Nature Magazine Chief Features Editor Wins 2010 Wistar Institute Science Journalism Award

Nature Magazine Chief Features Editor Wins 2010 Wistar Institute Science Journalism Award

June 20, 2010

(PHILADELPHIA – June 21, 2010) – Helen Pearson, chief features editor at Nature, is the winner of the 2010 Wistar Institute Science Journalism Award. Pearson's winning entry titled "One Gene, Twenty Years," investigates research advances and obstacles since the discovery of the cystic fibrosis gene in 1989. For her work, she will receive a certificate of award and a cash prize of $5,000. The winning article can be read at

In announcing the winner, the panel of judges said, "The judges for the 2010 Wistar Institute Science Journalism Award are pleased to give this year's prize to Helen Pearson of Nature. Pearson's piece, "One Gene, Twenty Years," is a thoughtful exploration of the successes and disappointments in the 20 years of research since the discovery of the cystic fibrosis gene. Pearson's piece was timely, smart, and engaging. In a well-researched, well-paced article, she conveyed how the hope and hype of genomics and gene therapy collide with clinical reality. The judges especially commend Pearson for doing what science journalists often neglect – revisit long-ago discoveries that haven't yet lived up to the scientists' or public's expectations. And ask why."

Pearson started at Nature as an online reporter in 2001, and became chief features editor in 2009. Her reporting focuses on biomedical science, including the complexity of genetics. Pearson earned a doctorate in developmental genetics from the University of Edinburgh, U.K., and has won awards from the U.K. Medical Journalists' Association and the U.K. Periodical Publishers Association.

The five members of the 2010 judging committee are: Sue Goetinck Ambrose (co-chair), science writer, Dallas Morning News, and winner of the 2004 Wistar Institute Science Journalism Award; Nancy Shute (co-chair), senior writer, U.S. News & World Report; David Baron, health and science editor, "The World," Public Radio International; Jon Palfreman, president, Palfreman Film Group; and Bijal Trivedi, winner of the 2006 Wistar Institute Science Journalism Award, who has written for National Geographic, New Scientist, Science and others.

The Wistar Institute Science Journalism Award annually honors the most insightful and enterprising reporting on the basic biomedical sciences in print or broadcast journalism. Established in 2004, the prize has emerged as a major award in professional journalism. Submissions for the contest were competitive this year, as in years past, with 97 strong entries received from top journalists reporting for more than 35 major print, broadcast, and electronic media outlets across the country.

The award acknowledges direct reporting on a significant research advance, exploration of fundamental science underlying a major news story, identification of an emerging trend in scientific thinking, or a thoughtful investigation of the research process. Journalism that expresses the same skepticism encouraged by science itself is given particular attention, as is coverage with the prescience to identify and illuminate the significance of research that may appear, at first glance, to be more limited in scope.

Science journalists working in all media are invited to submit their work for consideration for the 2011 Wistar Institute Science Journalism Award. Up to five stories or broadcast reports from an individual journalist or team of journalists may be submitted as an entry. The work must have been published or broadcast in English in the U.S. between January 1 and December 31, 2010. The deadline for submissions is February 28, 2011.

The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in cancer research and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the country, Wistar has long held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute. The Institute works actively to transfer its inventions to the commercial sector to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible. The Wistar Institute: Today's Discoveries – Tomorrow's Cures. On the web at