Laurie Garrett hadn't interrupted her science career to pursue journalism, she probably would have been a professor at a top-rate university doing AIDS research in her lab, says Lee Herzenberg, geneticist at Stanford University and a longtime mentor for Garrett.
Garrett had advanced to a doctoral candidacy in immunology at University of California at Berkeley before deciding that "journalism would be more fun and interesting." She learned the craft at a California radio station, eventually joining National Public Radio as a science correspondent. After eight years at NPR, she joined Newsday in 1986. It was an unusual hiring for Newsday; Garrett had no newspaper experience.
But Garrett, whose flamboyant personality matches her spirit of adventure, already was experienced at traveling the world reporting on new diseases, especially the emergence of AIDS in East Africa. For Newsday, she returned to Africa for further reporting on AIDS and to India where she wrote about a plague outbreak. During the Persian Gulf war, when Jordan's borders were closed, Garrett managed to get in from Israel with a Paris-based doctors' group to report on refugees. She also toted back a bag of Saddam Hussein souvenir watches and SCUD missile earrings for her colleagues. In 10 years, her accordion-like passport has 45 visa stamps from different nations.
Her book, The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance was a paperback best-seller in 1995. The Brooklyn resident is currently president of the National Association of Science Writers. When away from science and writing, Garrett enjoys rock and roll music and the visual arts, especially the avant garde. She is also part-owner of a boutique winery, Havens, in California's Napa Valley.