Tag Archives: genetics

When writing about SARS-CoV-2 variants, utilize metaphors

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

An electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (round gold objects) emerging from the surface of lab-cultured cells.

Photo: NIAID via FlickrAn electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (round gold objects) emerging from the surface of lab-cultured cells.

Writing about how the various COVID-19 vaccines work and the challenges that may lie with emerging genetic variants of SARS-CoV-2 can be challenging for journalists, as it requires explaining the technicalities of genetics in layman’s terms.

Independent journalist Marla Broadfoot, who has a doctorate in genetics and molecular biology, suggests using metaphors and asking sources to elaborate on favorite metaphors they’ve used to explain virus genetics and the COVID-19 vaccine to family and friends. Continue reading

Award-winning genetics reporter shares her process

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Tina Saey

Tina Hesman Saey

Sometimes exploring a topic requires more than one story … or three … and sometimes it involves a bit of personal investment. Such was the case for a multi-part series Tina Hesman Saey wrote on consumer DNA testing for Science News.

The investigation took months and paid off in a richly reported, in-depth story that helps readers understand what DNA tests can — and can’t — tell them with an intimacy rarely found in science reporting. Continue reading

Parental life span may foretell a daughter’s healthy aging

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic leader on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: theunquietlibrarian via Flickr

Like mother, like daughter? Maybe so when it comes to healthy aging, according to a recent study.

Daughters whose birth mothers lived to age 90 or beyond were 25 percent more likely to also live to at least 90. They also had fewer, if any, age-related diseases when compared with women whose mothers died before age 80, researchers at the University of San Diego found in the study published in the Aug. 15 edition of the journal Age and Ageing. Continue reading

Gene therapy development on the rise but costs remain an issue

About Markian Hawryluk

Markian Hawryluk (markianhawryluk) covers health and fitness issues for The (Bend, Ore.) Bulletin. He has won numerous awards for his health writing from AHCJ and the Society of Professional Journalists and won the 2009 Bruce Baer Award for Investigative Journalism. In 2012, he was named a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan.

After decades of unfulfilled promises and setbacks, the field of gene therapy broke through with three FDA-approved products last year, ushering in what is likely to be a rapid escalation of new treatments for some of the rarest and most debilitating diseases.

“Part of the idea of the Human Genome project was that once we had the identity of all the genes, it would be important and straight forward for us to development more therapeutic options for people with serious inherited diseases, said Katherine High, M.D., president and director of research and development for Philadelphia-based Spark Therapeutics. “But it turned out this took a little longer to do than the Human Genome project.” Continue reading

Researchers identify new genetic stroke risk factors

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic leader on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Image: Geoff Hutchison via Flickr

One of the largest analyses of stroke factors ever conducted is providing scientists with new clues to identify stroke mechanisms and potential treatments. Researchers have identified 22 new genetic risk factors, tripling the number of gene regions known to affect stroke risk.

By mining an enormous trove of data, a team of international researchers obtained critical new insights into the specific genes, molecular pathways, and cell and tissue types through which the new genetic risk factors cause a stroke. Continue reading