Bio


Seema Yasmin is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, poet, medical doctor and author. Yasmin served as an officer in the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where she investigated disease outbreaks and was principal investigator on a number of CDC studies. Yasmin trained in journalism at the University of Toronto and in medicine at the University of Cambridge.

Yasmin was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news in 2017 with a team from The Dallas Morning News and recipient of an Emmy for her reporting on neglected diseases. She received two grants from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. In 2017, Yasmin was a John S. Knight Fellow in Journalism at Stanford University investigating the spread of health misinformation and disinformation during epidemics. Previously she was a science correspondent at The Dallas Morning News, medical analyst for CNN, and professor of public health at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Her writing has earned awards and residencies from the Mid Atlantic Arts Council, Hedgebrook, the Millay Colony for the Arts and others. Her first book, The Impatient Dr. Lange (Johns Hopkins University Press, July 2018) is the biography of an AIDS doctor killed on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Her second book, Debunked! Pseudoscience, Medical Myths and Why They Persist, is forthcoming in November 2019. A major title about women is forthcoming from HarperCollins in 2020.

Yasmin’s unique expertise in medicine, epidemics and journalism has been called upon by The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, the Aspen Institute, Skoll Foundation and others.

Academic Appointments


Honors & Awards


  • Mayborn Award for Literary Non-Fiction, Mayborn School of Journalism, University of North Texas. (2015)
  • Mayborn Award for Literary Non-Fiction, Mayborn School of Journalism, University of North Texas (2016)
  • Westfield Trust Prize for Academic Excellence, Queen Mary University of London (2005)
  • Unit Commendation, United States Public Health Service (2014)
  • Public Health Award for Media Excellence in Print Media, Texas Public Health Association (2015)
  • National Health Journalism Fellowship Award, Center for Health Journalism, University of Southern California (2015)
  • John P. McGovern Award in Health Promotion, University of Texas at Austin (2016)
  • Physician Excellence in Reporting, Texas Medical Association (2016)
  • Finalist, Pulitzer Prize (2017)
  • Reporting award, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting (2015)
  • Reporting award, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting (2017)
  • Emmy, National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (2016)

Professional Education


  • MD, University of Cambridge
  • Journalism, University of Toronto
  • Biochemistry, Queen Mary University of London

2018-19 Courses


All Publications


  • Use of an online survey during an outbreak of clostridium perfringens in a retirement community-Arizona, 2012. Journal of public health management and practice : JPHMP Yasmin, S., Pogreba-Brown, K., Stewart, J., Sunenshine, R. ; 20 (2): 205–9

    Abstract

    An outbreak of gastrointestinal (GI) illness among retirement community residents was reported to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. Online surveys can be useful for rapid investigation of disease outbreaks, especially when local health departments lack time and resources to perform telephone interviews. Online survey utility among older populations, which may lack computer access or literacy, has not been defined.To investigate and implement prevention measures for a GI outbreak and assess the utility of an online survey among retirement community residents.A retrospective cohort investigation was conducted using an online survey distributed through the retirement community e-mail listserv; a follow-up telephone survey was conducted to assess computer literacy and Internet access. A case was defined as any GI illness occurring among residents during March 1-14, 2012.A barbecue in a retirement community of 3000 residents.Retirement community residents.Residents were directed to discard leftover food and seek health care for symptoms. A telephone survey was conducted to assess the utility of online surveys in this population.Computer literacy and Internet access of retirement community residents.Of 1000 residents on the listserv, 370 (37%) completed the online survey (mean age, 69.7 years; 60.6% women); 66 residents (17.8%) reported a GI illness after the barbecue, 63 (95.5%) reported diarrhea, and 5 (7.6%) reported vomiting. Leftover beef from an attendee's refrigerator grew Clostridium perfringens. Of 552 residents contacted by telephone, 113 completed the telephone survey (mean age, 71.3 years; 63.3% women), 101 (89.4%) reported the ability to send e-mail, 82 (81.2%) checked e-mail daily, and 28 (27.7%) checked e-mail on a handheld device. The attack rate was 17.8% for online versus 2.7% for telephone respondents (P < .001).This outbreak demonstrated the utility of an online survey to rapidly collect information and implement prevention measures among an older demographic.

    View details for DOI 10.1097/PHH.0b013e31829a2cf5

    View details for PubMedID 23760307

  • The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 3: Halal If You Hear Me Yasmin, S. Haymarket. 2019
  • Ebola's Second Coming. Scientific American Yasmin, S. 2016; 315 (1): 40–45

    View details for DOI 10.1038/scientificamerican0716-40

    View details for PubMedID 27348378

  • Outbreak of Botulism After Consumption of Illicit Prison-Brewed Alcohol in a Maximum Security Prison--Arizona, 2012. Journal of correctional health care : the official journal of the National Commission on Correctional Health Care Yasmin, S., Adams, L., Briggs, G., Weiss, J., Bisgard, K., Anderson, S., Tsang, C., Henke, E., Vasiq, M., Komatsu, K. 2015; 21 (4): 327–34

    Abstract

    The authors investigated the second botulism outbreak to occur in a maximum security prison in Arizona within a 4-month period. Botulism was confirmed in eight men aged 20 to 35 years who reported sharing a single batch of pruno made with potatoes. Initial symptoms included blurred vision, slurred speech, muscle weakness, ptosis, and dysphagia. All patients received heptavalent botulinum antitoxin, seven required mechanical ventilation, and all survived. The median incubation period was 29 hours. Sera from all patients and leftover pruno tested positive for botulinum toxin type A. Botulism should be considered among prisoners with cranial nerve palsies and descending, symmetric flaccid paralysis. Prison-brewed alcohol, particularly when made with potatoes, can be a vehicle for botulism and is associated with outbreaks of botulism in prisons.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/1078345815604752

    View details for PubMedID 26377381

  • Community-acquired invasive GAS disease among Native Americans, Arizona, USA, Winter 2013. Emerging infectious diseases Harris, A. M., Yazzie, D., Antone-Nez, R., Dinè-Chacon, G., Kinlacheeny, J. B., Foley, D., Yasmin, S., Adams, L., Livar, E., Terranella, A., Yeager, L., Komatsu, K., Van Beneden, C., Langley, G. 2015; 21 (1): 177–79

    View details for DOI 10.3201/eid2101.141148

    View details for PubMedID 25531562

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4285242

  • Risk factors for fatal outcome from rocky mountain spotted Fever in a highly endemic area-Arizona, 2002-2011. Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America Regan, J. J., Traeger, M. S., Humpherys, D., Mahoney, D. L., Martinez, M., Emerson, G. L., Tack, D. M., Geissler, A., Yasmin, S., Lawson, R., Williams, V., Hamilton, C., Levy, C., Komatsu, K., Yost, D. A., McQuiston, J. H. 2015; 60 (11): 1659–66

    Abstract

    Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a disease that now causes significant morbidity and mortality on several American Indian reservations in Arizona. Although the disease is treatable, reported RMSF case fatality rates from this region are high (7%) compared to the rest of the nation (<1%), suggesting a need to identify clinical points for intervention.The first 205 cases from this region were reviewed and fatal RMSF cases were compared to nonfatal cases to determine clinical risk factors for fatal outcome.Doxycycline was initiated significantly later in fatal cases (median, day 7) than nonfatal cases (median, day 3), although both groups of case patients presented for care early (median, day 2). Multiple factors increased the risk of doxycycline delay and fatal outcome, such as early symptoms of nausea and diarrhea, history of alcoholism or chronic lung disease, and abnormal laboratory results such as elevated liver aminotransferases. Rash, history of tick bite, thrombocytopenia, and hyponatremia were often absent at initial presentation.Earlier treatment with doxycycline can decrease morbidity and mortality from RMSF in this region. Recognition of risk factors associated with doxycycline delay and fatal outcome, such as early gastrointestinal symptoms and a history of alcoholism or chronic lung disease, may be useful in guiding early treatment decisions. Healthcare providers should have a low threshold for initiating doxycycline whenever treating febrile or potentially septic patients from tribal lands in Arizona, even if an alternative diagnosis seems more likely and classic findings of RMSF are absent.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/cid/civ116

    View details for PubMedID 25697742

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4706357

  • Rocky mountain spotted fever characterization and comparison to similar illnesses in a highly endemic area-Arizona, 2002-2011. Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America Traeger, M. S., Regan, J. J., Humpherys, D., Mahoney, D. L., Martinez, M., Emerson, G. L., Tack, D. M., Geissler, A., Yasmin, S., Lawson, R., Hamilton, C., Williams, V., Levy, C., Komatsu, K., McQuiston, J. H., Yost, D. A. 2015; 60 (11): 1650–58

    Abstract

    Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) has emerged as a significant cause of morbidity and mortality since 2002 on tribal lands in Arizona. The explosive nature of this outbreak and the recognition of an unexpected tick vector, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, prompted an investigation to characterize RMSF in this unique setting and compare RMSF cases to similar illnesses.We compared medical records of 205 patients with RMSF and 175 with non-RMSF illnesses that prompted RMSF testing during 2002-2011 from 2 Indian reservations in Arizona.RMSF cases in Arizona occurred year-round and peaked later (July-September) than RMSF cases reported from other US regions. Cases were younger (median age, 11 years) and reported fever and rash less frequently, compared to cases from other US regions. Fever was present in 81% of cases but not significantly different from that in patients with non-RMSF illnesses. Classic laboratory abnormalities such as low sodium and platelet counts had small and subtle differences between cases and patients with non-RMSF illnesses. Imaging studies reflected the variability and complexity of the illness but proved unhelpful in clarifying the early diagnosis.RMSF epidemiology in this region appears different than RMSF elsewhere in the United States. No specific pattern of signs, symptoms, or laboratory findings occurred with enough frequency to consistently differentiate RMSF from other illnesses. Due to the nonspecific and variable nature of RMSF presentations, clinicians in this region should aggressively treat febrile illnesses and sepsis with doxycycline for suspected RMSF.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/cid/civ115

    View details for PubMedID 25697743

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4699465

  • Alcohol Production, Prevention Strategies, and Inmate Knowledge About the Risk for Botulism From Pruno Consumption in a Correctional Facility--Arizona, 2013. Journal of correctional health care : the official journal of the National Commission on Correctional Health Care Adams, L. E., Yasmin, S., Briggs, G., Redden, K., Silvas, S., Anderson, S., Weiss, J., Tsang, C. A., Henke, E., Francies, J., Herrick, K., Lira, R., Livar, E., Thompson, G., Sunenshine, R., Robinson, B. F., Bisgard, K. M., Komatsu, K. K. 2015; 21 (4): 335–42

    Abstract

    During July to November 2012, two botulism outbreaks (12 cases total) occurred in one all-male prison; both were associated with illicitly brewed alcohol (pruno) consumption. Inmate surveys were conducted to evaluate and develop prevention and education strategies. Qualitative surveys with open-ended questions were performed among inmates from rooms where outbreaks occurred to learn about pruno consumption. Quantitative surveys assessed knowledge gained after the outbreaks and preferred information sources. For the quantitative surveys, 250 inmates were randomly selected by bed from across the correctional facility and 164 inmates were interviewed. Only 24% of inmates reported any botulism knowledge before the outbreaks and education outreach, whereas 73% reported knowledge after the outbreaks (p < .01). Preferred information sources included handouts/fliers (52%) and the prison television channel (32%).

    View details for DOI 10.1177/1078345815599763

    View details for PubMedID 26285594

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5549268

  • Healthcare-Associated Pertussis Outbreak in Arizona: Challenges and Economic Impact, 2011. Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society Yasmin, S., Sunenshine, R., Bisgard, K. M., Wiedeman, C., Carrigan, A., Sylvester, T., Garcia, G., Rose, K., Wright, S., Miller, S., Huerta, R. D., Houser, H., D'Souza, A., Anderson, S., Howard, K., Komatsu, K., Klein, R. 2014; 3 (1): 81–84

    Abstract

    An outbreak investigation identified 15 pertussis cases among 5 infants and 10 healthcare professionals at 1 hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The cost of the outbreak to this hospital was $97 745. Heightened awareness of pertussis in NICUs is key to preventing healthcare-associated spread and minimizing outbreak-control-related costs. Bordetella pertussis is a highly communicable bacterial pathogen that causes a prolonged cough illness and is spread by respiratory droplet transmission. Infants aged ≤6 months are most susceptible to B pertussis infection and pertussis-associated complications, including pneumonia, encephalopathy, and death, and are commonly hospitalized for treatment [ 1]. Despite a universal pertussis vaccination program, 27 550 pertussis cases were reported in the United States during 2010 [ 2]. Pertussis outbreaks in healthcare settings can be challenging and costly to control [3]. On September 13, 2011 and September 15, 2011, 3 pertussis cases, including 2 confirmed by B pertussis isolation, among preterm infants discharged ≤30 days previously from a 71-bed NICU of a general hospital (NICU A) were reported by Hospital B, a large pediatric facility, to Maricopa County Department of Public Health. This report describes the outbreak, examines outbreak-associated costs and risk factors that might have contributed to healthcare-associated transmission, and provides guidance to prevent outbreaks in healthcare settings.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/jpids/pis136

    View details for PubMedID 26624909

  • Chryseobacterium indologenes in a woman with metastatic breast cancer in the United States of America: a case report. Journal of medical case reports Yasmin, S., Garcia, G., Sylvester, T., Sunenshine, R. 2013; 7: 190

    Abstract

    We report the seventh case of Chryseobacterium indologenes occurring in the United States of America. C. indologenes is seldom isolated from clinical specimens but has caused hospital-acquired infections in Taiwan and rarely elsewhere.A 32-year-old Caucasian woman with metastatic breast cancer presented to a hospital emergency department with bilateral radiation-induced pleural effusions and respiratory failure. The patient was hospitalized and ventilated for 26 days; tracheal aspirates collected on ventilation days 24 and 26 grew C. indologenes. The patient subsequently died as a result of worsening ventilator-associated pneumonia and stage IV breast cancer.C. indologenes infection should be considered for hospitalized patients with a history of malignancy, especially those with indwelling devices and antibiotic use for >14 days.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/1752-1947-7-190

    View details for PubMedID 23890272

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3750371

  • Female sex workers in Africa: epidemiology overview, data gaps, ways forward. SAHARA J : journal of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS Research Alliance Ngugi, E. N., Roth, E., Mastin, T., Nderitu, M. G., Yasmin, S. 2012; 9 (3): 148–53

    View details for DOI 10.1080/17290376.2012.743825

    View details for PubMedID 23237069

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4560463

  • Human papillomavirus vaccination programs and human immunodeficiency virus epidemics. Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America Yasmin, S., Gerberry, D. J., Blower, S. 2011; 53 (8): 845–46

    View details for DOI 10.1093/cid/cir514

    View details for PubMedID 21921228