Drugwatch’s senior writer Michelle Llamas has joined the National Center for Health Research’s PCORI COVID-19 Press Teleconference Advisory Board.

The National Center for Health Research is a nonprofit think tank that conducts, analyzes and explains the latest research to help people improve their health and develop better health policies, programs and services.

Funding for the COVID-19 Press Teleconference is provided by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), a nonprofit authorized by Congress to fund comparative clinical effectiveness research.

As an Advisory Board member, Llamas will work with other board members, including nationally respected health care experts, award-winning health journalists and patient advocates to help plan research topics for COVID-19 press teleconferences.

When the pandemic started, NCHR President Diana Zuckerman received calls from reporters across the country asking about research, clinical trials and real world evidence. She came up with the free teleconference to help journalists and medical writers understand and report on COVID-19 science.

“Some of the reporters told me that they had previously focused on educational or science news stories, in some cases at major media outlets, but had not written about health care or medicine. They explained that they had been moved to the COVID beat because most of the news was focused on COVID … The monthly teleconferences seemed like a great way to educate journalists,” Zuckerman told Drugwatch.

Each teleconference features nationally renowned health experts who break down current COVID-19 research topics, and attendees are given the opportunity to ask questions.

Past teleconference topics included:

  • Accuracy of coronavirus tests in the U.S.
  • Children and coronavirus transmission
  • COVID-19 immunity and herd immunity
  • Risks and benefits of COVID-19 vaccines
  • Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine data and the emergency use authorization process

Journalists or medical writers interested in signing up for the free monthly press teleconferences can contact Nina Zeldes at the National Center for Health Research at nz@center4research.org.