Science News Molecular Biology senior writer Tina Hesman Saey wins National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Award

Saey’s “Genetic Testing Goes Mainstream” wins 2019 Communications Award

WASHINGTON — The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) today announced that Tina Hesman Saey, Senior Writer, Molecular Biology for Science News, has won a 2019 Communications Award in the newspaper/magazine category for her series, “Genetic Testing Goes Mainstream.”

“Congratulations to Tina on this exceptional achievement,” said Nancy Shute, Science News editor in chief. “Her deep reporting, graceful writing and ability to make complex topics, like genetics, understandable to mainstream audiences resulted in a series that is a true public service.”

The $20,000 prize, supported by the W.M. Keck Foundation, recognizes excellence in reporting and communicating science, engineering and medicine to the general public. This is the final year of these awards, which launched in 2003 as part of the Keck Futures Initiative. The winners of each of the four categories will be honored during a ceremony on Oct. 16 in Washington, D.C.

Millions of people have bought genetic tests that purport to reveal their ancestry, medical risks or even what weight-loss plan will work best. Saey’s months-long investigation reveals that those tests promise far more than they deliver, and are often misleading or wrong. Those shortcomings put people’s health, privacy and wallets at risk. She also used popular tests herself, and analyzed her own genetic data to help people decide if the tests would be useful for them. According to the NAS judges: “A timely, informative, and eminently readable series on the uses and limitations of DNA testing for both medical and ancestry purposes.”

“Tina is an extraordinary writer and communicator,” said Maya Ajmera, President & CEO of the Society for Science & the Public and Publisher of Science News. “We are so proud of her and this accomplishment.”

Saey holds a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s in science journalism from Boston University. She worked at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before joining Science News.

“I’m honored that the Academies have recognized my work and grateful to work at Science News where science and journalism are supported in equal measure,” said Saey.

Science News Editor in Chief Nancy Shute and Society Board of Trustees members Laura Helmuth and Joe Palca were on the judging panel and recused themselves from the newspaper/magazine category.

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