Shraddha Chakradhar, ’11, discusses the adapting news cycle through current pandemic

MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University alumna Shraddha Chakradhar, ’11, is covering the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in her work at STAT.

Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, STAT is an online-only health, medicine and science news organization, and is a sister publication of The Boston Globe. Like many peer publications, STAT found itself in uncharted territory as the virus spread.

In her role as a reporter and writer for Morning Rounds — STAT’s flagship newsletter — Chakradhar has covered everything from rare diseases to heart transplants and much more.

Murray State University alumna Shraddha Chakradhar, ’11, is covering the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in her work at STAT News. (Photo credit: Ryuji Suzuki/beaupix.com)

As COVID-19 cases climbed and its impact began to take hold, Chakradhar and the news team adapted their coverage to keep the public informed.

“Since I write a daily newsletter that highlights the biggest medical news, covering COVID-19 came with the territory,” Chakradhar said. “At STAT, we initially only had a few of the reporters on the COVID-19 beat — our stellar infectious disease reporter Helen Branswell and some general assignment reporters. But, we’ve been all-hands-on-deck for a while now. Pretty much everyone at STAT is on the COVID-19 beat.

“The general assignment reporters are keeping up with the new developments on the crisis as well as contextualizing, explaining and analyzing new research as and when it becomes available. Many are also taking the long view to look at how things may pan out with the pandemic. Our biotech reporters are immersed in the pharma and startup angles, and our health tech reporters are keeping up with how Silicon Valley and other tech companies are getting in on the action. It’s really a team effort.”

Since its first COVID-19 story in January, STAT has published more than 600 stories about the pandemic. Chakradhar has also contributed to coverage, including a story on tracking the virus in Massachusetts wastewater samples along with social distancing and other preventative measures taken in India. Beyond COVID-19, Chakradhar has contributed to STAT’s extensive reporting on Purdue Pharma’s alleged involvement in the opioid crisis. STAT continues to offer in-depth reporting on all health and medicine news.

Chakradhar earned her liberal arts degree (English and chemistry concentrations) at Murray State in 2011 before going on to receive her master’s degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University.

“Of course Murray State is very special to me — it’s what brought me to Murray as a high schooler when my mom began teaching here, and where she still teaches — and it’s also where I met my husband,” Chakradhar said. “But I’ll always be grateful for the flexibility that being a liberal arts major offered me. I had a tough time committing to either the sciences or the humanities, but with this major, I didn’t have to. 

“I was also very fortunate to have supportive advisors in both areas who encouraged me to lean into my interests, especially as I began exploring science journalism as a career path. And I think it all worked out, because I’m still firmly planted at the intersection of the sciences and humanities!”

Rick Berke, the co-founder and executive editor of STAT, said Chakradhar plays a vital role in the organization. 

“Tens of thousands of readers everywhere wake up to Shraddha’s newsletter,” Berke said, “and they’ve come to count on her authoritative and thoughtful take on what’s important that day in health, medicine and science.”

You can find Chakradhar’s most recent work at statnews.com/staff/shraddha-chakradhar.

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