Public Release:  Science reporter wins ASM Public Communications Award

American Society for Microbiology

Washington, DC - March 28, 2011 - The 2011 winner of the ASM Public Communications Award is Jon Cohen from Science. "HIV/AIDS: Eastern Europe" is a package of seven stories published in Science on July 9, 2010. The articles deal with the epidemic of HIV and AIDS infections in Eastern European countries and the associated secondary infections as well as efforts to control the spread of the disease. It also examines the deficiencies of epidemiology in the region and compares and contrasts official figures versus those compiled by outside researchers working in the region.

The Award recognizes outstanding journalistic achievement in increasing public awareness, knowledge, and understanding of microbiology. The Public Communications Award, which includes a $2500 honorarium, will be presented during a ceremony at the ASM General Meeting, May 21 - 24 in New Orleans, LA.

The Award is concerned with prevention and treatment of infectious diseases as well as laboratory and diagnostic medicine. That is the explicit focus of this package of stories, which shows both the limitations of research in the region as well as the difficulty in translating research advances into practical benefits.

Judges for the award were Joe Neel of NPR; Michael Smith of MedPageToday; and Brian Vastag of the Washington Post.

Joe Neel of NPR described "HIV/AIDS: Eastern Europe" as "a memorable series of reports that probes deeply into the many scientific and social unknowns... Cohen is a master of combining strong evidence-based reporting with compelling and compassionate narratives to bring a story home."

A correspondent with Science since 1990, Cohen also has written for the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, Outside, Slate, Technology Review, and many other publications. His books include Shots in the Dark, Coming to Term and Almost Chimpanzee. Cohen has done mini-documentaries for Science and SlateV and contributed to "Ending AIDS," a PBS documentary based on Shots in the Dark.

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The full series has been made freely available online through May of 2011 in conjunction with the Award announcement. Please visit http://www.sciencemag.org/site/special/aids2010/.

The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of over 40,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM's mission is to advance the microbiological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes and to apply and communicate this knowledge for the improvement of health and environmental and economic well-being worldwide.

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