Lawrence K. Altman – Reporter, Science Times
Altman, M.D., is one of the few full-fledged medical doctors working as a
full-time daily newspaper reporter. He
has been a member of The New York Times science news staff since 1969. In addition to reporting, he writes the
“Doctor’s World” column in Science Times.
Born on June 19, 1937, in Quincy, Mass., Dr. Altman
went from Milton Academy to Harvard, from which he
graduated in 1958 with a bachelor of arts degree, cum laude, in
government. He received his medical
degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1962.
In college and
medical school, Dr. Altman covered sports, did feature writing and helped out
on the city desk at The Quincy (Mass.)
Patriot Ledger. At Harvard, he was
advertising manager and treasurer of The Lampoon.
medical internship was at Mt. Zion Hospital,
in 1962 and 1963. He then served for
three years with the U.S. Public Health Service’s Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention in Atlanta
as editor of its “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report”, a journal dealing
with reported cases of communicable diseases in the world. He then helped set up a measles immunization
program for eight West African countries, which later was merged with the World
Health Organization’s program that eradicated smallpox from the world. Dr. Altman then became chief of the U.S.
Public Health Service’s Division of Epidemiology and Immunization in Washington.
From 1966 to
1968, Dr. Altman was a resident in internal medicine at the University of
Washington Affiliated Hospitals in Seattle,
and later became a senior fellow there in medical genetics.
Dr. Altman has written articles for various scholarly
publications on such subjects as viral encephalitis, canine cadaver blood and
self experimentation. In 1974, he won
the Claude Bernard Science Journalism Award for a story in The Times entitled:
“Baboon Experiment Shows Alcohol Damages Liver, Even With Good Diet.” He also won the award in 1971 for an article
on how dogs that had been taught to smoke developed cancer.
In 1982, 1983, and 1995, Dr. Altman won the Howard W.
Blakeslee Award of the American Heart Association. He is the only science writer to win the
award in two successive years. In 2001,
Dr. Altman won the Howard Lewis Career Award from the American Heart
In 1986, Dr. Altman won a George Polk award for his series
on AIDS in Africa. In 2000, he won the first Victor Cohn Prize
for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting from the Council for the
Advancement of Science Writing.
His book, “Who Goes First? The Story of Self-Experimentation
in Medicine,” is published by the University
of California at Berkeley
In 2004, Dr. Altman received the University
of California at San
Francisco’s medal and the Walsh McDermott award from the Associated
Medical Schools of New York.
Dr. Altman, who holds medical licenses in the states of Washington, California
and New York, is a clinical professor at the New York University Medical
School. He is a Master of the American
College of Physicians, a Fellow of the
of Epidemiology and the New York Academy of Medicine and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of
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