About Amy

           Enjoying the view from Prom Thep Cape 
Elephant Shrine, Phuket, Thailand
Hi, there! So happy you stopped by to learn a little about me.

Here's my lede: I'm an award-winning scientific and medical communicator with over 25 years experience in journalism, medical research, university and governmental public affairs, non-profit management, and as the owner of a small health communications company, Amy Stone Scientific and Medical Communications, Inc.

And here's my backstory: I grew up on a seed corn farm in the Midwest, which meant genetics was always at the fore, whether plant, animal, or human. It seemed most dinner conversations included discussion about evaluating traits, looking for patterns of inheritance, and observations of the effects of the external environment on growth and development. The topic could have been the ear height on corn plants or one kid's affinity for math. My teenage summers were spent detasseling corn, a process that allows established seed lines to cross-pollinate and therefore create hybrid strains, which were then sold under my family's seed corn brand. I believe that this hands-on experience created a basic knowledge of inheritance patterns that is unusual in the current era of genetically modified organisms. (Bonus celebrity tie-in: Cindy Crawford is also a veteran corn detasseler!)

My dad died young - at age 49 - after falling ill from kidney disease, a condition unexplained by family genetics or recent viral infection. Because he was actively engaged in farming and was a member of the "better living through chemistry" generation, there is lingering doubt that agricultural chemicals contributed to his disease. What ultimately killed, him, though, was a hospital-acquired infection. His death, which may have been preventable, has served as a catalyst for my ongoing work in understanding the interplay of genetics, our environment, and our actions.

My background on the family farm proved invaluable as an adult. Having been raised with fresh foods prepared by people who knew how to cook, I knew it wasn't a coincidence that my grandparents, and many of my friends' grandparents who lived that lifestyle, lived into their 90s in relatively good health.  My understanding of cause and effect also transferred well to being a parent and a professional. But it wasn't until I observed young children behaving badly after eating wildly colored birthday treats that led me to examine what  those colors contained and what other impurities are introduced into our foods. Removing those artificial colors, flavorings, and preservatives from my family's diet improved my kids' behaviors, but also greatly reduced the frequency of my recurring headaches. It wasn't long before I made the connection between a gluten intolerance in one of my kids and his ill health, which then paved the way for the recognition that my husband's Grave's disease might be due to undiagnosed celiac disease. Once he removed gluten from his diet, my husband was able to eliminate all thyroid medications and to preserve his thyroid, which an endocrinologist at a nationally ranked teaching hospital had recommended irradiating. His thyroid levels have been normal and stable for almost a decade without medication. (And yes, all of my family members are under the care of physicians, so I am not practicing medicine without a license. Please.)

These experiences of seeing the dramatic effects produced by simple lifestyle changes caused me to became more and more interested in the upstream work of prevention. My work with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in HIV and AIDS helped solidify that interest, as did the growing requests from friends and family members for information on cancer treatments, autoimmune disease management, and healthier lifestyles. HealthTwisty is the outgrowth of that need.

In case you care about my qualifications: Most of my education is in the sciences. I hold two bachelor degrees - a Bachelor of Arts in physiology and a Bachelor of Science in design science, which is a hybrid of product design and engineering. I also earned a minor in chemistry, which allows me to be (barely) conversant in the molecular details of science and pharmacology. I spent two years in post-baccalaureate studies in graduate school, studying  physiology and microbiology, thinking I was headed to medical school. The process of being spending time in hospitals during my father's illness convinced me that I loved learning about science and medicine more than I would probably like doing it, a revelation that was confirmed during the two years I spent managing a research lab focusing on the immunology of prostate cancer. So I went back to school and earned a masters degree in communication, with emphasis in print journalism, a move that sent my life in a direction better suiting my skills and interests. Because education should never end, I have taken many, many continuing education classes, workshops, and seminars encompassing a range of interests, from South by Southwest's programs on social media and advocacy to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's conferences on science journalism, with refresher courses in statistics, outcomes management, and foreign languages along the way. My work has taken me around the globe and has provided its own invaluable education.

Throughout my career, I have written scores of publications targeted to lay and professional audiences, as well as those focused on educating the US Congress and international organizations regarding cancer, cancer research, HIV and AIDS, women's health, childhood nutrition, dengue fever, and other conditions. My articles have appeared in many publications, including the Atlanta Journal/Constitution, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Atlanta magazine, Science magazine, and many more. I have won awards for public relations campaigns related to cancer awareness, for radio programming, for development writing, and for journalism.

And finally, why I do this: HealthTwisty allows me to think through issues of the day that relate to health and present them in a manner that I hope will allow others to learn, be inspired, and receive benefit - all in order to begin changing the world, one page click at a time.


You can reach me at amyscimedcomm@gmail.com