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Magazine, writers earn top AAMC honors

Stanford Medicine magazine was recognized by its peers at academic medical centers for the quality of the publication and three of the pieces it published.

- By Susan Ipaktchian

Epidermolysis bullosa patient Garrett Spaulding and his Stanford doctors were featured in "The butterfly effect," a story published in the summer 2015 issue of the magazine.
Max Aguilera-Hellweg

Stanford Medicine magazine and three of the stories published in the magazine in 2015 earned the highest possible awards in the annual competition sponsored by the American Association of Medical Colleges.

Stanford Medicine, which is produced by the medical school’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs, received an Award of Excellence in the external-audience periodical category. Judges for the competition praised the magazine’s “beautiful design and elegant layout,” and also noted that the “writing was very good and keeps the reader engaged.” The magazine’s editor is Rosanne Spector.

The magazine also earned the top award in each of the three AAMC writing categories.

Science writer Krista Conger received an Award of Excellence in the general staff writing category for “The butterfly effect.” The article, published in the summer 2015 issue, focused on the quest for a treatment for what might be the most painful skin disease of all: the blistering disease epidermolysis bullosa. It highlighted the experiences of two patients and the testing of a stem cell gene therapy technique aimed at easing the blistering. “This story was engrossing; you made an immediate connection to the patients, and that made you want to understand more about this disease. Very well done,” wrote one judge.

The late Paul Kalanithi received an award for his essay, "Before I go."
Gregg Segal

Conger also received an Award of Excellence in the basic-science staff writing category for “The time of your life.” In the article, published in the spring issue of the magazine, Conger recounted the efforts of researchers Anne Brunet, PhD, Thomas Rando, MD, PhD, and others who are trying to understand the aging process. The judges said the story was well-researched and included a variety of angles. “I was genuinely curious to learn more about the research and had several ‘wow’ moments throughout,” one judge wrote.

The late Paul Kalanithi, MD, received an Award of Excellence in the solicited articles category for his essay “Before I go.” In the piece, Kalanithi described how his perception of time changed as a neurosurgeon-turned-patient facing a terminal diagnosis. It was published in the spring issue of the magazine just a few weeks before he died of lung cancer. One judge wrote, “I was blown away by this simple, yet profound piece of writing. It tugged at my heartstrings and pulled me into the intimate thoughts of a man who is a surgeon, father and patient.”

The awards are given by the AAMC’s Group on Institutional Advancement, which includes communications, development and alumni relations staff at academic medical centers. This year’s awards will be presented April 14 at the group’s annual meeting in Phoenix.

Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care (formerly Stanford Hospital & Clinics), and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. For more information, please visit the Office of Communication & Public Affairs site at

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