Sabin Russell, Reynolds Holding, and Elizabeth Fernandez
San Francisco Chronicle reporters Sabin Russell, Reynolds Holding and Elizabeth Fernandez told a compelling and suspenseful story about the flu vaccine industry that reminded some judges of Upton Sinclair's accounts of the meat industry nearly a century ago.
Last fall's national chaos signaled a clear warning to Russell, a science reporter, about a flawed system that warranted greater understanding.
teamed up with Holding, who has a strong legal background and Fernandez, an investigative reporter.
In addition to extensive interviews, investigative efforts included Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
and acquisition of meeting transcripts from vaccine policy committees of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
What emerged was picture of a brittle system pushed beyond limits to vaccinate as many people as possible.
"All it takes is a subtle genetic change in flu viruses and we could have a pandemic like in 1918," said Russell
, who hopes their stories add pressure to correct the system's vulnerabilities.
Sabin Russell is a medical writer at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he has been a reporter for 15 years and currently covers medical science and health policy.
has a particular focus on infectious diseases, and has primary responsibility for the paper's coverage of AIDS.
In recent months, however, much of his
work has involved coverage of anthrax and other biological weapons.
Russell's work on AIDS has taken him twice to Africa, including coverage of the 13th International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa in 2000.
With a grant from the Kaiser Family Foundation
has traveled to Uganda, Kenya and Zimbabwe as well as South Africa.
has written extensively on the efforts to produce low-cost generic AIDS drugs in developing countries, and covered the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS this past summer.
has written or co-authored numerous investigative pieces.
Topics include the failed merger of UCSF
hospitals; a probe of the controversial Nezhat brothers, three renowned gynecological surgeons recently suspended by Stanford
for "seriously deficient'' academic research; and the story of how a rogue medical laboratory faked results of HIV and hepatitis tests on state prisoners, and how California subsequently failed to retest inmates.
science articles have covered topics as diverse as apoptosis, or programmed cell death, to presbyopia, the reason why almost everyone over the age of 43 needs reading glasses.
previously covered venture capital and entrepreneurs as San Francisco bureau chief for Venture Magazine; covered the Silicon Valley semiconductor industry for Electronic News
, and began his
career 25 years ago as a writer for community weekly newspapers in Vermont and New Hampshire.
Russell graduated from Yale in 1974, and is married to San Francisco children's book author and illustrator Ashley Wolff, and they have two boys.