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Health Journalism 2019: Program

Panels and workshops were created from more than 200 suggestions made by AHCJ members, conference sponsors, outside organizations and nonmember journalists.

Sessions are often a merger of several ideas and are assigned to journalist organizers who then staff their panels with experts suggested by the local journalist planning committee, national planning committee, conference sponsors, fellow journalists and through their own coverage experience or research.

Organizers are asked to take into account national reputation, local expertise and regional flavor, ethnic and gender diversity and communication skills. Our hope is that each conference offers attendees new sources for their stories.

Note: This is a preliminary schedule and subject to change as conference planning continues.

Click the titles of sessions having red arrows to read their descriptions.

Saturday, May 4

The Exhibit Hall will be open all day for networking and finding new resources.

7-8:30 a.m.

Breakfast available


9-10:20 a.m.

Doing investigations as a freelancer

It’s difficult for freelancers to do deep-dive investigations without the security of steady paycheck, or the resources of a news organization. This session will address financial considerations (pay models, grants, fellowships and institutional support like virtual newsrooms); practical considerations (identifying stories, organizing reporting and background materials, submitting FOIA requests); ensuring confidentiality of sources; negotiating contracts, liability issues and indemnification clauses. #AHCJinvestigations
  • Liza Gross, independent investigative reporter, Food and Environment Reporting Network; author

  • Fern Shen, editor and publisher, Baltimore Brew

  • Laird Townsend, investigative reporter and editor; director, Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors

  • Moderator: Sandra Lamb, independent journalist

Holiday 2-3

Are physician and nurse burnout, staffing shortages harming patient care?

Hospitals continue to suffer from nurse and physician burnout and low nurse staffing levels. Some states have mandated minimum nurse staffing levels to protect patients. Hospitals oppose such minimums as expensive and unnecessary. How do those issues impact patient care? Are they leading to medical errors and complications? What are the root causes? A panel of nurses, physicians and health care consultants will explore those questions. #AHCJburnout
  • Patricia Davidson, Ph.D., dean, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing

  • Matthew McHugh, Ph.D, J.D., M.P.H., R.N., professor of nursing, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

  • Daniel Roberts, M.D., hospitalist, Mayo Clinic

  • Moderator: Mark Taylor, independent health care journalist

Key 11-12

How precision medicine and immunotherapy are redefining the approach to cancer treatment

Cancer researchers have known for a long time that mutations drive the development of malignant disease. Over the past decade, advances in basic science and cancer biology have transformed the way oncologists think about disease — cancer isn't a few types of rapidly proliferating tumors specific to i.e. breast, colon, lung, pancreas, but thousands of diseases that may or may not share mutations and genetic biomarkers. As cancer drugs become the largest share of approvals at FDA, learn how researchers, drug companies, and regulatory agencies are redefining oncology. #AHCJcancer
  • Otis W. Brawley, M.D., Bloomberg distinguished professor of oncology and epidemiology; associate director for community outreach and engagement, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center

  • Saurabh Dahiya, M.B.B.S., assistant professor of Medicine, Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program, Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine

  • Drew M. Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D.,  director, Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy; co-director, Cancer Immunology Program, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center; Abeloff professor of oncology, medicine, pathology and molecular biology, and genetics, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine

  • Moderator: Matthew Ong, reporter, The Cancer Letter

Key 1-2

Autism: Changing challenges from childhood to adulthood

The rates of autism in the United States are rising. Adults and children with an autism development disorder have higher rates of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and other serious mental health diagnoses. Parents can find it challenging to help children on the spectrum. Adults with the disorder are often diagnosed so late that they have trouble at work, in relationships and more. This panel will take journalists on a trip through the myriad diagnoses, the latest research on psychological interventions and other best practices for treating ASD. You will come away from the panel with story ideas and a Rolodex of leaders in the field to follow up with. #AHCJautism
  • Carol Orth, M.A., R.-D.M.T., L.P.C., clinical supervisor, Adult Autism Clinic, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

  • Holly Wilcox, M.A., Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Department of Mental Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University

  • Anna Maria Wilms Float, M.D., physician, Neurodevelopmental Medicine Program, Kennedy Krieger Institute; assistant professor in pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

  • Moderator: Cheryl Weinstock, independent journalist

Key 3-4

Separating facts and fiction on vitamins and supplements

Hear from a set of experts exploring the role – if any – of supplements and vitamins on health. Consumers are bombarded with marketing efforts for products to ingest or apply, including the now-popular cannabidiol (CBD) oil. This session will help keep your audiences informed with facts on this growing topic.
  • Brent A. Bauer, M.D., director, Mayo Clinic Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program

  • Chris D'Adamo, Ph.D., director of research and education, Center for Integrative Medicine; assistant professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine and Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine

  • Mamta Bhasker Jhaveri, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of dermatology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

  • Moderator: Shari Rudavsky, health/medicine Reporter, The Indianapolis Star

Key 9-10

10:40 a.m.-noon

No neighbor left behind: Understanding rural strategies for health

Break out of your mental rut when thinking about health care in rural America. Sure there are problems with access to care, funding and isolation, but residents in these areas are creative, they're often unencumbered by bureaucracy, able to find what works for them and to suss out what advances health with the assets they have. This panel will provide ideas of how to find and cover these rural stories that often subvert and complicate the dominant narratives.
  • Maggie Elehwany, J.D., government affairs and policy vice president, National Rural Health Association

  • Mark Holmes, Ph.D., director, North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

  • Paul Lindberg, J.D., collective impact health specialist, partnership of United Way of the Columbia Gorge and Providence Hood River Hospital

  • Robert Stiles, CEO, Central Ozarks Medical Center

  • Moderator: Rose Hoban R.N., M.P.H., editor, North Carolina Health News

Holiday 1

Stem cells: How to separate the promising from the questionable

Stem cells offer the tantalizing possibility of treatments for dreaded diseases, but those therapies are still being developed. Meanwhile, clinics offering unproven and unapproved therapies are proliferating across the country. The procedures cost thousands of dollars, are not covered by insurance and pose troubling safety issues, including the risk of deadly bacterial infections. Learn how to tell the good stem cells from the bad from a top FDA official, a prominent researcher and a reporter who has been covering the issue in depth. #AHCJstemcells
  • Erin Allday, health care reporter, San Francisco Chronicle

  • Peter Marks, M.D, Ph.D., director, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

  • Sally Temple, Ph.D., scientific director, Neural Stem Cell Institute

  • Moderator: Laurie McGinley, health and medicine reporter, The Washington Post

Holiday 2-3

Diagnostic errors are costly and harmful - are they fixable?

While patients often assume that getting the right diagnosis from their physician is a straightforward process, it’s not uncommon for doctors to miss the mark. This can be catastrophic. Experts in this session will explain the problem and what’s being done about it. #AHCJdiagnostic
  • David Newman-Toker M.D., Ph.D., director, Armstrong Institute Center for Diagnostic Excellence, Johns Hopkins Medicine

  • Danielle Ofri, M.D., Ph.D., clinical professor, New York University School of Medicine

  • Hardeep Singh, M.D., M.P.H., chief, Health Policy, Quality and Informatics Program and the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety, Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine

  • Moderator: Sabriya Rice, Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and professor, University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Key 11-12

Covering the crisis in adolescent mental health

Psychiatric hospitalizations and suicide rates have been rising among adolescents and young adults in recent years. What’s driving this concerning trend, and how should policymakers, clinicians and journalists respond? We’ll take a look at data, research and reporting, and talk with a panel of experts about how systems are failing these young people, what stories need to be written and what best practices might offer some hope. #AHCJmentalhealth
  • Alex Briscoe, principal, California Children's Trust

  • Rory Linnane, reporter, USA Today Network-Wisconsin

  • Tamar Mendelson, Ph.D., director, Center for Adolescent Health; Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

  • Tysheika Waples, student, Achievement Academy at Harbor City High School

  • Moderator: Jocelyn Wiener, independent journalist

Key 1-2

Finding diverse sources for your health stories

Journalism shapes the way we think about the world. Many of the best minds and ideas are missing from our health reporting. Alexandria Neason wrote in CJR in June, “journalists are failing at diversity — in the sources and experts it calls upon to help the public understand and digest the news of the day.” If journalists are committed to creating an inclusive culture in their reporting it will take both commitment and action. This session is designed to provide reporters strategies and tips on how to find diverse expert sources in science and health care. Changing the health narrative to reflect more diverse voices in health news is good journalism. #AHCJdiversifysources
  • Sonya Collins, independent journalist

  • Barbara Glickstein, R.N., M.P.H., M.S., independent journalist

  • Katti Gray, independent journalist

  • Moderator: Yanick Rice Lamb, chair/associate professor, Cathy Hughes School of Communications, Howard University; publisher,

Key 3-4

When payers own providers

In recent years, insurers have acquired providers such as physician groups in large numbers. We’ll address why payers and providers are merging and the policy implications of such vertical integration. We’ll examine the effect on patients, employers, unions, and other purchasers. And, we’ll ask what happens when patients seek care from a physician group the insurer doesn’t own and what strategies purchasers are using to improve quality and lower costs regardless of provider ownership. #AHCJvertical
  • Kavita K. Patel, M.D., M.S., vice president, provider and payer strategy, Johns Hopkins Health System

  • Sara Rothstein, director, 32BJ Health Fund

  • Jessica Van Parys, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Economics, Hunter College, City University of New York

  • Moderator: Joseph Burns, AHCJ topic leader/insurance; independent journalist

Key 9-10

Noon-2 p.m.

Awards luncheon

  • Rebecca Dineen, assistant commissioner, Bureau of Maternal and Child Health, Baltimore City Health Department


2-3 p.m.

Exhibit crawl and dessert


3-4:20 p.m.

Community clinic inroads in oral, primary, mental health

In the American health care system, behavioral and oral health services have traditionally been provided separately from medical care. But thanks to support from the Affordable Care Act and a growing recognition of the value of "whole patient care," community health centers are finding ways to integrate dental and mental health care into the comprehensive primary care services they are bringing to their patients. Our panel will discuss challenges, benefits and what lies ahead. #AHCJdentalmental
  • Phyllis Colombaro, D.D.S., chief dental officer, La Red Health Center Inc.

  • Nilesh Kalyanaraman, M.D., F.A.C.P., chief health officer, Health Care for the Homeless, Baltimore
  • Jenene R. Washington, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.P., principal/owner, Renaye James Healthcare Advisors

  • Moderator: Mary C. Otto, AHCJ topic leader/oral health; independent journalist

Holiday 1

Alzheimer's to Zika: Cell mitochondria in disease and treatment

The session will provide a brief background on how mitochondria function, how damage contributes to disease, and interventions to treat those diseases. It will be illustrated with examples spanning from fetal/early childhood development to those associated with aging, and environmental stressors such as toxins and infections. The expert panel represents a wide range of research and clinical experiences. There will be ample time for questions. #AHCJmitochondria
  • Vilhelm (Bill) A. Bohr, M.D., Ph.D., senior investigator, Laboratory of Molecular Gerontology, National Institute on Aging senior investigator, National Institutes of Health

  • Anne Hamacher-Brady, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

  • Hilary Vernon, M.D., Ph.D., clinical director, Mitochondrial Medicine Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

  • Moderator: Tina H. Saey, senior writer, molecular biology, Science News magazine

Holiday 2-3

Psychedelic science: Will a resurgence transform psychological treatment?

Nearly a half-century after the federal government criminalized psychedelic drugs, new research into substances such as psilocybin (aka “shrooms” or “magic mushrooms”), LSD and MDMA (aka “Molly” or “ecstasy”) are showing potential as therapeutic tools in treating multiple forms of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction. In this panel you’ll learn more about the cutting-edge research in this burgeoning field of research.
  • Natalie Ginsberg, M.S.W., director of policy and advocacy, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

  • Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral science, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

  • Moderator: Stephanie O'Neill, independent journalist

Key 11-12

Tobacco regulation in a new era: Rules and Juuls

They began as e-cigarettes, promoted as a way to quit smoking. But now vaping has emerged as a public health “epidemic” of its own, as the FDA and surgeon general declared last year. Teens have become addicted to sleek nicotine-delivery devices that come in flavors such as mango, mint and crème. Last year, 1 in 5 high school students were using e-cigarettes, a 75 percent jump over the previous year. This session will explore the roots of this epidemic, federal and state efforts to combat it, and what more should be done. #AHCJvaping
  • Joanna Cohen, Ph.D., director, Institute for Global Tobacco Control and Bloomberg professor of disease prevention, Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

  • Sheila Kaplan, reporter, New York Times Washington, D.C., bureau
  • Mitch Zeller, J.D., director, Center for Tobacco Products, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

  • Moderator: Gideon Gil, managing editor, Stat

Key 1-2

The hidden health care needs of our women warriors

Do military fitness standards take a toll on women’s health? What risks do women face from unmet reproductive health care needs? How much progress is the military making on preventing and treating sexual harassment and assault? How do multiple deployments impact women? Why are more women than men getting PTSD? As more women serve in combat and rise through the ranks, this panel will explore how well the military meets their medical needs. #AHCJwomenwarriors
  • Kiley Hunkler, fourth-year medical student, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; captain, U.S. Army Medical Corps in upcoming summer OB/GYN residency, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

  • Alan Peterson, M.D., director, South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience (STRONG STAR); director, Consortium to Alleviate PTSD; psychiatry professor, Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

  • Andrew Satin, M.D., director of gynecology and obstetrics, Johns Hopkins Hospital

  • Moderator: Lisa Rapaport, medical research reporter, Reuters Health

Key 3-4

Do drug pricing reform efforts promise consumer relief?

The Trump Administration has put forth a number of proposals it says will help reduce drug prices, from ideas that would require listing sales prices in television ads to a plan that would pin prices to what is paid in other countries. Democrats looking to run in 2020 also have ideas, from negotiations on prices in Medicare to making a public option for generic drugs. What are the prospects, politically and feasibly, for these various ideas? Will any of them result in lower prices for consumers? And what do reporters need to know about the proposals and how they can cover the policy debate as it plays out? #AHCJdrugpricing
  • Gerard Anderson, professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

  • Steven Knievel, Access to Medicines Advocate, Public Citizen

  • Alice Ollstein, Health care reporter, Politico

  • Moderator: Julie Appleby, senior correspondent, Kaiser Health News

Key 9-10

4:40-6 p.m.

Incorporating images and sounds on the health beat

Video and audio aren’t just for television and radio reporters anymore. Demand for web videos and podcasts mean that covering the story requires getting pictures and sounds that will grab and hold your audience. We will show examples to emulate, offer equipment tips and talk about working with patients and hospitals. The panel includes experienced TV and radio reporters. #AHCJsightsound
  • Rebecca Hersher, reporter, NPR Science Desk

  • Daylina Miller, multimedia journalist, Health News Florida/WUSF Public Media

  • Moderator: Andrew S. Holtz, M.P.H., chief, HoltzReport

Peale A-C

Beyond methadone: Using new medications to treat addiction

Medication-assisted treatment, including the use of buprenorphine or methadone, is increasingly accepted by medical experts as an effective way to help patients overcome addiction to heroin and narcotic painkillers. But the therapy still faces stigma among skeptics, who see it as replacing one addiction with another. We’ll look at how use of these medications is expanding and what hurdles they face. #AHCJopioids
  • Abby Goodnough, staff writer, The New York Times

  • Jennifer Martin, J.D., M.A., deputy commissioner, Population Health and Disease Prevention, Baltimore City Health Department

  • Eric Weintraub, M.D., Division head for alcohol and drug abuse treatment, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

  • Moderator: Tony Leys, staff writer, Des Moines Register

Key 11-12

A future without antibiotics

The global crisis of antibiotic resistance has been made worse by the difficult economics of drug development: as legacy antibiotics have lost their power, few large firms have stepped up to make new versions. The future of antibiotics may lie in finding new active compounds in new places: the sea, the soil, the plants around us and the viral kingdom. This panel of researchers and antibiotic hunters will share the newest science making a difference in this long battle. #AHCJnewabx
  • Lori L Burrows, Ph.D., associate director, partnerships and outreach, Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Diseases Research; professor, biochemistry and biomedical sciences, McMaster University

  • Cassandra Quave, Ph.D., assistant professor of dermatology and human health, Emory University

  • Anthony D. So, M.D., M.P.A., professor of practice; director, IDEA Initiative Innovation Design Enabling Access; director, Strategic Policy Program, ReAct — Action on Antibiotic Resistance; Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

  • Alexander Sulakvelidze, Ph.D., executive vice-president and chief scientific officer, Intralytix Inc.

  • Moderator: Maryn McKenna, columnist, Wired

Key 1-2

Privacy in the age of widespread genetic sequencing

Personal genetic data are being collected and analyzed on a breathtaking scale by medical researchers, for-profit companies and law enforcement. The genetic information can help people identify personal health risks, uncover clues for the development of new treatments and crack criminal cases. But what are the implications for health and privacy in how these genetic databases are being used? #AHCJprivacy
  • Adriana Beach, corporate counsel for privacy, 23andMe

  • Joann Bodurtha, M.D., M.P.H., professor of pediatrics and oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

  • Robert I. Field, Ph.D., M.P.H., J.D., professor of law and professor of health management and policy director, Joint J.D./M.P.H. Program, Drexel University

  • Moderator: Scott Hensley, editor, NPR

Key 3-4

Successful aging in place: What's working?

Most older adults want to age in their own homes and communities. Several programs are successfully helping them do that with social service, nutrition and medical support — along with help from friends and neighbors. This panel will explore what’s working at the community level and why, highlighting aging-in-place models that can succeed elsewhere, with the right approach. Panelists will offer journalists ideas for educating the public and policymakers and which issues need more emphasis. #AHCJaging
  • Robyn I. Stone, Dr.P.H., co-director of the LeadingAge Long-Term Services and Supports, University of Massachusetts Boston; senior vice president of research, LeadingAge

  • Sarah Szanton, Ph.D., A.N.P., F.A.A.N., director, Center for Innovative Care in Aging; professor for health equity and social justice, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing

  • Peggy Simpson, president emerita, Dupont Circle Village; secretary, Village to Village Network Board, freelance journalist.

  • Moderator: Liz Seegert, AHCJ topic leader/aging; independent journalist

Key 9-10

6:15-7:30 p.m.


Enjoy the informal comradery of a tailgating reception outside the gates of the Camden Yards baseball stadium.


Sunday, May 5

7:30-8:45 a.m.

Breakfast available

Key 8 

9-10:20 a.m.

Create your own data

What do you do when you can’t find data to illuminate a story you’re working on? Make your own. This is where investigative reporting gets creative, and it’s extremely impactful. But DIY data is not for the faint of heart nor the disorganized. Learn from top-notch investigators how to make data carefully and do it well with hands-on examples from recent projects. #AHCJDIYdata
  • Andy Miller, editor and CEO, Georgia Health News

  • Katie Wedell, reporter, Investigations and Impact Team, Cox Media Group, Dayton Daily News

  • Alison Young, investigative reporter, USA Today

  • Moderator: Brenda Goodman, news writer, WebMD

Key 11-12

Investigating hospital quality

There are 2.5 million potentially avoidable medical complications in hospitals each year. We'll talk about what some of the biggest problems are, what's changing, and how you can report on them. Come learn how to use 10 of the most compelling quality measures out there (including some obscure ones) to evaluate a hospital and find great stories. #AHCJhospitalquality
  • Martin A. Makary, M.D., M.P.H., professor of surgery, Johns Hopkins Medicine

  • Moderator: Jordan Rau, senior correspondent, Kaiser Health News

Key 3-4

Freelance: How to be a go-to writer

You’ve finally secured a great freelance assignment. What can you do to ensure that editor will turn to you again and again? Editors discuss the qualities that make a freelance writer indispensable – along with those that will do the opposite – and successful freelance writers share what they’ve done to keep those assignments coming. #AHCJgoto
  • Betsy Agnvall, Staying Sharp Editor, AARP Media

  • Jane Lee, news editor, Americas, Nature
  • Padma Nagappan, independent journalist

  • Karen Weintraub, independent journalist
  • Moderator: Valarie Basheda, director of news and special reports, WebMD

Key 9-10

10:40 a.m.-noon

Translating systematic reviews' health evidence for news stories

Health journalists who attend this how-to session will: learn to use the Cochrane Library to uncover important health evidence that strengthens; gain a deeper understanding of systematic review methodology; discover rigorous quality measures of medical evidence; and understand how to translate research data to help your readers make informed health decisions. #AHCJevidence
  • Tianjing Li, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Coordinating Editor, Cochrane Eyes and Vision

  • Moderator: Robert Logan Ph.D., book author

Key 11-12

Hospital finances

Health care comprises a fifth of the U.S. economy, and hospitals are the biggest part of that. Yet for many reporters their finances remain black boxes. This session will give you the tools to understand arcane numbers and how to get them in a timely way. We will discuss how to find five key documents and the experts to review them, and we will entertain and suggest practical story ideas. We will also summarize the trends around hospital finances, how they are being reshaped into outpatient centers, why Congress and many towns are angry with nonprofits over their tax status and why rural hospitals are facing a world of hurt. #AHCJhospitalfinance
  • Karl Stark, business news editor, Philadelphia Inquirer and

Key 3-4

Online tools for health journalism

Attend this session – laptops are highly encouraged – to learn how free Google tools can help you find useful data for stories, quickly visualize health datasets, locate and track studies, and provide geographical context to health stories.
  • Benét J. Wilson, owner/editor-in-chief, Aviation Queen LLC

Key 9-10

1-5 p.m.

Post-conference bonus workshop: The intersection of health and education

A collaborative offering of AHCJ and the Education Writers Association covering several topics.
Registration is limited, but free for Health Journalism 2019 attendees and EWA 72nd National Seminar attendees.
The workshop will take place at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace (202 E. Pratt Street), a 10-minute walk down Pratt Street.