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Today marks a milestone for us at STAT. We published the 2,000th First Opinion, our forum for perspectives and personal stories about health, medicine, and science, led by editor Patrick Skerrett.

From the start nearly five years ago, our goal has been to publish a range of provocative, timely, and authoritative essays that are not weighed down by jargon. We are rigorous in selecting pieces, and grateful that First Opinion has become a sought-after platform, all the more so during the pandemic.

Before Anthony Fauci became the most prominent scientist on Covid-19, he helped us lead the way, writing two First Opinions in our first year, one on his belief that all mosquitoes should be killed and the other, with Deborah Birx, on the need for an AIDS-free world.


Indeed, the cohort of First Opinion writers is a virtual who’s who in science, medicine, industry, government, politics, biotech, and academia. It includes HHS Secretary Alex Azar; NIH Director Francis Collins; CMS Administrator Seema Verma; NCI Director Ned Sharpless; Sens. Chuck Grassley, Elizabeth Warren, Marco Rubio, and Pat Leahy; former Speaker Newt Gingrich; WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; former WHO director-general Margaret Chan; former FDA administrators Margaret Hamburg and Mark McClellan; former CDC directors Julie Gerberding and Tom Freiden; 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki; ChenMed CEO Christopher Chen; Cerevel CEO Tony Coles; academics Ashish Jha, Sandro Galea, and Jeffrey Flier; BIO board chair Jeremy Levin; New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who wrote about her fear of Zika; and many more.

Yet many of our most indelible pieces are by people and practitioners you may never have heard of. A small sampling:


If you don’t already subscribe to the free weekly First Opinion newsletter, which highlights the best essays of the week, I urge you to do that and to let your colleagues and friends know about it.

Please join me on Sept. 15 for a special STAT+ Conversation with Patrick Skerrett, the architect of the First Opinion franchise.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll read First Opinion number 2,000, an essay by cardiologist and writer Haider Warraich about the “yellow berets.”

These young men applied to a special science training program in the 1960s rather than being inducted after medical school into military service through the “doctor draft” and sent to Vietnam. Nine physicians who trained at the NIH during this period went on to win Nobel Prizes. (One graduate was Fauci, who reflects on the program in an interview in this piece.)

Thank you for reading STAT, and please let me know if you have any feedback. I’m at [email protected].