Dear Journalist- 

Harvard Medical School’s Media Fellowship program, now entering its 21st year, is accepting applications for its fall 2018 session.

The fellowship brings together a small group of health, medical and science journalists and preeminent researchers and physician-scientists for an immersive weeklong program on the Harvard Medical School campus in Boston.

This year’s fellowship is will take place Sept. 24-28.

Topic: The Science of Pain

Pain—feared, misunderstood and even romanticized in art, philosophy and literature—has long captivated the imagination of neuroscientists and challenged frontline clinicians treating patients in its throes.

Despite great advances in our understanding and treatment of pain, this physiological phenomenon remains one of the great mysteries of modern neuroscience and an ever-growing challenge in clinical medicine.

What exactly is pain? Why do we feel it? How does it arise? Is all pain inherently bad? Does the brain actually feel pain? How do we measure the subjective perception of pain versus the objective sensation of pain? When is pain merely a symptom and when does it become a disease in its own right? How do clinicians balance the risk of addiction with the responsibility to never leave a patient in pain? Are opioids always bad? How does the nervous system interact with other systems in the body in developing and warding off disease?

Those are some of the questions that continue to confound scientists and some of the topics that Harvard Medical School scientists will explore in the upcoming Fall Media Fellowship.

Topics include:

  • Neurobiology of pain/basic mechanisms
  • Pain as an evolutionary mechanism
  • Measuring pain
  • The intersection between pain, inflammation and infection. How bacterial pathogens hijack pain neurons to cause disease
  • Pain syndromes and pain disorders
  • When the physician does actually feel the patient’s pain—the blessing and curse of synesthesia
  • Pediatric vs adult pain
  • Pain at the end of life
  • Pain and addiction/the opioids crisis
  • Beyond opioids—the next frontier in pain management—development of non-opioid analgesics
  • Cancer pain 

About the Media Fellowship

During the weeklong session, media fellows spend time on the medical school campus and in our affiliated hospitals and institutes to gain a deeper understanding of the spectrum of research and state of the science in a particular area. 

Reporters meet with a range of experts on a given topic, including basic scientists, translational investigators and practicing clinicians. Although reporters attend as a group, we try to work with each fellow to tailor the experience to individual interests within the broader theme.

Harvard Medical School will cover the cost of participants’ lodging, meals and ground transportation in Boston. Fellows are responsible for covering their own travel to and from the Boston area.

The fellowship is offered as an educational opportunity on a background basis. Over the past 20 years, Harvard Medical School has hosted more than 100 reporters from print, online and broadcast news outlets. Reporters spend unsupervised time with faculty, researchers and physician-scientists from affiliated hospitals and various experts from other Harvard schools and institutes. Fellows often cultivate lasting relationships with scientists and generate a wealth of story ideas.

Application Process

By midnight on Aug 1, 2018, please email [email protected] the following:

  • Three to five news clips of stories on topics related to health, medicine or science
  • Two to three paragraphs detailing why you are interested in attending and what you hope to take away from the fellowship 
  • A brief bio (up to 500 words)

In addition, please state that you have approval from your editor, or usual freelance clients, to cover the topic broadly at some point in the future.

Journalists are not obligated to cover Harvard’s work in the area, just the field as a whole. 

We look forward to hearing from you or from someone you think would benefit from this experience.

Please contact me with any questions at [email protected] or 617-432-0441.