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Science writer Cook, WGBH's 'NOVA' team win national prizes

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Sep. 23--Boston Globe science reporter Gareth Cook won a $20,000 prize from the National Academies yesterday for his reporting on the social and scientific impacts of stem cell research.

The Academies, one of the nation's premier scientific organizations, also gave Communications Awards to a team from the WGBH-TV science program "NOVA" and to John M. Barry, author of "The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History."

Cook also won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism this year for his writing on the promise and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem cells, which can become virtually any tissue in the body. Research using human embryonic stem cells involves the destruction of embryos, and President Bush has limited federal funding for the research.

Cook won the Academies' award for newspapers, magazines, and online reporting.

Barry, a Rhode Island native who lives in New Orleans, won the award for books "for his sobering narrative about infectious disease epidemics past and future," according to a statement from the Academies.

The book centers on the flu epidemic of 1918, when World War I military camps served as a breeding ground for the virus that killed tens of millions of people.

Thomas Levenson and Paula Apsell won the award for TV and radio for their "NOVA" program "Origins: Back to the Beginning," which the Academies described as a "highly visual and accessible history of the origins and evolution of the cosmos." Levenson produced, directed, and wrote the show, while Apsell was senior executive producer.

"It is an honor to recognize the achievements of these individuals, and the vital role they play in improving the public's understanding of science, engineering, and medicine," said Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences, one of four organizations within the National Academies.

The National Academies, which also includes the Institute of Medicine, advises the federal government and the public on science and health policies.

The group, which has been giving its Communications Award since 2003, will recognize the winners on Nov. 10 in Irvine, Calif.


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