Jeanene Swanson

Science Journalist, Writer & Editor

Tampa Bay, FL

Jeanene Swanson

I am a science journalist who specializes in mental health and addiction. As a science writer with a background in biotechnology, I enjoy turning complex subjects into stories that everyone can understand—and apply to their lives.


The immune system, microglia, and the brain

The immune system is, in a word, a wonderful thing. When activated, the innate immune system produces all sort of molecules that can engulf pathogens (macrophages), tag infectious molecules for destruction (antibodies), and signal cells to become responsive (cytokines).
The Scientist Link to Story

Microbes, mood, and mental health

Studies borne out of the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) have begun to tease out the role the human gut microbiome plays in the development of a host of diseases, including mental health disorders like anxiety and depression, autism spectrum disorders, and schizophrenia.
The Scientist Link to Story

Personalized Medicine Is Coming to Addiction Treatment

Most drugs have a significant rate of failure. In the pharmaceutical industry, it is widely understood that some 90% of all medicines work adequately in only 30% to 50% of patients. This results in staggering waste in the quality of care for individuals and and costs to the healthcare system. But for people with addiction, the problem is especially acute because there are so few effective drugs available. In addition, the drugs likely have subpar effectiveness, working in a smaller than average percentage of people and with only modest effects. Link to Story

Experimental Addiction Treatments in the Pipeline

New treatments for addiction are urgently needed. Substance use disorders are a chronic and serious health problem for many people, while relapse rates—even with current medications—are 60 to 80 percent at the end of the first year after attempting to get sober. This situation is in part due to the enduring stigma associated with addiction, even among doctors and researchers at universities and in pharmaceutical companies. But anti-“addict” prejudice is not the highest hurdle. The immense complexity of the brain (and its functions and dysfunctions) has kept neuroscience in almost a perpetual state of infancy. Link to Story

Cut the Stigma

Disease comes with stigma, there’s no denying that. In the 1950s, if you got “The Cancer,” you told no one outside your immediate family. HIV has lost some of its stigma since the 1980s—thanks to tireless advocacy work on behalf of those most affected by it. However, in Africa, it still carries burden. Ebola in West Africa has brought out some of the worst ,and best, in people. So, it’s not surprising that today mental health disorders, including addiction, carry stigma before, during, and after recovery.
The Fix Link to Story

Ten Studies That Shook the Addiction World

Over the past decade, addiction has come out of the shadows and into popular culture as never before. This is a time when the very definition of addiction is hotly contested, and we appear to be a tipping point where the “spiritual” framing of addiction is fast yielding to the “scientific” one. Some of us wonder what has taken so long.
AlterNet Link to Story

Mindfulness Meditation In Addiction Treatment

Mindfulness meditation, when done properly, can significantly improve addiction treatment outcomes. Link to Story

Boozy Genes—The Making of an Alcoholic?

Alcoholism has long been known to run in families. In fact, based on previous twin studies, more than 50% of the overall risk can be attributed to inheritance. This suggests that genetics plays a role. But, how?
The Fix Link to Story

Erasing Your Traumas

There are, undoubtedly, many memories that addicts would love to forget. For most recovering addicts and alcoholics, encountering the so-called “people, places, and things” that remind them of using bring on the strongest cravings. Research has shown that repeated exposure to these cues—and then not getting to use—may temporarily ease cravings, but the association returns over time.
The Fix Link to Story

How to Isolate and Treat Protracted Withdrawal Symptoms

No one said recovery would be easy. And for the majority of addicts and alcoholics, detox is just the beginning. While addiction specialists may know about post-acute withdrawal syndrome (protracted withdrawal syndrome), or PAWS, many addicts and much of the public do not. Understanding the lingering effects of substance abuse can go a long way toward educating addicts about relapse prevention and maybe most importantly, giving them hope that this, too, shall pass.
The Huffington Post Link to Story

A Shot against Breast Cancer

A recently conducted study in mice may someday help doctors develop new treatments for breast cancer. The results, which were published in Science Translational Medicine earlier this month, suggest that it may be possible to stop some abnormal growths from going on to becoming potentially life-threatening tumors.
Scientific American Link to Story

Unraveling the Mystery of How Antidepression Drugs Work

Depression strikes some 35 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, contributing to lowered quality of life as well as an increased risk of heart disease and suicide. Treatments typically include psychotherapy, support groups and education as well as psychiatric medications. SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, currently are the most commonly prescribed category of antidepressant drugs in the U.S., and have become a household name in treating depression.


Jeanene Swanson

I am a science journalist, writer, and editor. As a science journalist, I have written for both consumer science and scientific trade publications. As a science writer, I have worked on technical publications for a wide range of organizations, including biotechnology and scientific publishing companies.

I earned my BA in biology from Northwestern University in Chicago and my MS in journalism from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

I am open to a variety of science writing projects. As a science journalist, I can pitch or take assignments. As a science writer, I can tackle marketing and technical communications projects, including technical guides, application notes, brochures, and web site copy. Please email me for samples.


Consumer science publications

Scientific American
Scientific American - eBooks
The Fix
Elements Behavioral Health:
Study Finds Spike in Opioid Use During Pregnancy
Addiction Recovery in the Latino Community
Addiction, Happiness, and Retraining the Brain

Syndicated on:
The Huffington Post:
How to Isolate and Treat Protracted Withdrawal Symptoms, The Fix
Substance Abuse Issues and Mental Disorders, The Fix
Erasing Your Traumas, The Fix

Trade magazines

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News
FierceBiotech (email me for samples)
Genome Technology (email me for samples)