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William C. Knowler is chief of the Diabetes Epidemiology and Clinical Research Section in the Division of Intramural Research at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The Institute has primary responsibility for diabetes research at the National Institutes of Health. For more than three decades, Dr. Knowler has conducted research on diabetes in the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona, looking for insights into the genetic and environmental factors that lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes.

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While a weekend snowstorm raged in Washington, D.C., a small group of health care advocates gathered in a conference room at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and were treated to a history lesson as well as a glimpse into the cold realities of Indian Country.

The topic: American Indian Health Policy. And unlike the weather that everyone talks about, a trio of speakers addressed a subject they insist is largely overlooked.

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We have a guest post today from Felice Freyer, veteran medical writer for the Providence Journal, member of the Association of Health Care Journalists Board of Directors and chair of AHCJ's Right to Know Committee.

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All Dr. Narinder Kumar had to do to stay in practice was make one phone call a day.

The phone call was a little unusual but straightforward. Kumar, a pediatrician in Davenport, Iowa, had to call a lab with a contract with the Iowa Board of Medicine to find out whether he had to give a urine sample that day. Kumar had agreed to this arrangement in May 2006.

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Dr. Patrick Dean has pulled off a magic trick to make Houdini proud.

The founder and president of GI Pathology, a national testing laboratory based in Memphis, Dean has practiced medicine without a license in at least two states. Practicing without a license is often a career killer for a physician. Not so with Dean.

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When historians write the history of ghostwriting in U.S. medicine, they will mark Sept. 17, 2009 as pivotal.

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Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman has become the go-to source for comments on how drug companies have been using ghostwriters to inject marketing messages into the medical literature, a controversy that prompted powerful Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, to send a letter on Aug. 11 to the National Institutes of Health asking, among other things, "What is the current NIH policy on ghostwriting with regards to NIH researchers?"

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If DesignWrite, the medical communications firm that has been ghostwriting articles on behalf of drug giant Wyeth, were an elementary school student, it would have a stack of papers heavy with gold stars.

Dr. Gloria Bachmann, the associate dean for women's health at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J., told the company it had written an "an A plus article" after it wrote a review article that Bachmann agreed to sign. The article appeared with hardly a word changed in The Journal of Reproductive Medicine.

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In December, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter to Mitchell A. Leon, the president of DesignWrite Inc., the company that has now become Exhibit A in the unfolding ghostwriting scandal that has medical journal editors everywhere combing through their submissions looking for fakes.

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Announcements

“Racism in medicine is a national emergency.” That’s how journalist Nicholas St. Fleur characterized the crisis facing American health care this spring, as his team at STAT embarked on “Color Code,” an eight-episode series exploring medical mistrust in communities of color across the country. In this webinar, we’ll take inspiration from their work to discuss strategies and examples for telling stories about inequities, disparities and racism in health care systems. Sign-up here!

The USC Center for Health Journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is seeking two Engagement Editors to serve as thought leaders in one of the most innovative and rewarding arenas in journalism today – “engaged reporting” that puts the community at the center of the reporting process. Learn more about the positions and apply to join our team.

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