Susan Okie receives microbiology communcations award

Susan Okie, medical reporter at The Washington Post, has been named the recipient of the 2000 American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Public Communications Award. Her winning entry "Science Races to Stem TB's Threat" and "TB Fights Back," a two-part series on tuberculosis that appeared August 10 and August 17, 1999, examines the advances made toward eliminating tuberculosis and the current worldwide resurgence of the disease. The articles illustrate just how difficult it is to control microbes like the tuberculosis bacterium, despite all of the past century's medical advances.

Beginning her report in New York City, Okie followed public health workers as they struggled to keep drug-resistant tuberculosis under control. She interviewed experts about the complex scientific, social, economic, and political difficulties involved in such an undertaking and clearly conveyed how the tuberculosis bacterium mutates and evolves to remain a major public health threat. In conclusion she stressed the importance of researching new medicines and vaccines for tuberculosis if it is to be eradicated.

"Okie realized that the battle against tuberculosis provided the perfect opportunity to show how far medicine has come in combating pathogenic agents as well as the limits of modern science in fighting age-old scourges at the dawn of a new century," said The Washington Post Science Editor Rob Stein, who nominated her for the award.

A native of Los Angeles, Okie has been reporting for The Washington Post since 1979. She was the paper's science editor from 1994-1996, and currently covers medicine on the national staff. Trained as a physician, Okie completed her residency at the University of Connecticut Medical School in Farmington in 1983, and served on the faculty there until 1985. She has won journalism awards for a number of her articles and is the co-author of the children's book To Space and Back, an account of a trip on the space shuttle.

The annual award ca

Contact: Barbara Hyde
American Society for Microbiology

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