In announcing the award for "Polio: The Final Assault", the judges cited Roberts' "first-rate reporting" and described the story as "meticulously researched and beautifully told," and "a compelling read without loss of technical accuracy."
The American Society for Microbiology said the story offered a powerful account of how microbiology, public health and society interact. "We are delighted and honoured by this award," said Colin Norman, Science's news editor. "Leslie's reporting, especially her first-hand account of the polio campaign in India, vividly brought out the science and the drama behind a critical public health issue. It's a superb piece of reporting and writing."
Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million.
Roberts' story, appearing in the 26 March 2004 issue of Science, was reported from Washington D.C., Atlanta and India. It offered a comprehensive global account of a 16-year, multi-billion dollar program of research, tracking and immunization aimed at eradicating the disease.
In part because of social and political obstacles, the goal is remarkably difficult to achieve, but Roberts describes why the polio eradication team considers the current campaign their last and best chance to succeed.
The ASM Public Communications Award was established in 1996 to recognize achievement in promoting public understanding of microbiology. A plaque and a $2,500 cash prize will be presented to Roberts in Atlanta on this year's ASM General Meeting in June.
MEDICA.de; Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science