Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

New Horizons

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Shirley Tilghman to present the sixth Patrusky Lecture

Shirley M. Tilghman, a mammalian developmental geneticist who served as the 19th president of Princeton University, will present the sixth Patrusky Lecture on Sunday, October 14, 2018, during CASW's New Horizons in Science program at ScienceWriters2018 at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Tilghman has chosen "Systemic Flaws in the Biomedical Research Enterprise" as the theme of her address to science writers. Her talk will celebrate the promise of remarkable new methods in biomedical science while pointing to structural problems that may prevent society from reaping their benefits. She will give her view of the roots of this dilemma and offer some solutions.

"Professor Tilghman fills the bill for the Patrusky Lecture, which is my favorite tradition at New Horizons in Science," said CASW President Alan Boyle, who is also aerospace and science editor for GeekWire, a Seattle-based tech news outlet. Recalling that Tilghman gave a New Horizons presentation titled "Mammalian Gene Wars" in 1996, Boyle said: "More than 20 years ago, she told us about gene silencing, and now she'll draw upon decades of experience to give us the big picture for biomedical research."

Along with leading scientists Bruce Alberts, Judith Kimble and Harvold Varmus, Tilghman is currently engaged in a project called "Rescuing Biomedical Research," which advocates reforming the U.S. research system in order to encourage creative and innovative research and boost basic science.

In a 2014 essay and 2015 opinion piece in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S., Alberts, Tilghman, Varmus and Marc Kirschner of Harvard University decried logistical, administrative and conceptual logjams resulting from the hypercompetitive environment of U.S. biomedical science, the burden of grant writing and administration, the distorting effects of the publishing and government funding systems, and the nearly two decades of training now required to become an independent investigator.

About Shirley M. Tilghman

It will not be Tilghman's first appearance on CASW's New Horizons in Science stage. During her earlier research career, she studied the way in which genes are organized in the genome and regulated during early development and was a member of the team that cloned the first mammalian gene. She was one of the founding members of the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research. 

A member of the Princeton faculty since 1986, she was named president of the university in 2001. She returned to teaching in 2013.

As the sixth Patrusky Lecturer Tilghman will be presented a certificate and crystal sculpture. This will be one of many honors bestowed on Tilghman. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada and the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Developmental Biology, the Genetics Society of America Medal, and the L’Oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science. She is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine and The Royal Society of London. She serves as a trustee of Amherst College, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Simons Foundation, and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. She also serves on the Science Advisory Board of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, is a director of The Broad Institute and is a Fellow of the Corporation of Harvard College.

About the Patrusky Lectures and Ben Patrusky

Tilghman joins a list of distinguished scientists invited to give an authoritative and expansive address at the annual ScienceWriters meeting, which combines the workshop program of the National Association of Science Writers with CASW's New Horizons in Science briefings. Previous lectures, all available on video here, were given by George M. Whitesides of Harvard University (2013), Donald Johanson of Arizona State University and the Institute of Human Origins (2014), Jo Handelsman of Yale University and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (2015), Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas at Austin (2016), and Susan Desmond-Hellmann of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2017). 

Ben Patrusky embarked on his science-writing career in the early 1960s after earning a degree in electrical engineering from City College of New York and winning a science-writing fellowship at Columbia. After a dozen years as the research writer and science editor for the American Heart Association, in 1975 he embarked on a freelance science-writing career and took charge of the New Horizons in Science briefing program for CASW, becoming executive director in 1988. He has also orchestrated science journalism seminars for, among others, the National Academy of Sciences, Research to Prevent Blindness, the Kellogg Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.

Widely published and the author of two books, he is the recipient of the Science Journalism Award from the American Institute of Physics and the American Chemical Society’s Grady-Stack Award. He is an honorary member of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society, and for 18 years, until 2008, served as a member of the board of trustees of Science Service (now the Society for Science and the Public), publisher of Science News. Ben is a long-time member of the board of governors of one of the nation’s oldest press clubs, The Society of the Silurians.

Experience WCSJ2017 through videos and student stories

(January 11, 2018)—Although the 2017 World Conference of Science Journalists is history, the experience and content of the conference continues. CASW was pleased to join with our conference partners in ensuring that the conference is shared worldwide through video recordings, translations and student coverage

A sampling of plenary and breakout sessions and a sponsored luncheon program given were recorded. over three days, October 26-28, 2017. The videos can be viewed at CASW's YouTube channel or through the video page on the WCSJ2017 website

“As the conference approached, we thought about the many science writers who would not be able to join us in San Francisco. We hope these videos will give them a chance to experience much of the conference over the internet,” said CASW immediate past president Cristine Russell and Ron Winslow, co-chairs of the WCSJ2017 Organizing Committee. “And we hope conference attendees from around the world will share these videos and the student stories about the sessions with colleagues back home.”

Alberto Cairo's presentation at WCSJ2017The organizers also hope that colleagues around the world will contribute video subtitles so that the sessions can be experienced in languages other than the original English.

The videos are also embedded in session pages on the wcsj2017.org website, along with student coverage of the sessions.

Student journalists produced 52 reports from the conference through a special Student Travel Fellowship program organized by CASW and the National Association of Science Writers. Support to CASW from the William K. Bowes Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science provided travel grants for 22 students (from the US and other countries shown on the graphic above, created by student Anjela Djuraskovic) and technology for the student project.

Videos online include:

Additional videos are in production.

To contribute an English transcript or a translation, navigate to the video on YouTube and find the “Add translations” link. Volunteer-uploaded translations will be published after review by the WCSJ2017 organizers. CASW board member Debbie Ponchner and other members of the WCSJ2017 Regional Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean are coordinating translations by Spanish-speaking science writers.

WCSJ2017, the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists and the first to be held in the United States, was organized by NASW and CASW in partnership with the World Federation of Science Journalists and with the participation of the University of California San Francisco, UC Berkeley and the Association of Health Care Journalists. Nearly 1,400 attendees from more than 70 nations converged on San Francisco October 26-30 for program sessions, workshops, sponsored events and field trips organized around the theme of “Bridging Science and Societies.”

Susan Desmond-Hellmann presents fifth Patrusky Lecture at WCSJ2017

Susan Desmond-Hellmann, a physician and scientist who serves as chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was 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, spoke “In Defense of Science." At a time when facts-based, data-driven approaches to problems are being rejected as elitist, she made the case for science and data, drawing on personal testimony and powerful examples from the Gates Foundation’s work around the world and her own career in oncology and public health.

Desmond-Hellmann addressed journalists and science communicators from around the world gathered in San Francisco, California, for WCSJ2017. CASW and the National Association of Science Writers (NASW) were co-organizers of the conference, which incorporated CASW’s traditional New Horizons in Science briefings on research and issues in science. The conference was 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 (shown at left presenting the Patrusky Lecture glass sculpture to Desmond-Hellmann). "Her perspective is also a great fit for the annual Patrusky Lecture, which focuses on big-picture views of scientific and social frontiers."

A full video recording of the lecture may be found on the Patrusky Lectures Page.

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.

BBC science reporter Pallab Ghosh asks a question following Desmond-Hellmann's lecture. 

Patrusky Lecturer Susan Desmond-Hellmann responds to a question while session moderator Ron Winslow looks on. (All photos by David Poller.)

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.

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