, he offers journalists some tips on how to do the same.

A collection of the latest Ebola stories, resources

 Photo: NIAID via Flickr

Photo: NIAID via Flickr

What I’m reading about Ebola today:

Possible second Ebola case in Dallas,” which may, of course, be related to “Experts question two-day delay in admitting Texas Ebola patient.” And now we learn that the “Ebola patient told hospital he had been to Liberia,” as well make use of a helpful interactive graphic on how contact tracing works. (Edited to add that last link.)

BioWorld Today has compiled a list of resources and stories about Ebola: “Special Report: The Push to Contain Ebola Virus.”

The World Health Organization has a page for Ebola situation assessments that it says will be updated Wednesday afternoon with information about a clinical trial of a vaccine. Continue reading

Resources for covering Ebola following Texas patient’s diagnosis

Image via CDC

Image via CDC

With today’s announcement of the first Ebola case to be diagnosed in the U.S., it’s worth brushing up on the facts about the virus to help your readers, viewers and listeners understand.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is hosting a briefing at 5:30 p.m. ET about the case, diagnosed in a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. Expected to speak during that briefing:

  • Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H, director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • David Lakey, M.D., commissioner, Texas Department of State Health Services
  • Edward Goodman, M.D., FACP, FIDSA, FSHEA, hospital epidemiologist, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas
  • Zachary Thompson, M.A., director, Dallas County Health and Human Services

And here are some resources to use in your reporting: Continue reading

Latest awards, fellowships and job changes for AHCJ members

Photo: Brad.K via Flickr

Photo: Brad.K via Flickr

The latest AHCJ members making news include Loren BonnerPamela BrewerKaty ButlerJoe Carlson, Phil Cauthon, Catherine Dold, Robert A. Duke, Nancy B. Finn, Stephanie M. Lee, Laura PutreLiz Seegert and Eric Whitney. See more about them here:

Loren Bonner is now a reporter for the publications of the American Pharmacists Association, including Pharmacy Today and Her last position was with DOTmed News as online editor.

Pamela Brewer (@MyNDTALK) has launched a website about her daily podcast on health and relationships.

Katy Butler‘s award-winning 2013 examination of American end-of-life health care, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death,” was named a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction.

Joe Carlson (@_JoeCarlson) is covering medical technology, including Medtronic and medtech devicemakers, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Carlson was previously with Modern Healthcare.

Phil Cauthon is director of communications for the Sunflower Foundation.

The second edition of “The Recovery Book,” by Al J. Mooney, III, M.D., Howard Eisenberg and Catherine Dold, has been released. It is about what to expect when in recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Robert A. Duke was appointed health care columnist for Whatcom Watch, a monthly online and print newspaper in Bellingham, Wash. Duke’s column is titled “Whatcom: Chronic & Acute” and it covers health care reform and practice in Whatcom County, 90 miles north of Seattle.

The updated 2014 edition of Nancy B. Finn’s book, “e-Patients Live Longer, The Complete Guide to Managing Health Care Using Technology,” includes a simple update on the meaningful use statute and a comprehensive chapter that helps patients understand the Affordable Care Act.

Stephanie M. Lee was named a finalist in journalism in the 2014 PEN Center USA Literary Awards for a long-form piece about surrogacy in India.

Kimberly Leonard (@leonardkl), previously a producer for health rankings at U.S. News & World Report, has been promoted to the news desk as health care reporter.

McGraw-Hill Education has published the 11th edition of “Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications,” by Ricki Lewis, Ph.D.

Laura Putre won a gold award for feature writing from the Association of Healthcare Publication Editors and a Bronze Award from the Association of Business Publication Editors for her 2013 series “Generations in the Healthcare Workplace” in H&HN Magazine.

Liz Seegert, a freelance journalist and AHCJ’s topic leader on aging, has been selected as a Journalist in Aging Fellow by the Gerontological Society of America and New America Media. She will attend the annual GSA Meeting in November and will work on a multi-part radio series on ethnic and cultural responses to aging and caregiving.

Eric Whitney is news director at Montana Public Radio, based in Missoula. He was a Colorado-based independent journalist doing work for NPR, Kaiser Health News and other outlets.

Are you an AHCJ member with news about your career, such as a new job, fellowship or award? Send details and links to for inclusion in the next member news post.