Rob Stein

Rob Stein is a correspondent and senior editor on NPR's science desk.

An award-winning science journalist with more than 25 years of experience, Stein mostly covers health and medicine. He tends to focus on stories that illustrate the intersection of science, health, politics, social trends, ethics, and federal science policy. He tracks genetics, stem cells, cancer research, women's health issues and other science, medical, and health policy news.

Before NPR, Stein worked at The Washington Post for 16 years, first as the newspaper's science editor and then as a national health reporter. Earlier in his career, Stein spent about four years as an editor at NPR's science desk. Before that, he was a science reporter for United Press International (UPI) in Boston and the science editor of the international wire service in Washington.

Stein is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He completed a journalism fellowship at the Harvard School of Public Health, a program in science and religion at the University of Cambridge, and a summer science writer's workshop at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass.

Stein's work has been honored by many organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association of Health Care Journalists.

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11:07am

Thu December 4, 2014
Shots - Health News

CDC Warns That The Flu Season May Be A Bad One

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 6:21 pm

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, got his flu shot in September.
J. David Ake AP

We may be in for a nasty flu season. That's the warning out today from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC is worried because the most common strain of flu virus circulating in the United States is one called H3N2. In previous years, H3N2 strains have tended to send more people to the hospital than other strains — and cause more deaths, especially among the elderly, children and people with other health problems.

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5:14pm

Tue December 2, 2014
Shots - Health News

FDA Considers Allowing Blood Donations From Some Gay Men

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 10:50 am

Several countries, including Australia, Japan and Great Britain, already encourage blood donations from some gay men.
Kevin Curtis Getty Images/Science Photo Library

The Food and Drug Administration is considering revising a ban on blood donations from men who have had sex with other men.

An FDA advisory committee Tuesday mulled the issues raised by changing the policy, which has been in effect since the early 1980s.

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12:16pm

Tue November 25, 2014
Shots - Health News

Treatment For HIV Runs Low In U.S., Despite Diagnosis

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 11:35 am

A pharmacist pours Truvada pills, an HIV treatment, back into the bottle at Jack's Pharmacy in San Anselmo, Calif.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

About two-thirds of Americans who are infected with the virus that causes AIDS aren't getting treated for it.

The finding comes from an analysis just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that more needs to be done to make sure people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus get proper treatment.

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2:03am

Mon November 10, 2014
Shots - Health News

Combining The DNA Of Three People Raises Ethical Questions

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 4:03 pm

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

In a darkened lab in the north of England, a research associate is intensely focused on the microscope in front of her. She carefully maneuvers a long glass tube that she uses to manipulate early human embryos.

"It's like microsurgery," says Laura Irving of Newcastle University.

Irving is part of a team of scientists trying to replace defective DNA with healthy DNA. They hope this procedure could one day help women who are carrying genetic disorders have healthy children.

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5:37am

Wed October 15, 2014
Research News

Study Finds Human Stem Cells May Help To Treat Patients

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For the first time ever, scientists are reporting that human embryonic stem cells may be helping treat patients. In the medical journal The Lancet, researchers describe how the cells seem to help restore eyesight to some blind people.

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5:33pm

Tue October 14, 2014
Shots - Health News

Embryonic Stem Cells Restore Vision In Preliminary Human Test

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 10:39 am

Isabella Beukes, of Santa Rosa, Calif., has been legally blind for more than 40 years. An experimental treatment derived from embryonic stem cells seems to have enabled her now to see not just color but also some shapes.
Tim Hussin for NPR

Scientists are reporting the first strong evidence that human embryonic stem cells may be helping patients.

The cells appear to have improved the vision in more than half of the 18 patients who had become legally blind because of two progressive, currently incurable eye diseases.

The researchers stress that the findings must be considered preliminary because the number of patients treated was relatively small and they have only been followed for an average of less than two years.

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11:05am

Thu October 9, 2014
Shots - Health News

Scientists Coax Human Embryonic Stem Cells Into Making Insulin

Originally published on Thu October 9, 2014 5:28 pm

Insulin is produced by the green cells that are in clusters about the same size as the islets in the human pancreas. The red cells are producing another metabolic hormone, glucagon, that prevents low blood sugar.
Harvard University

A team of Harvard scientists said Thursday that they had finally found a way to turn human embryonic stem cells into cells that produce insulin. The long-sought advance could eventually lead to new ways to help millions of people with diabetes.

Right now, many people with diabetes have to regularly check the level of sugar in their blood and inject themselves with insulin to keep the sugar in their blood in check. It's an imperfect treatment.

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3:58am

Mon October 6, 2014
Research News

'Inner GPS' Discovery Wins Nobel Prize In Medicine

Originally published on Mon October 6, 2014 11:32 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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4:06am

Tue September 9, 2014
Health

Researchers Aim For Wider Genetic Screening For Breast Cancer

Originally published on Tue September 9, 2014 7:11 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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3:24pm

Mon September 8, 2014
Shots - Health News

Researcher Urges Wider Genetic Screening For Breast Cancer

Originally published on Tue September 9, 2014 11:43 am

Lisa Schlager of Chevy Chase, Md., demonstrates outside of the Supreme Court as arguments were made in a case seeking to determine whether the BRCA breast cancer genes can be patented. The court ruled in 2013 that individual genes can't be patented.
Tom Williams CQ Roll Call/Getty

A prominent scientist has started a big new debate about breast cancer. Geneticist Mary-Claire King of the University of Washington, who identified the first breast cancer gene, is recommending that all women get tested for genetic mutations that can cause breast cancer.

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12:32pm

Fri August 29, 2014
Shots - Health News

Experimental Drug Saves Monkeys Stricken With Ebola

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 7:40 pm

A Public Health Agency of Canada worker seen inside the National Microbiology Laboratory's Level 4 lab in Winnipeg.
Public Health Agency of Canada/Nature

Scientists are reporting strong evidence that the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp may be effective for treating victims of the devastating disease.

A study involving 18 rhesus macaque monkeys, published Friday in the journal Nature, found that the drug saved 100 percent of the animals even if they didn't receive the drug until five days after they had been infected. The study is the first to test ZMapp in a primate, which is considered a good model for how a drug might work in humans.

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2:31am

Fri August 22, 2014
Goats and Soda

The Dread Factor: Why Ebola And 'Contagion' Scare Us So Much

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 9:16 am

Jude Law prepares for the looming pandemic in the 2011 movie Contagion. There are huge differences between viruses in movies and Ebola in real life.
Warner Bros/The Kobal Collection

The Ebola outbreak has set off an alarm around the world. Public health leaders say the intense concern is appropriate, given the unprecedented size of the outbreak and the deadliness of the virus.

But experts say the outbreak has also produced a lot of unfounded fears. Even just the word Ebola is kind of terrifying.

Why? Well, Hollywood has a lot to do with it.

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2:35am

Thu August 14, 2014
Shots - Health News

Who Gets First Dibs On Transplanted Liver? Rules May Change

Originally published on Thu August 14, 2014 8:21 am

Surgeons at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis prepare to transplant a liver in 2010.
Karen Pulfer Focht The Commercial Appeal/Landov

Vicki Hornbuckle used to play the piano at her church. But that was before her liver started failing.

"I had to give it up because I couldn't keep up," says Hornbuckle, 54, of Snellville, Georgia. "I didn't have the energy to do three services on Sunday. You're just too tired to deal with anything. And so, it's not a life that you want to live."

But Hornbuckle hasn't given up. She's fighting to stay alive long enough to get a liver transplant.

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11:41am

Mon July 28, 2014
Shots - Health News

With Men's Y Chromosome, Size Really May Not Matter

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 12:05 pm

The human Y chromosome (left) holds the code for "maleness"; that's the X on the right.
Andrew Syred/Science Source

Basic biology has it that girls are girls because they have two X chromosomes — the things inside cells that carry our genes. Boys are boys because they have one X and one Y. Recently, though, there's been a lot of debate in scientific circles about the fate of that Y chromosome — the genetic basis of maleness.

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2:08pm

Mon July 14, 2014
Shots - Health News

Do We Choose Our Friends Because They Share Our Genes?

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 10:15 am

People often talk about how their friends feel like family. Well, there's some new research out that suggests there's more to that than just a feeling. People appear to be more like their friends genetically than they are to strangers, the research found.

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