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Bipolar Disorder - ANK3 and CACNA1C genes


Public Press

Source: (Permission pending)


In 2004, Kua et al. published an article examining the reporting of scientific news, specifically genomics-related news, in the public press. As genomics is a hot topic in today’s society, with new controversial, universally relevant, and ethically confusing information being published constantly, it is becoming increasingly important for the media to be able to relay scientific findings to the general public. The article stresses the need for context and method in science journalism (2). It also points out that rather than differing in how the information is written, which was expected, the scientific public press articles examined differed in what information was written (2). 

John Durant, a professor of the public understanding of science, explained three levels of understanding: the facts of science, the research methods of science, and the sociology of science (2). Ideally, all three levels would be conveyed and understood. In reality however, certain problems get in the way. I have examined the 2008 New York Times article (7) that reports the findings of Ferreira et al.:

Lack of information and of context:

Problems conveying information and context: lack of methodological information, lack of reasoning that supports or questions the findings

Limitations of translation: limitations on space and reader interest, lack of translation in language and in idiom, how to eliminate jargon

Overall, the article addresses the facts of science well, does not address the research methods of science well, and only addresses the sociology of science through subtle implications in the various quotes of criticism. The author communicated quite a bit for the limited space and reader interest, but perhaps these limitations were overestimated.



1. Ferreira MAR, O’Donovan MC, Meng YA, Jones IR, Ruderfer DM, Jones L, Fan J, Kirov G, Perlis RH, Green EK, et al. Collaborative genome-wide association analysis supports a role for ANK3 and CACNA1C in bipolar disorder. PubMed [Internet]. 2009 Jun 30 [cited 2011 Jan 23]; [1056-1058]. Available from:

2. Kua E, Reder M, Grossel MJ. 2004. "Science in the News: A Study of Reporting Genomics." Public Understanding of Science. 13: 309–322.

3. National Center for Biotechnology Information. ANK3 ankyrin 3, node of Ranvier (ankyrin G) [Homo sapiens]. Genes and mapped phenotypes [Internet]. 2011 Jan 11 [cited 2011 Jan 30]. Available from:

4. National Center for Biotechnology Information. CACNA1C calcium channel, voltage-dependent, L type, alpha 1C subunit [Homo sapiens]. Genes and mapped phenotypes [Internet]. 2011 Jan 11 [cited 2011 Jan 30]. Available from:

5. National Institute of Mental Health. [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): Bipolar Disorder; [modified 2010 Aug 31; cited 2011 Jan 23]. Available from:

6. UniProtKB. Ankyrin-3-Homo sapiens (Human) [Internet]. [modified 2011 Jan 11; cited 2011 Jan 23]. Available from:

7. Wade N. Gene hunt hints at cause of Bipolar Disorder. The New York Times [Internet]. 2008 Aug 18 [cited 2011 Jan 23]; [1]. Available from:



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