Dana G Smith, PhD

Science communication


I write about the fascinating, bizarre, and exciting science that comes fresh out of the lab every day. 

As a freelance science writer, I focus on stories relating to health and science—the weirder the better—with a special interest in the brain. My work has been featured in The Atlantic, The Guardian, Fast Company, Scientific American: Mind, Discover, and Pacific Standard. I also help universities and research organizations tell their stories of scientific discovery, the realities of lab life, and the personalities who make the magic happen.

Previously, I worked as the communications and media relations specialist at the Gladstone Institutes, translating and promoting basic life science research to the public. I wrote about advances made towards finding cures for major unsolved diseases of the brain, the heart, and the immune system, and I placed these discoveries in major media outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Time, Forbes, NPR, ABC News, and Fox News.

Before transitioning to a career in science communication, I was a research scientist and completed a PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Cambridge. There, I studied impulse control disorders, such as drug addiction and binge eating disorder, using cognitive testing and functional neuroimaging.

Press Releases

Single Protein May Hold Secret to Treating Parkinson’s Disease and More

One Gene Mutation, Two Diseases, Many Insights into Human Heart Function

Women at Greater Risk for Zika Infection Due to Suppressed Vaginal Immune Response

Scientists Create Heart Cells Better, Faster, Stronger

How to Engineer a Stronger Immune System

Ancient Anti-Inflammatory Drug Has Cancer-Fighting Properties

Scientists Turn Skin Cells into Heart Cells and Brain Cells Using Drugs

Scientists Discover a Missing Link between Tau and Memory Loss

Modified Form of CRISPR Acts as a Toggle Switch to Control Gene Expression in Stem Cells

New Method for Producing Heart Cells May Hold the Key to Treating Heart Failure

Treating Parkinson's Disease by Solving the Mysteries of Movement

Insulin-Producing Pancreatic Cells Created from Human Skin Cells

DNA Repair Protein BRCA1 Implicated in Cognitive Function and Dementia

Blood Clotting Protein Triggers Immune Attack on the Brain

100 Years to Find a Cure: Can the Process Be Accelerated?

Old Drug Offers New Hope to Treat Alzheimer's Disease

HIV Particles Do Not Cause AIDS, Our Own Immune Cells Do

Scientists Regenerate Bone Tissue Using Only Proteins Secreted by Stem Cells

Gladstone Scientists Discover Potential New Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

Preventing Heart Cells from Turning to Bone

Mapping the Gut Microbiome to Better Understand Its Role in Obesity

HIV Latency Is Not an Accident: It Is a Survival Tactic Employed by the Virus

Protein Linked to Longevity and Enhanced Cognition Also Protects Against Alzheimer’s Symptoms

Support Cells in the Brain Offer a New Strategy to Boost Memory

Using Viruses to Find the Cellular Achilles Heel

Vitamin Supplement Successfully Prevents Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Changes in the Eye Can Predict Changes in the Brain

Academic Publications

Using a drug-word Stroop task to differentiate recreational from dependent drug use

DG Smith, KD Ersche - CNS Spectrums, 2014

Aberrant disgust responses and immune reactivity in cocaine-dependent men 

KD Ersche, CC Hagan, DG Smith, S Abbott, PS Jones, AM Apergis-Schoute, R Döffinger - Biological Psychiatry, 2014

Overlapping decline in orbitofrontal gray matter volume related to cocaine use and body mass index

DG Smith, PS Jones, GB Williams, ET Bullmore, TW Robbins, KD Ersche - Addiction Biology, 2014

Enhanced orbitofrontal cortex activation and lack of attentional bias to cocaine cues in recreational stimulant users

DG Smith, PS Jones, ET Bullmore, TW Robbins, KD Ersche - Biological Psychiatry, 2014

Cognitive control dysfunction and abnormal frontal cortex activation in stimulant dependent individuals and their biological siblings

DG Smith, PS Jones, ET Bullmore, TW Robbins, KD Ersche - Translational Psychiatry, 2013

The neurobiological underpinnings of obesity and binge eating: A rationale for adopting the food addiction model

DG Smith and TW Robbins - Biological Psychiatry, 2013

Distinctive personality traits and neural correlates associated with stimulant drug use versus familial risk of stimulant dependence

KD Ersche, PS Jones, GB Williams, DG Smith, ET Bullmore, TW Robbins - Biological Psychiatry, 2013

Neurocognitive endophenotypes of impulsivity and compulsivity: towards dimensional psychiatry

TW Robbins, CM Gillan, DG Smith, S de Wit, KD Ersche - Trends in Cognitive Science, 2012

Decision-making in children and adolescents: Impaired Iowa Gambling Task performance in early adolescence

DG Smith, L Xiao, A Bechara - Developmental Psychology, 2012