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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 21, 2004

Journalist To Discuss Strengths, Pitfalls Of Communicating Science

Finding ways to effectively convey complex science information in the deadline-driven world of journalism can be a challenge for both researchers and reporters. On Thursday, Oct. 28, David Brown, a science writer for the Washington Post, will discuss the process of communicating science in his presentation, "Evidence and Anecdote: Medicine and Science in the Popular Press."

The presentation, to be held from noon to 1 p.m. in Room 20 of the Nursing Building on the University of Iowa campus, is free and open to the public. It also will be broadcast live over the Iowa Communications Network and via streaming video on the web.

In his talk, Brown will describe the strengths and weaknesses of the press's handling of science and medicine. He will focus on newspapers in his discussion of journalistic views and methods that sometimes lead to misrepresentation of scientific information. He also will offer practical guidance for scientists and public health officials who interact with reporters.

Brown graduated from Amherst College in 1973 with a major in American Studies. He worked as a reporter at The Greenwood (Miss.) Commonwealth for two years and at the Baltimore Sun for six years. He left journalism to attend the Medical College of Pennsylvania, graduating with an M.D. in 1987. He then completed an internal medicine residency at the joint University of Maryland Hospital/Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center program in Baltimore. He was an occasional contributor of medical news pieces to National Public Radio during medical school and residency. In 1987, he won the William Carlos Williams Poetry Prize, a national prize given for a poem written by a medical student.

In 1991, Brown took a job as a science and medicine reporter at The Washington Post. Over the last 13 years, he has covered a diverse number of subjects, including the famine in Somalia, the emergence and examination of Gulf War illnesses, the transformation of the AIDS epidemic in the United States by antiretroviral therapy, international HIV/AIDS treatment programs, the polio eradication initiative, issues related to influenza and SARS and various topics on medical treatment and medical history. He also currently supervises residents and students at a general internal medicine clinic at the University of Maryland Hospital one day a week.

The Oct. 28 program is part of the fall 2004 Grand Rounds series sponsored by the Iowa Center for Public Health Preparedness (ICPHP). Advanced registration is requested and may be completed online at Links to the live Web broadcast, as well as archives of past presentations, are available on the center's site.

The presentation is sponsored by the Iowa Center for Public Health Preparedness, based in the UI College of Public Health, and the Iowa Association of Local Public Health Agencies. The ICPHP is funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through a cooperative agreement with the Association of Schools of Public Health.

For more information about the Grand Rounds series, contact Angela Harding, program assistant with the Center for Public Health Preparedness, at (319) 335-8451 or by e-mail at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

MEDIA CONTACT: Debra Venzke, 319-335-9647,