Donna Jackson Nakazawa is an award-winning science journalist interested in exploring the intersection between neuroscience, immunology, and the deepest inner workings of the human heart. Her mission as a journalist is to weave together insights from lived, human experience with cutting edge science, and to translate these findings in ways that help readers find hope and healing.
In Nakazawa’s most recent book, Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology and How You Can Heal (Simon & Schuster/Atria 2015, 2016), Nakazawa shines a light on how the emotional trauma we suffer as children not only shapes our emotional lives as adults, it also affects our adult physical health, longevity, and overall wellbeing. Scientists now know on a bio-chemical level exactly how early, chronic stressors can leave permanent, physical “fingerprints” on our brains, and lead to life-altering adult illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, and depression. Nakazawa also shows why some children are more immune to stress than others, explains why women are at particular risk, and explains how individuals can reset their biology—and help themselves and their loved ones find ways to heal.
Donna is currently at work on her sixth book, The Angel and the Assassin: The Tiny Cell That Changed the Course of Medicine, and Gives us a Radically New Way of Looking at Human Well-Being, to be published by Ballantine Books /Random House in 2019. In this book, she looks at groundbreaking, recent scientific discoveries at top labs showing the link between brain-immune interactions and brain-based diseases. She unveils how and why symptoms of depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, memory issues, and Alzheimer’s emerge when brain immune cells – called microglia – become agitated and overactive, and destroy synapses, causing neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. This discovery – and the new understanding of the brain as a unique immune organ, ruled by immune cells — is one of the most exciting and important discoveries in the history of science, and is leading to exciting new avenues for treating seemingly intractable life-altering disorders.
Donna’s other books include The Last Best Cure (Penguin/Hudson Street Press, 2013), which examines the science behind a variety of brain-body therapies, and The Autoimmune Epidemic (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone 2009), which investigates the causes of a growing environmental health crisis. Donna’s books have been translated around the world, including in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, German, Russian and Hebrew.
In addition to her work as a science journalist, Donna lectures nationwide and has keynoted numerous events, including the 2017 Learning & The Brain Conference; the 2016 Johns Hopkins Conference on Trauma Informed Healing; the 2012 International Congress on Autoimmunity; the Johns Hopkins Women’s Health Conference, “A Woman’s Journey”; and the To Your Health Lecture Series, at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. She has moderated panels for national health symposiums, including the American Association of Autoimmune Related Diseases (AARD) 2010 Summit, and lectures at medical schools and hospitals nationwide.
Donna has appeared on The Today Show, National Public Radio, and ABC News. Her work has been highlighted on the cover of Parade, as well as in Time, USA Today Weekend, and Parenting. She’s written for The Washington Post, More, Glamour, Ladies Home Journal, and AARP Magazine and blogs for Psychology Today and HuffPost.
She is the recipient of the 2012 Lifetime achievement award from the International Congress on Autoimmunity, presented by a group of international scientists to those who have made a lifetime contribution in the field of autoimmunity and human health. Donna was a finalist for the 2016 national Books for a Better Life Award; and received the 2010 National Health Information Award, which strives to recognize the nation’s best magazine articles in health.
Donna has completed writing-in-residence fellowships at the Corporation of Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Public Policy from Duke University and is a graduate of the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Program.
She lives with her husband, two children, and two dogs in Stevenson, Maryland.