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Medical Evidence Boot Camp, December 3 and 4, 2012

Location: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
Application deadline: September 14, 2012

One of the most difficult challenges facing journalists is the uncertainty of evidence in science, medicine, energy and environmental studies. Studies are hard to decipher, and sometimes appear to reach contradictory conclusions. But the public’s interest in health and science news, and the need for reliable information, is growing. To help journalists make sense of all this, we offer an intensive course on how to evaluate scientific and medical evidence.
The boot camp begins with an overview of clinical and epidemiological research methods, giving journalists the tools to understand and evaluate medical studies. Through lectures and discussions, we’ll look at science’s ways of studying different phenomena, from diseases to oil spills, from DNA to human migration. We’ll offer practical methods for getting the numbers in the news right.

We’ll explore how new drugs are tested, and look at how the FDA, the NIH and other agencies evaluate treatments, old and new. We’ll look at the rise of “evidence-based medicine” and why expensive care may not be good care. (Don’t be surprised to learn that a lot of what doctors do has little or no evidence to prove that it works.)

For each boot camp, 10 to 12 journalists will be chosen to attend, joining the 12 Knight Fellows already in residence at MIT. Applicants may be freelance or staff reporters, writers, editors or producers, and must have at least three years of full-time experience in journalism.

If selected, we will reimburse you for up to $750 of your travel expenses to Cambridge, pay for your hotel room and provide most meals.

For more information, you can contact us at 617-452-3513 or by email at