appy New Year!
Thank you for your interest in STAT. We’re grateful that since our November launch, we have built an engaged and thoughtful readership in the United States and around the world.
I wanted to start the new year by sharing some of our ambitious plans for 2016. We’ll have a story in coming days by David Armstrong with fresh revelations about concussions in college football; it’s part of our continuing series on concussions. Look for national correspondent Carl Zimmer’s deep dive into his own DNA in another compelling series. And watch for us to deliver important stories from overseas (starting today, in fact, with a fascinating profile from Cambridge, England, of Fiona Godlee, a muckraking journal editor).
We’ll be offering several new newsletter options this year, starting with the best of Pharmalot, Ed Silverman’s must-read column about the drug industry. (Don’t worry, we’ll continue to hit your inbox at 6 a.m. with Megan Thielking’s Morning Rounds, a runaway hit.) We’re also expanding our expert commentary section, First Opinion, which editor Patrick Skerrett has turned into a lively forum on everything from the ethics of genome editing to the merits of regulating dietary supplements. And we’ll be a go-to source for health and science issues that intersect with the presidential campaign, including our monthly national polls with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Our authoritative and engaging Signal podcast, with veteran biotech journalists Luke Timmerman and Meg Tirrell, has already drawn a loyal following. The next installment: a preview of next week’s J.P. Morgan biotech investment conference in San Francisco, the industry’s event of the year.
Before we dive headlong into 2016, I’d like to reflect, briefly, on the two months since we launched — two months in which STAT has produced nearly 600 stories, told in words, video, photographs, and data visualizations by dozens of journalists from our headquarters in Boston and our offices in Washington, New York, and San Francisco.
Our best-read piece, which has even been translated into Chinese, was Sharon Begley’s penetrating profile of Feng Zhang, widely considered the most transformative biologist of his generation. Don’t miss the accompanying video from Dom Smith and Matthew Orr, who found the whimsy in a daunting subject like gene editing with CRISPR-Cas9.
We see our role as that of a journalistic watchdog, and I’m proud of our first two investigations. Charles Piller found that many of the most prestigious universities and hospitals in the United States routinely break a law that requires them to publicly report results of human studies of new treatments. His story, with a striking data visualization by Natalia Bronshtein, was hailed as a crucial call to action by top officials at the WHO and NIH. In another special report, Sheila Kaplan found that a device widely promoted for use in heart surgery was never, in fact, approved for that purpose — and carried hidden dangers for patients.
We also want to tell deeply personal stories, like Bob Tedeschi’s unforgettable look at the emotional toll of targeted therapies that pull cancer patients back from the brink of death — but only temporarily. Or a piece by Rebecca Robbins on two paralyzed patients who found hope in a startup’s experimental device, chronicled their ups and downs on social media — and took the company’s stock on a roller coaster ride.
We always aim to be authoritative, but we love to find the fun in the life sciences, too. I’m a big fan of our Science Happens! series; check out Carl mimicking a dolphin as he plays a video game being tested as a treatment for people recovering from stroke. And I still get a kick out of this video explaining how Donald Trump once lent his brand to a dubious vitamin business. Also be sure to read Leah Samuel’s great list of seven creepy crawlies that could be the future of medicine.
I’ve called out mostly feature stories, but STAT’s mission also includes staying on top of, and ahead of, the news. We aim to keep you informed of the latest lab discoveries, pharma and biotech developments, and political news that could affect public policy on health care and medical research. When Jimmy Carter announced his brain cancer was gone, we weighed in immediately with a piece on how his advanced age may actually have helped him beat the odds. On New Year’s Eve, Helen Branswell brought us word of an important development in the fight against polio, and Melissa Bailey explained a breakthrough finding involving potential gene therapy for a fatal disease.
As STAT grows and evolves, I’d encourage you to share your comments, critiques, and story ideas. You can reach reporters and editors directly through our staff page. We’ve also set up a page to collect more general feedback.
Thank you for reading STAT.