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New Horizons

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Susan Desmond-Hellmann to present fifth Patrusky Lecture at WCSJ2017

Susan Desmond-Hellmann, a physician and scientist who serves as chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been selected by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW) to present the fifth Patrusky Lecture on October 27, 2017, at the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists.

Desmond-Hellmann, a pioneer in health care who has devoted her career to the eradication of disease, poverty and inequity, will speak “In Defense of Science.”  At a time when facts-based, data-driven approaches to problems are being rejected as elitist, she will make the case for science and data, drawing on personal testimony and powerful examples from the Gates Foundation’s work around the world.

Desmond-Hellmann will address more than 1,200 journalists and science communicators from around the world gathered in San Francisco, California, for WCSJ2017. CASW and the National Association of Science Writers (NASW) are co-organizers of the conference, which incorporates CASW’s traditional New Horizons in Science briefings on research and issues in science. The conference is being produced in partnership with the World Federation of Science Journalists and two host universities, the University of California at San Francisco and UC Berkeley.

"The Gates Foundation is one of the world's biggest players in the field of global health, so it's particularly fitting that Dr. Desmond-Hellmann will be giving the Patrusky Lecture at this year's world conference – the first global event of its kind held in the U.S.," said CASW President Alan Boyle, aerospace and science editor at GeekWire in Seattle. "Her perspective is also a great fit for the annual Patrusky Lecture, which focuses on big-picture views of scientific and social frontiers."

Desmond-Hellmann became CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2014, after serving as the first female chancellor of UCSF for five years. She leads the Gates Foundation’s vision for a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life. Drawing on diverse experience in both the public and private sectors, she creates an environment for talented and committed individuals to help more children and young people survive and thrive, combat infectious diseases that hit the poorest hardest, and empower people—particularly women and girls—to transform their lives.

Trained as an oncologist, Desmond-Hellmann spent 14 years at the biotech firm Genentech developing a number of breakthrough medicines, including two of the first gene-targeted therapies for cancer, Avastin and Herceptin. In November 2009, Forbes named her one of the world’s seven most “powerful innovators,” calling her “a hero to legions of cancer patients.” Her time at Genentech put her at the forefront of the precision medicine revolution, and in her current role she champions a similar approach to global development: precision public health—getting the right interventions, to the right populations, in the right places, to save lives. 

She credits a move to Uganda in 1989—to work on HIV/AIDS and cancer alongside her husband, Nick—as a turning point in her career. “It was so profound to recognize… that all the learning I had done to become a doctor didn’t matter at all if I didn’t make a contribution,” she says.


Desmond-Hellmann is the recipient of numerous honors and awards. She was listed among Fortune magazine’s “top 50 most powerful women in business” for seven years and, in 2010, was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and elected to the Institute of Medicine. In addition to an M.D. from the University of Reno, Nevada, she holds a master’s degree in public health from UC Berkeley. She serves on the board of directors at Facebook Inc.

THE PATRUSKY LECTURES

The Patrusky Lectures were launched by CASW in 2013 to honor Ben Patrusky, executive director of CASW for 25 years and director of the New Horizons in Science program for 30 years. The previous Patrusky Lectures were given by chemist George M. Whitesides of Harvard University; paleontologist Donald Johanson of the Institute of Human Origins; Yale microbiologist Jo Handelsman, associate director for science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and the pioneering particle physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas at Austin.

 

Diverse program of science and journalism sessions planned for WCSJ2017

May 1, 2017 — CASW and its partners in organizing the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists today unveiled a comprehensive program of conference sessions focusing on professional development, leading-edge research and issues in science and journalism for the five-day meeting to be held this October. Registration and access to the full preliminary program, which features renowned plenary speakers, is now open.

The 2017 edition of WCSJ, the biennial meeting of international science journalists, will be held October 26 to 30 in San Francisco, California, a global hub of science and technology innovation. This year marks the first time the conference will be held in the United States. The program and registration information can be accessed at www.wcsj2017.org. “We are thrilled to invite science writers from around the world to participate in this exciting global meeting,” said WCSJ2017 Organizing Committee Co-Chairs Cristine Russell and Ron Winslow. “American science writers will have a unique opportunity to network with colleagues from the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and the Middle East.” Russell is a board member and immediate past president of CASW. For more information and to register, visit the conference website.

WCSJ2017 program outline, additional speakers announced

Program themes, additional plenary sessions and fundraising progress were described by the organizers of the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ2017) at a press conference during the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, Mass. Feb. 16.

CASW is organizing the WCSJ2017 science program—an international edition of New Horizons in Science—and co-managing sponsor recruitment for the conference, to be held October 26-30 in San Francisco, Calif. Travel fellowships to bring international journalists to the conference have been established in honor of David Perlman, veteran San Francisco Chronicle science editor and past CASW president. CASW is conducting a donation campaign to fund the fellowships.

Cristine Russell, immediate past president of CASW, co-chairs the Organizing Committee with Ron Winslow, a past president of the National Association of Science Writers.

Conference registration opens May 1. The full text of the announcement may be found at the WCSJ2017 website.

 

World Conference organizers issue travel statement

Amid debate over new U.S. visa restrictions, organizers of the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists affirmed the conference's determination to welcome journalists from across the globe to the conference. A statement issued February 10 says the organizers "oppose any restrictions that would prevent participants from attending WCSJ2017."

CASW and the National Association of Science Writers are partners with the World Federation of Science Journalists in organizing the conference, scheduled to be held in San Francisco Oct. 26-30. The statement is signed by the co-chairs of the WCSJ2017 Organizing Committee: Cristine Russell, CASW immediate past president, and Ron Winslow, past president of NASW, and was endorsed by current presidents Alan Boyle (CASW) and Laura Helmuth (NASW).

As an additional expression of global welcome, CASW is raising $20,000 in donations to the David Perlman Travel Fellowships, which honor the former CASW and NASW president and longtime San Francisco Chronicle science editor. The fellowships will support travel by conference attendees from any nation. An anonymous donor is matching all donations up to the goal.

In the hope that all colleagues will be able to come to San Francisco, the organizers have also recruited conference partners to help with visa appeals.

The full text of the statement may be found here.

Scientists meet science writers at New Horizons 2016

CASW's New Horizons Traveling Fellows have now posted coverage of the 2016 program—including a tongue-in-cheek interactive game simulating the experience of a freelancer getting a travel grant to attend a science writers' conference.

Amy Mayer and Nancy Averett chose to focus on the powerful pair of sessions that focused on citizens and science. Jacob Roberts was taken with Mark Riedl's presentation on creativity and artificial intelligence—and inspired to recap his ScienceWriters2016 experience in the form of game.

The Fellows' contributions can be found in the 2016 New Horizons Newsroom.


Sketch by Rob Frederick, @TheConjectural

Video of 2016 Patrusky Lecture available

 

 

Theoretical physicist Steven Weinberg shared his thoughts about the state of quantum mechanics with science writers attending CASW's 54th New Horizons in Science briefing in San Antonio, Texas on October 30, 2016.

The fourth Patrusky Lecture was a highlight of ScienceWriters2016, the annual conference that combines New Horizons with the professional development workshops organized by the National Association of Science Writers. Some 800 science writers, a record number, attended this year's conference.

A full video recording of Weinberg's talk and the previous Patrusky Lectures is now available on the Patrusky Lectures page.

 

 

In Focus: 
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by Amy Mayer | 

LeeAnne Walters had three words of advice when a science writer asked how to tell stories that will capture the audience’s attention: “Find a mom.”

Walters had struggled to get the attention of anyone in the media as she confronted Michigan state and federal officials with evidence of lead contamination in her family’s tap water over the summer of 2015. Eventually, though, she became a leading voice in the story of widespread water contamination in the city of Flint.

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