Get to Know STAT at ScienceWriters2015

ScienceWriters2015 attendees: If you're looking for an activity to spice up your first day in Cambridge, sign up now to attend Dispatches from the Front Lines of Life Sciences, a public form organized by STAT at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard, from 3:00 to 5:30 pm on Friday, October 9. Go to STAT's Eventbrite page, click the link for "Enter promotional code," and enter the code SCIENCE.

Obviously, science and medical journalists haven't been immune to the last decade's epidemic of downsizing in many big-city newsrooms. So it's unusual to hear about a news organization that's scaling up and hiring writers and editors who understand health and biotech.

But that's exactly what's happening at STAT, the forthcoming online-only life sciences publication from Boston Globe Media. And at ScienceWriters2015, you'll have two big chances to learn what the new organization, led by former Politico editor Rick Berke, is really up to.

Well, actually, the folks at STAT have already started to explain what they're doing. "We’re coming at this with no small amount of ambition," writes longtime New York Times reporter Bob Tedeschi, who joined STAT this summer. Reflecting the original medical meaning of the word stat—i.e., "take this drug immediately"—the publication aims to provide "life-sciences news that carries with it the potential for actual life-changing information," Tedeschi says. 

In October, STAT editors and writers will share their plans, hopes, and obsessions even more directly, in two events designed with ScienceWriters2015 attendees in mind.

The first is a panel discussion and Q&A organized by STAT's editors as part of HUBweek, Boston's new week-long festival of art, science, and technology. Called Dispatches from the Front Lines of Life Sciences, it's happening Friday, October 9, from 3:00 - 5:30 pm, at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard at 400 Technology Square in Kendall Square.

That's right before the ScienceWriters2015 welcome reception, which will be held at Walker Memorial on the MIT campus, a short walk away from the Ragon Institute.

[Updated 9/3/15] "Dispatches" will open with a panel discussion on the current and future state of the life sciences industry  between Berke; two STAT staffers, national correspondent Carl Zimmer and senior writer Sharon Begley, both widely admired in the profession for their reporting and storytelling skills; and Meg Tirrell, biotech and pharma reporter for CNBC, who is co-host of the forthcoming STAT podcast.

Following the panel, Eric Lander, the legendary mathematician and geneticist and founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, will be interviewed on stage by Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus, co-director of MIT's Graduate Program in Science Writing, and a contributing writer for STAT.

STAT is reserving most of the seats at the "Dispatches" event for ScienceWriters2015 attendees. To sign up, go to STAT's Eventbrite page and look for the "Enter promotional code" link in the top section. Enter the code SCIENCE and you're good to go.

The second STAT event planned for the ScienceWriters2015 weekend is something a little more relaxed: the traditional Sunday night bash, which will be hosted by STAT at Boston Globe headquarters in Boston's JFK/UMass neighborhood.

Buses will leave the conference hotel, the Hyatt Regency Cambridge, at 6:30 pm to transport attendees to the Globe building. There, party-goers will enjoy a fabulous spread of food and drink courtesy of STAT and great dance music courtesy of New England Science Writers and Jackson Laboratory. STAT editors and staff will be on hand, and guides will lead guests on tours of the Globe's printing press facilities and the beautiful new STAT newsroom.

Be sure to opt in to attend the party when you're registering for ScienceWriters2015. Space and transportation restrictions mean that attendance will be limited to the first 500 people who sign up. 

Here at the Knight Science Journalism program we're incredibly grateful to STAT, the Gold Sponsor of ScienceWriters2015, for their generous support of the meeting. And we hope you'll take these opportunities to get to know the publication and all the terrific people who have already joined it (not the least being Gideon Gil, STAT's managing editor for enterprise and partnerships, who was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow in 2014-15, my year as KSJ acting director).

Speaker Bios

Carl Zimmer is a columnist for the New York Times. He began his career in science writing at Discover, where he served as a senior editor from 1994 to 1999, and has gone on to write for magazines such as National Geographic, The Atlantic, and Wired. He is  the author of a dozen books, including Parasite Rex and Evolution: Making Sense of Life. Since 2009, Zimmer has been a frequent contributor to RadioLab, where he has talked about everything from giant viruses to the speed of thought. In 2015 he was awarded the Public Service Award by the National Association of Biology Teachers. 

Sharon Begley is the senior science writer at Stat, covering basic research in the life sciences. She was previously the health and science correspondent at Reuters, and before that the science columnist at the Wall Street Journal and a science editor at Newsweek. She is also the author of several books on neuroscience, including Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain.

Meg Tirrell covers the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries for CNBC. She joined the network from Bloomberg News, where she led biotech coverage and contributed to Bloomberg Television and Bloomberg Businessweek. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in English and music from Wellesley College.

Rick Berke, Stat’s executive editor, is focused on building a thriving news organization whose journalism will serve as an indispensable guide to the world of life sciences. Before coming to Boston, Rick was a reporter and editor at The New York Times for 28 years, where he served in a series of roles, including as chief political correspondent for more than a decade, national editor, video content editor and two tours as an assistant managing editor. He also served as executive editor at Politico.

Eric Lander is President and Founding Director of the Broad Institute. A geneticist, molecular biologist and mathematician, Dr. Lander has played a pioneering role in all aspects of the reading, understanding and medical application of the human genome. He was a principal leader of the international Human Genome Project (HGP) from 1990-2003, with his group being the largest contributor to the mapping and sequencing of the human blue-print.

Over the past 15 years, Eric and colleagues have continued to develop many of the key tools and informational resources of modern mammalian genomics. They have developed new analytical and laboratory techniques that have been applied to a wide range of common diseases.

A recipient of numerous honors and awards, Eric has been appointed by President Obama to co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. He is professor of biology at MIT and professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School.

Eric earned his B.A. in mathematics from Princeton University (1978) and his Ph.D. in mathematics from Oxford University (1981) as a Rhodes Scholar.

Seth Mnookin is Associate Director of the Graduate Program in Science Writing and Director of the Communications Forum at MIT. His most recent book, The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy, won the National Association of Science Writers “Science in Society” Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times book prize. He is also the author of the 2006 New York Times bestseller Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top and 2004’s Hard News: The Scandals at The New York Times and Their Meaning for American Media, which was a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. His essays and reporting have appeared in the past two Best American Science and Nature Writing anthologies and in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, Smithsonian, New York, Wired, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Spin, Slate, and Salon.com. 

Wade Roush

10 Museum Way, Cambridge, MA, 02141, United States

Science and technology journalist based in San Francisco.