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Cohen attended Columbia College, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in history. She went on to earn a master's degree in public health from Boston University. She has received outstanding alumna awards from both colleges.
Cohen worked at WLVI in Boston as associate producer of environmental program Green Watch. She also worked as a reporter for States News Service in Washington, DC and for The Times Union in Albany, New York.
Cohen joined CNN in 1991. She focuses on health-related issues and has reported from a medical angle on major news stories like the Gulf oil spill, the 2010 Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Katrina. She is currently senior medical correspondent for CNN's Health, Medical and Wellness unit.
Cohen won a Hearst Award during her time at The Times Union. She won a Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and a National Headliner Award for the feature “A Lesson Before Dying” in 2006. She was honored by the Newswomen's Club of New York, the New York Association of Black Journalists for the feature African-Americans and Bone Marrow Transplants and the Mental Health America Media Awards in 2007 for her reporting work. She won a Gracie Award in 2008 for the feature "Where’s Molly?".
She published a book titled The Empowered Patient in 2010.