Gary Schwitzer and his team of judges at HealthNewsReview.org are tough--so tough that if they were judging the Olympics, they would probably fail to award gold in most events. (The American team thanks them for staying home.)
So it's worth reporting when they find a story that they describe as "a beautifully written two-part report" that contains "some excellent reporting and writing."
The story in question, by Robin Erb at The Detroit Free Press, is about a trial of neural stem cells as a treatment for Lou Gehrig's disease, or ALS. It's a very early trial, intended to determine safety, not efficacy. As Schwitzer and colleagues point out, she does a good job of explaining the science. And I'd point out that one of the nice things about her writing is the frequent use of clipped paragraphs, some less than one line long. An example:
It was 2:34 p.m. when Boulis asked for the cells.
For the next half hour, the vials were readied for the patented apparatus, on which an injection devide slid along a guide to Tessaro's spinal cord. It would inject 100,000 cells for each of five stops precisely 4 millimeters apart.
The target was the ventral horn of the spinal cord, a tiny area associated with motor neurons.
"Just looking at the spine can hurt it," Glass had said earlier.
It's easy to overuse this trick, but Erb doesn't. And when it's done correctly, it can provide a sense of urgency and immediacy.
HealthNewsReview.org gives her 9 points out of a possible 10. That should clinch the gold.