ProPublica announced on Tuesday the addition of reporter Sharon Lerner, who will work with both the global public health team and the national staff.
Lerner comes to ProPublica from The Intercept, where she has worked for the last seven years as an investigative reporter. Her best known stories there covered a range of environmental health issues, including an exposé on how the manufacturers of PFAS — a family of chemicals linked to cancer, infertility, developmental harm and immune dysfunction — covered up the danger for decades as these toxic chemicals seeped into the environment, entering the bodies of humans and animals. When the chemical industry touted alternatives it said were safer, Lerner launched another series that showed those, too, were harmful.
Lerner’s years of relentless coverage on the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to protect the public from industrial pollutants led to regulatory reforms. With a colleague at The Intercept, she also revealed that the National Institutes of Health allowed a U.S. nonprofit to police its own controversial research on bat coronaviruses in China, and she explained how the price Merck was charging the U.S. government for COVID-19-treatment pills was 40 times what they cost to make, even though this antiviral medicine was developed with federal funds.
With a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University, and an early career job in AIDS policy at the Gay Men's Health Crisis in the early 1990s, Lerner is uniquely trained to see stories through a public health lens. She will start Sept. 12.