Health Journalism 2015: Program

Overview | Wednesday/Thursday/Friday | Saturday/Sunday

Click to read descriptions of events having red arrows.


Wednesday, April 22

3-7 p.m.

Conference registration desk opens

Bayshore Foyer

Thursday, April 23

7 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Conference registration desk opens


8 a.m.-
4 p.m.

Field trips
There will be a limited number of seats on field trips to local research and health-related facilities. Information will be provided for signups in February.


9-11 a.m.

HIPAA: The ins, the outs, and how to navigate

Since Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in 1996, HIPAA has tortured just about everyone working in the health care field, not to mention journalists seeking to include the perspective of patients, clinicians and other key players in their reporting on the U.S. health care system. The law, itself, isn’t so revolutionary. The privacy of people’s medical information has long been a tenet of medical ethics as well as a cultural value. BUT HIPAA’s complexity has spawned misinterpretation and misapplication that continues. This workshop will arm you with HIPAA basics and practical tips for navigating the law to obtain the interviews and information you need for your stories.
  • Jan Emerson-Shea, vice president, external affairs, California Hospital Association

  • Kenny Goldberg, reporter, KPBS News

  • Andrew Holtz, independent journalist; chief, HoltzReport

  • Stephen K. Phillips, J.D., partner, Hooper, Lundy and Bookman P.C.

  • Moderator: Irene Wielawski, independent journalist, Pound Ridge, N.Y.


A workshop about the narrative craft

This intense and lively workshop will highlight some of the best techniques to bring sparkle and creativity to your health and science stories in ways that make important information more accessible, relevant and engaging. We’ll focus on four power tools: theme and meaning, character development, scenes and visuals, and cinematic structure. If time permits, we’ll do round-robin brainstorming to identify solutions to your most common writing challenges.
  • Jacqui Banaszynski, Knight chair in editing, University of Missouri School of Journalism


How to accurately report on medical research findings

Learn how to uncover the flaws in published medical research – essential knowledge for journalists charged with evaluating the quality of evidence and the potential tradeoffs between benefits and harms. Review better ways to frame findings and get tips on how to get answers even on tight deadlines. Learn about tools to write and produce stories that make your readers and viewers more informed.
  • Ivan Oransky, M.D., vice president and global editorial director, MedPage Today; co-founder, Retraction Watch

  • Gary Schwitzer, publisher,


1:15 p.m.

Using LinkedIn for journalists

Learn how to leverage LinkedIn to find story ideas, new sources and even break stories. Additionally, learn how to promote your identity and work on LinkedIn.
  • Yumi Wilson, manager of corporate communications, LinkedIn


Covering hospital quality

Hospital quality data are everywhere. With little agreement about what makes a good hospital – and confusion created by the various rating programs – it can be difficult to understand hospital quality scores. This session will provide a tour of the landscape, including new data introduced and ones about to be introduced. We’ll explain why ratings vary, their strengths and weaknesses, and how you might use them, with story ideas to keep the topic fresh for you – and your audience. If you cover a local hospital, this is a session you won’t want to miss.
  • Ashish K. Jha, M.D., M.P.H., K.T. Li professor of health policy, Harvard School of Public Health; director, Harvard Global Health Institute

  • Charles Ornstein, senior reporter, ProPublica


A genetics primer for journalists

Go beyond the basics of A, T, C, and G, and learn how to write more clearly and accurately about complex topics such as gene therapy, epigenetics and precision medicine. Speakers will clarify common misconceptions reported in the media, discuss the promise and limitations of genetics in health care and highlight research trends in medical genetics.
  • Gregory M. Enns, M.D., director, biochemical genetics program, Stanford School of Medicine; associate professor, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital

  • Stephan Sanders, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, University of California San Francisco

  • Moderator: Helen Shen, Ph.D., independent journalist, Sunnyvale, Calif.


2-3 p.m.


New tech tools for journalists

Enhance your mojo – mobile journalism skills, that is. Our expert panel will share their favorite technology tools for reporting, writing, photography and video to help up your game. We’ll also hear about new ways to engage your audience, and learn about the Bay Area News Group’s Mobile Journalism Lab – a van outfitted with a bevy of technology that doubles as a roving classroom and newsroom.
  • George Kelly, online coordinator, Contra Costa Times

  • Martin G. Reynolds, senior editor, community engagement and training, Bay Area News Group/Digital First Media

  • Moderator: Karen Blum, independent journalist, Owings Mills, Md.


Covering hospital finances

Ever wonder how your closest hospital is doing financially? These institutions spend 30 percent of health care dollars. They are often among a city’s largest employers, and may even have larger budgets than the cities they reside in. Yet their finances are often a black hole for reporters. This session aims to demystify hospital finances, showing journalists how to find sources and use five key documents to analyze a facility’s fiscal prospects.
  • Karl Stark, assistant managing editor, business, health and science, The Philadelphia Inquirer


Using data transparency resources to drive reporting

Rapid growth in the public availability of health care data has created novel opportunities to inject data-driven reporting into your work. This session will focus on free online data repositories and interactive tools that attendees can use to identify newsworthy patterns in costs and quality. Attendees will leave the session with several easily localizable story ideas.
  • Ben Harder, chief of health analysis and managing editor, Health Care Analysis, U.S. News and World Report

  • Lisa Pickoff-White, senior interactive producer, news, KQED-San Francisco


3:15-4:20 p.m.


County-by-county alcohol use in your state

Breaking news: Get an exclusive first look at alcohol data for every county in the United States. Download the data and use an innovative mapping tool to explore trends in alcohol use, heavy drinking and binge drinking over two decades. The findings are from a new paper by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, published in the American Journal of Public Health.
  • Ali Mokdad, Ph.D., professor of global health, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington


ACA: Will it survive? And how to cover it now

Five years after enactment, uncertainty still stalks the Affordable Care Act. In June, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether subsidies can be given out in 37 states. What might happen if the subsidies are ruled invalid? But that’s not the only hurdle; cost and affordability remain concerns. Did enough people sign up to help moderate costs? Can states afford to run their own exchanges? This panel will explore these issues and provide tips and story ideas for covering the ACA from a national, state and local perspective.
  • Sarah Kliff, senior editor, Vox

  • Julie Appleby, M.P.H., senior correspondent, Kaiser Health News


A guide for journalists: The science of diet

Media audiences can have an insatiable appetite for more and deeper information about diet. As you're researching for your own audience, you may find yourself bogged down by a mishmash of myths, quackery and Internet or late-night TV sales pitches. Occasionally, you'll be fortunate enough to bump against real, science-tested techniques to tackle diet, nutrition, obesity and weight loss. Which resources and techniques can you trust? Our expert speakers are immersed in the world of academic research and will help you find clarity and fact-based material to inform your coverage. Come away from this session with a better grasp of questions to ask and how to fact check the answers for your next stories about diet and nutrition.
  • Christopher Gardner, Ph.D., professor (research), Prevention Research Center, University of Stanford School of Medicine

  • Kimber Stanhope, Ph.D., R.D., associate research nutritional biologist, Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of California, Davis

  • Moderator: Cynthia Craft, senior health writer, The Sacramento Bee


4:30-5 p.m.

Newcomer welcome
First-time conference attendees are invited to meet members of AHCJ's board of directors and learn how to make the most of the conference.


6:30 p.m.

Conference welcome and kickoff

The conference kickoff speaker will be Stanford University physician and bestselling author Abraham Verghese, M.D., M.A.C.P. In his writing and his work, he emphasizes the importance of bedside medicine and physical examination in an era of advanced medical technology. He contends the patient in the bed often has less attention than the patient data in the computer.

Santa Clara

6:45 p.m.

Welcome to Silicon Valley Reception
Sponsored by the
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Join us for food, drinks and conversation to kick off Health Journalism 2015. Mingle with new members and catch up with old friends. Meet-up spots will be designated for conference fellows.

Terra Courtyard

Friday, April 24

7 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Conference registration desk opens


7-8:30 a.m.

A breakfast buffet is available in the Exhibit Hall.

Ballroom C/D/E/F

7 a.m.-
5:30 p.m.

Exhibit Hall
Open all day for networking, finding new resources and a Cybercafe.

Ballroom C/D/E/F

8-8:50 a.m.

News briefing

Robert McDonald, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, will hold a news conference on Friday morning. The former CEO of Proctor & Gamble was named to head the VA last year after news reports of long wait lists at veterans’ medical facilities and revelations of records tampering. He is an Army veteran and West Point graduate. Briefing materials

Ballroom B

9-10:20 a.m.

Ebola and Ebolanoia: Covering outbreaks responsibly

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa sent a few cases westward to the United States — and inspired a frenzy of reporting that paid little attention to the facts of the disease or the risks of catching it. This panel will explore what the U.S. media got right and wrong, what reporters missed and misunderstood, and how we can do better next time.
  • Michele Barry, M.D., F.A.C.P., director, Center for Innovation in Global Health

  • Michael Bell, M.D., deputy director of division of healthcare quality promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Helen Branswell, medical reporter, The Canadian Press

  • Tara Smith, Ph.D., associate professor, Kent State University College of Public Health

  • Moderator: Maryn McKenna, independent journalist, Atlanta

Ballroom A

The dental desert: Investigating barriers to oral health access

Are you covering a dental desert? Tens of millions of Americans reside in the approximately 4,900 federally identified dental health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) across the country. These communities are designated as such by the Health Resources and Services Administration because they have more than 5,000 patients per dentist. According to federal officials, it would take approximately 7,300 additional dentists to eliminate the dental HPSA designations. We will discuss the impact of this problem and approaches that are being explored to address it.
  • Paul Glassman, D.D.S., M.A., M.B.A., director, Pacific Center for Special Care, University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry

  • Jenny Kattlove, director, Strategic Health Initiatives, The Children's Partnership

  • Jonathan Shenkin, D.D.S., M.P.H., vice president, American Dental Association; clinical associate professor of health policy, health services research and pediatric dentistry, Boston University

  • Moderator: Mary Otto, AHCJ oral health topic leader and independent journalist, Washington, D.C.

Ballroom B

Impact of dramatic climate changes on health

Climate change is not just a topic for environmental reporters. It's a health story. Dangerous heat waves are becoming more frequent and longer. Air quality worsens in hot weather and pollen counts climb, exacerbating allergies, asthma and lung disease. The drought in California and Arizona may explain an increase in valley fever and insect-borne infectious diseases may flourish in a warming world. Learn about these and other health effects and how communities should prepare.
  • Paul B. English, Ph.D., M.P.H., senior branch science adviser, California Department of Public Health Environmental Health Investigations Branch

  • Kim Knowlton, senior scientist and co-deputy director, Natural Resources Defense Council Science Center; assistant clinical professor, Environmental Health Science Department, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

  • Linda Marsa, author, contributing editor, Discover

  • Moderator: Gideon Gil, health and science editor, The Boston Globe


Exploring the latest research on aging

No longer viewed with skepticism in the scientific community, the possibility of slowing or reversing the aging process makes good headlines. Approaches like genomic modification, stem-cell manipulation and furnishing young blood to aging tissues may stave off the loss of intellectual prowess and physical health in later years. Is this a pharma-friendly prospect, leaving us with millions of elderly people who are marginally better off than their predecessors but very much alive? What happens if we improve cognitive function, but fail to address motor neuron failure? Learn what’s real and what’s not — and how to avoid selling snake oil to your readers.
  • Maria Felice Ghilardi, M.D., adjunct associate professor, Department of Neurology, New York University Langone School of Medicine; associate medical professor, Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, The City College of New York, City University of New York

  • Leonard Hayflick, Ph.D., professor of anatomy, University of California, San Francisco

  • Stuart Kim, Ph.D., professor, Departments of Developmental Biology and Genetics, Stanford University

  • S. Jay Olshansky, Ph.D., professor, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago

  • Moderator: Cathryn Ramin, independent journalist, Mill Valley, Calif.

Stevens Creek

Games for health: Innovation or fad?

Hundreds of millions of people play online games worldwide and an increasing number of them are turning to games to promote healthier lifestyles and better cognitive abilities, as well as to manage illnesses such as cancer and diabetes. But do health games work? Research has shown that playing certain games can make a difference in improving mood and helping patients stick to their prescribed medical treatments. Panelists discuss the latest research on digital health games, applications, who is playing these games, what’s needed to make an effective game and how the health care industry is responding to the trend.
  • Willis Gee, chief technical strategist, CIGNA

  • Debra Lieberman, Ph.D., director, Center for Digital Games Research, University of California, Santa Barbara

  • Richard Tate, vice president communications and marketing, HopeLab

  • Moderator: Andrea Kissack, senior science editor, KQED-San Francisco


The clinical, ethical and research sides of genetics

Rapid advances in technology have made it possible to analyze a person’s genetic code quickly and cheaply. The information can pinpoint health risks and help guide care for patients. But, for reporters who cover these stories, questions surface: How clear is the evidence for some of the risks, and what is a patient to do if there’s no ready remedy for the ones the tests find?
  • Emily Drabant Conley, Ph.D., director of business development, 23andMe

  • Henry T. Greely, professor, Stanford Law School

  • David Magnus, director, Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics

  • Neil Schiffman, clinical trial participant

  • Moderator: Scott Hensley, moderator and co-host, NPR's Shots blog


10:40 a.m.-

‘Not a death sentence’ is not enough: Covering the new HIV era

From babies “cured” of HIV – and then not, potent treatments that render the HIV-positive noninfectious to pills that prevent infection, in the past decade, the science of HIV care and prevention has taken dramatic leaps forward. But people’s ability to access those innovations remains fragmented and cost remains a barrier. This panel will look at covering both advances and barriers, including uneven implementation of the Affordable Care Act keeping the science from benefiting the people who need it most.
  • Brad Hare, M.D., director of HIV care and prevention, Kaiser Permanente San Francisco

  • Sharon L. Hillier, Ph.D., professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; director of reproductive infectious disease research, Magee-Womens Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

  • Christopher Chauncey Watson, M.H.S., director of clinical research, George Washington University

  • Moderator: Heather Boerner, independent journalist, San Francisco

Ballroom A

Latino health: Life with the ACA – and without immigration reform

Hispanics are the largest ethnic minority in the United States. Latino immigrants arrive in this country younger and healthier than the American population as a whole, but as they stay they suffer from chronic illnesses at increasing rates. Latinos are signing up for health insurance in strong numbers, but who will care for them – and how can that care be tailored to their community needs? Learn about the intersection of Latino health, immigration reform and how to tell the story.
  • Genoveva Islas, M.P.R., director, Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program; board member, California Health Benefit Exchange

  • David Hayes-Bautista, Ph.D., professor of medicine and director, Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture, School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles

  • Xavier Morales, Ph.D., executive director, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California

  • Moderator: Lisa Aliferis, health editor, KQED-San Francisco

Ballroom B

Freelance: Success in the trades and writing for a professional audience

There are hundreds of trade publications in health and medicine that provide steady work for freelancers and staff journalists. This panel will explore the universe of the trades, touching on topics the various business models, how writing for a professional audience differs from writing for the lay public, how to get up to speed in a new specialty quickly and how to pitch editors.
  • Daniel Keller, president, Keller Broadcasting

  • Peggy Peck, vice president/editor-in-chief, MedPageToday

  • Rabiya Tuma, assignment editor, Medscape Medical News

  • Moderator: Robert Finn, executive editor, MS Discovery Forum


Public or private: What's ahead in insurance exchanges?

Much has been written about millions of Americans taking to government-run exchanges under the Affordable Care Act to buy health insurance but there may be even more people selecting and purchasing coverage via private exchanges run by employers and insurers alike. This panel looks at how these exchanges operate and how they move consumers to more affordable and potentially higher quality choices. Panelists will also discuss the rapidly changing public and private approach to health coverage, provider choices and whether this will lead to the Holy Grail of transparency in prices.
  • Cary Grace, M.B.A., chief executive officer, Aon Health Exchanges

  • Caroline Pearson, senior vice president, health reform and policy, Avalere Health

  • Maureen Sullivan, senior vice president of strategic services and chief strategy officer, BlueCross BlueShield Association

  • Moderator: Bruce Japsen, health care writer, Forbes


High-risk obstetrics: Challenges of very preterm births

Nearly 2 percent of American newborns are considered very preterm, arriving at less than 32 weeks’ gestation. Many thrive. But at the margin of viability – from 22 to 26 weeks – parents and health providers face especially difficult medical and moral dilemmas. Who decides which babies will respond well to vigorous interventions and which will only suffer needlessly? In this session, a neonatologist, a high-risk obstetrician and a journalist who chronicled the story of her own micropreemie explore the issues.
  • Kelley Benham French, professor of practice, Indiana University

  • Henry Lee, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics (neonatology), Stanford University

  • Amen Ness, M.D., M.S.C.P., clinical associate professor, obstetrics and gynecology, Stanford University School of Medicine

  • Moderator: Charlotte Sutton, health and medicine editor, Tampa Bay Times

Stevens Creek

Efforts to battle fraud in electronic health records

U.S. taxpayers have spent billions of dollars to encourage hospitals and physicians to build safe, private and efficient electronic health records systems. EHRs are the linchpin of the Affordable Care Act and should enable patients and their providers to access records and avoid duplicate tests and costly treatments. But growing numbers of data breaches, hacking by criminal networks and fraud are problems. How has this happened and what is the federal government doing to protect the privacy of EHRs? How safe are the EHRs at your local hospital and what can be done to safeguard them?
  • Pam Dixon, executive director, World Privacy Forum

  • Fred Schulte, senior reporter, Center for Public Integrity

  • Moderator: Mark Taylor, independent journalist, Chicago


1:40 p.m.

Lunch on your own


1:40-3 p.m.

Connecting with your audience about end-of-life care

In a rapidly aging America, the hard questions of end-of-life care face families, caregivers, professionals, patients – and newsrooms – everywhere. Learn how to address the challenges in covering this sensitive topic from a best-selling author, a longtime advocate and critic of hospice care, and an expert practitioner of palliative care and research. Bring the hard questions for our panelists to help you find some answers.
  • Katy Butler, independent journalist, Mill Valley, Calif.

  • V.J. Periyakoil, M.D., director, palliative care education and training, Stanford University School of Medicine

  • G. Jay Westbrook, M.S., R.N., C.H.P.N., clinical director, Compassionate Journey: An End-of-Life Clinical and Education Service

  • Moderator: Paul Kleyman, director, Ethnic Elders Newsbeat, New America Media

Ballroom A

The big picture: Measuring the health of cities and states, countries and continents

What truly impacts the health of a country? How have disease threats changed? Where in the United States is overall health getting worse or better than in peer nations? Why? This panel will demonstrate and discuss exciting new tools for identifying and reporting on health challenges and success stories. Data visualizations show how regions are performing in comparison to their peers and allow reporters new ways to view and understand health levels and trends by county, state, country or continent.
  • Christopher Murray, M.D., D.Phil., director, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation; professor of global health, University of Washington

  • George Rutherford III, M.D., director, Institute for Global Health; professor, epidemiology and biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine

  • Moderator: Jeremy N. Smith, independent journalist, Missoula, Mont.

Ballroom B

Veterans’ health: National scrutiny, local stories

For years, veterans complained about the lack of timely access to medical care through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Those complaints were corroborated by VA doctors and other insiders. Problems were systemic in a medical network that served 9 million patients and made 85 million annual appointments. The inspector general verified whistleblower allegations in Phoenix and at more than 90 other VA medical centers. The VA secretary and other top bosses were forced out and Congress approved bipartisan legislation with $16.3 billion to expedite care and increase accountability. The legislation provided money to hire doctors and nurses with the goal of providing more timely care as well as outsource some care to community doctors and hospitals. Experts on the VA crisis weigh in on the agency’s response and suggest possible stories for local reporters to cover.
  • Dennis Wagner, senior reporter, The Arizona Republic

  • Gavin West, M.D., senior medical adviser for clinical operations, Department of Veterans Affairs

  • Moderator: Ken Alltucker, health reporter, The Arizona Republic


Overcoming the human factor in hospital infections

We know washing hands can help stop the spread of germs. But a study this year followed 4,000 caregivers and found that, by the end of their shifts, their rate of hand-washing had dropped 8 percent. They were tired. But that 8 percent, extrapolated across the country, could account for thousands of lives and billions of dollars. So how can that human factor be overcome? Find out how doctors at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford control infections and get staff to adopt new practices. Journalists will talk about the stories they've produced and where the information is.
  • Ron Campbell, reporter, CHCF Center for Health Reporting

  • Bonnie Maldonado, M.D., professor of pediatrics and health research and policy, chief, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Stanford University School of Medicine; attending physician, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford

  • Eric A. Weiss, M.D., F.A.C.E.P., professor of surgery/emergency medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine; medical director, Office of Emergency Management, Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford; hospital director, Wilderness Medicine Fellowship

  • Moderator: Kristian Foden-Vencil, reporter/producer, Oregon Public Broadcasting


New tech and new strategies for clinical trials

Technology changes the way we look at health care every day. It’s easy to see how a new surgical tool or the transfer of electronic information affects a patient’s health. But how are the new treatments and gadgets affecting the critical front-end science being discovered in clinical trials? Panelists will help translate how everything from FitBits to genomic tests are transforming how these trials are conducted.
  • Pamela N. Munster, M.D., director of early phase clinical trials program, Helen Diller Cancer Center; program leader, Development Therapeutics; professor of medicine, University of California, San Francisco

  • Joe Selby, M.D., M.P.H., executive director, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute

  • Elizabeth A Shenkman, Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Health Outcomes and Policy, College of Medicine, University of Florida; co-director, OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium

  • Moderator: Mary Shedden, editor, Health News Florida; reporter, WUSF Public Radio

Stevens Creek

3:50 p.m.

Freelance PitchFest

Editors from magazines, newspapers and websites are coming to meet with AHCJ’s freelance members. Sit down and discuss your story ideas one-on-one with editors from selected publications. There was an opportunity to sign up for appointments online before the conference and some appointments were reserved for on-site sign ups at 3 p.m. on Wednesday until 4 p.m. on Thursday.

Reminder: If you fail to show up for any of your appointments, you will not be allowed to sign up in advance for next year’s PitchFest. Additionally, be aware that the booked editor will have your name, potentially harming your reputation with that publication.
Prepare with this webcast: Tips for pitching to top publications
  • Betsy Agnvall, features editor, health, AARP Media

  • Lynya Floyd, health director, Family Circle Magazine

  • John Gever, managing editor, MedPage Today

  • Laura Helmuth, editor, Slate

  • Lottie Joiner, senior editor, The Crisis Magazine

  • Tod Jones, managing editor, U.S., Costco Connection Magazine

  • Becky Lang, senior editor, Discover Magazine

  • Robert Lott, deputy editor, Health Affairs

  • Anna Miller, health and wellness reporter, U.S. News & World Report

  • Jayne O'Donnell, health care policy reporter, USA Today

  • Colleen Paretty, editorial director, WebMD Magazine

  • Feyza Sancar, Ph.D., director of medical news and perspectives, Journal of the American Medical Association

  • Karl Stark, assistant managing editor, business, health and science, The Philadelphia Inquirer

  • Jihan Thompson, health editor, O, The Oprah Magazine

  • Tyghe Trimble, senior editor, Men's Journal Magazine

  • Rabiya Tuma, assignment editor, Medscape Medical News

  • Max Ufberg, editor, Pacific Standard

  • Peter Wehrwein, editor, Managed Care

  • Coordinator: Jeanne Erdmann, independent journalist, Wentzville, Mo.


3-4 p.m.

Dessert Break
Snacks and prize drawings will take place in the Exhibit Hall.

Ballroom C/D/E/F

5:40 p.m.

Microbiome research: What to cover - and what to avoid

Your body is home to more than 10 times as many bacteria as human cells, and the colonies of microorgansims that live on our bodies – the human microbiome – is a red-hot topic in health. These experts will help you find great stories and skip the hype about a microbial ecosystem essential to our health.
  • Jonathan Eisen, Ph.D., professor, School of Medicine and College of Biological Sciences, University of California

  • Susan Lynch, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine, University of California, San Francisco

  • Justin Sonnenburg, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine

  • Neil Stollman, M.D., physician, East Bay Center for Digestive Health

  • Moderator: Kathleen McGowan, independent journalist, Berkeley, Calif.

Ballroom A

Localizing Medicare and Medicaid: Data, experts and shoe leather

The government has released a treasure trove of data that presents story ideas and challenges for journalists. Panelists will discuss how to navigate Medicare data, understand its limitations and how to turn it into lively stories. We'll also dive into state Medicaid data to show where interesting stories can be found.
  • Charles Ornstein, senior reporter, ProPublica

  • David Pittman, reporter, Politico

  • Fred Schulte, senior reporter, Center for Public Integrity

  • Moderator: Trudy Lieberman, contributing editor, Columbia Journalism Review


Transparency: Reporting on quality as well as health costs

Few patients can choose physicians, hospitals or other providers based on what they charge, and even fewer consumers can choose providers based on quality. Get insight into how states, insurers, and other organizations are publishing information on the costs and quality of care in efforts to empower consumers to be more effective shoppers for health care services.
  • Francois de Brantes, M.S., M.B.A., executive director, Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute

  • Suzanne Delbanco, Ph.D., executive director, Catalyst for Payment Reform

  • Lynn Quincy, director, Health Care Value Hub, Consumers Union

  • Moderator: Joseph Burns, independent journalist, Falmouth, Mass.

Ballroom B

Changes in rules, new ethical debates about organ transplants

Always a dramatic topic, organ transplantation offers new ethical questions that make for fresh, compelling journalism. If you’re fascinated by transplants, get ready to learn what’s new. Our expert panel will cover transplant tourism, transplant from HIV-positive donors, the new kidney allocation rules and Donation after Circulatory Death.
  • Janet Bellingham, M.D., abdominal transplant surgeon, California Pacific Medical Center

  • William Bry, M.D., F.A.C.S., surgical director of kidney transplantation, California Pacific Medical Center

  • Alexander Capron, professor, Gould School of Law, University of Southern California

  • Peter Stock, M.D., Ph.D., surgical director, Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program, University of California, San Francisco

  • Moderator: Carla K. Johnson, medical writer, The Associated Press

Stevens Creek

How big data might revolutionize medical research and treatment

There’s a lot of buzz about “big data” these days, but what does it really mean for medical research and treatment today and in the future? A panel of experts will present insights from academic, clinical, laboratory and industry perspectives, and guide reporters to better understand how big data collection and analysis can affect patient care and what issues have to be considered when covering the subject.
  • Amy Abernethy, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president Oncology and Chief Medical Officer, Flatiron Health

  • Eric Larson, M.D., M.P.H., executive director, Group Health Research Institute

  • Michael Snyder, Ph.D., professor and chair, Stanford University Genetics Department

  • Moderator: Eric Rosenthal, special correspondent, MedPage Today


6:30 p.m.

Membership meeting
Come hear about AHCJ’s latest efforts and ask questions of your elected board.


Overview | Wednesday/Thursday/Friday | Saturday/Sunday