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Biography

I had been planning to semi-retire this spring, but then COVID-19 happened. Like other science and medical writers, especially those of us trained as life scientists (my PhD is in genetics), I was suddenly covering the pandemic, for the three publications I was already regularly contributing to: Medscape Medical News, Genetic Literacy Project, and of course my blog, DNA Science, which Public Library of Science hosts. 

 

I report breaking news from researchers and clinicians, dip deep into the history of pandemics and epidemics, and explain the genetics and genomics behind diagnostics, therapeutics, the basic biology and epidemiology of the pathogen, and why the novel coronavirus kills some while having no obvious effect on many others. 

 

I'll continue to post my DNA Science and Genetic Literacy Project articles here, with their links. Search Medscape (https://www.medscape.com/) under my name for those articles.

 

Below is my bio from the time before the pandemic. 

 

I've had a long career as an author of life science textbooks (36 editions, I think, so far); my favorite is Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications. The thirteenth edition will be published in September, the schedule allowing me to swap out an image of Zika virus for SARS-CoV-2. Along the way I've written thousands of articles when things called magazines existed, and since 2012, when I started the DNA Science blog at Public Library of Science, many posts.

 

I currently publish 2-5 posts a week, at DNA Science, as a news writer for Medscape Medical News, and as senior contributor to Genetic Literacy Project. My readers are other scientists, health care professionals, and regular folk, respectively.

 

The highlight of my career was writing my narrative nonfiction book The Forever Fix: Gene Therapy and the Boy Who Saved It (St. Martin's Press, 2013), which tells the story of the first gene therapy approved in the US, four years before that happened. I've also published, for Routledge Press, two editions of a short and inexpensive book, Human Genetics: The Basics.

 

In September 2018, I was stunned to learn that I have a half-sister I never knew I had. In January 2019, in the wake of DNA testing kits being given as holiday gifts, I discovered several other half-siblings. We are all products of a shared sperm donor. I am a living science experiment! 

 

I teach "Genethics" online to graduate bioethics students for the Alden March Bioethics Institute at Albany Medical College and provide genetic counseling at CareNet Medical Group in Schenectady, New York.