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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Shots - Health News
6:24 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Use Of E-Cigarettes Triples Among U.S. Teens

Nicotine exposure at a young age "may cause lasting harm to brain development," warns Dr. Tom Frieden, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 8:13 pm

A national survey confirms earlier indications that e-cigarettes are now more popular among teenage students than traditional cigarettes and other forms of tobacco, federal health officials reported Thursday.

The findings prompted strong warnings from Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about the effects of any form of nicotine on young people.

"We want parents to know that nicotine is dangerous for kids at any age," Frieden said.

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Shots - Health News
5:04 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

Why Knuckles Crack

NPR intern Poncie Rutsch takes a crack at making a big sound.
Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 4:19 pm

Scientists think they may have solved an old question about the cracking of knuckles: Why does it make that sound?

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Shots - Health News
4:06 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

Will A Transplanted Hand Feel Like His Own? Surgery Raises Questions

Kevin Lopez at home in Greenbelt, Md.
Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 7:48 pm

When Kevin Lopez opens the door to his Greenbelt, Md., apartment to greet a visitor he's never before met, he initially conceals his right hand.

"I'm self-conscious, definitely, about my right hand," he says. But eventually Lopez relaxes.

"I was born like this," he says. "As you can see, I don't have any fingers." It bothers the 20-year-old enough that he has volunteered to do something drastic: to have his right hand removed and replaced with another person's hand via surgery.

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Shots - Health News
3:53 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Tobacco Firm Seeks Softer Warning For Cigarette Alternative

Will this maker of snus, an alternative to cigarettes, be allowed to claim it is less harmful?
Swedish Match

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 5:50 pm

The Food and Drug Administration is weighing whether to allow a tobacco company to do something it's never done before — claim that one of its products is less risky than cigarettes.

The company, Swedish Match of Stockholm, has applied to the FDA to designate its General brand of snus (rhymes with "loose") as safer than other versions of tobacco.

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Shots - Health News
5:12 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Scientists Urge Temporary Moratorium On Human Genome Edits

Microbiologist Jennifer Doudna at the University of California, Berkeley. She's co-inventor of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology — a tool that's recently made the snipping and splicing of genes much easier.
Cailey Cotner UC Berkeley

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 7:58 pm

A new technology called CRISPR could allow scientists to alter the human genetic code for generations. That's causing some leading biologists and bioethicists to sound an alarm.

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Goats and Soda
6:36 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Breast-Feeding Boosts Chances Of Success, Study In Brazil Finds

Brazilian mothers participate in a demonstration in 2011 for the right to breastfeed in public, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Eduardo Anizelli/STF LatinContent/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 12:23 pm

Babies who are breast-fed may be more likely to be successful in life, a provocative study published Tuesday suggests.

The study followed more than 3,000 babies into adulthood in Brazil. The researchers found those who were breast-fed scored slightly higher in intelligence tests in their 30s, stayed in school longer and earned more money than those who were given formula.

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Shots - Health News
3:43 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Fertility Clinic Courts Controversy With Treatment That Recharges Eggs

Along with sperm, the in vitro procedure adds fresh mitochondria extracted from less mature cells in the same woman's ovaries. The hope is to revitalize older eggs with these extra "batteries." But the FDA still wants proof that the technique works and is safe.
Chris Nickels for NPR

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 4:57 pm

Melissa and her husband started trying to have a baby right after they got married. But nothing was happening. So they went to a fertility clinic and tried round after round of everything the doctors had to offer. Nothing worked.

"They basically told me, 'You know, you have no chance of getting pregnant,' " says Melissa, who asked to be identified only by her first name to protect her privacy.

But Melissa, 30, who lives in Ontario, Canada, didn't give up. She switched clinics and kept trying. She got pregnant once, but that ended in a miscarriage.

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Shots - Health News
5:03 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

FDA Mandates Tougher Warnings On Testosterone

AndroGel, a testosterone replacement made by AbbVie, is seen at a pharmacy in Princeton, Ill.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 5:03 pm

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that it is requiring drugmakers to warn patients that testosterone products may increase the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

Testosterone replacements are approved to treat men with low testosterone related to medical problems, such as genetic deficiencies, chemotherapy or damaged testicles.

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Shots - Health News
5:37 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Infections With Dangerous Gut Microbe Still On The Rise

An overgrowth of Clostridium difficile bacteria can inflame the colon with a life-threatening infection.
Dr. David Phillips Getty Images/Visuals Unlimited

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 6:34 pm

A potentially life-threatening gastrointestinal infection is more common than previously estimated, federal health officials reported Wednesday.

The infection, caused by a bacterium known as Clostridium difficile, or C-diff, causes nearly 500,000 illnesses in the United States each year and kills about 29,000, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The Salt
4:56 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Feeding Babies Foods With Peanuts Appears To Prevent Allergies

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 2:28 pm

Babies at high risk for becoming allergic to peanuts are much less likely to develop the allergy if they are regularly fed foods containing the legumes starting in their first year of life.

That's according to a big new study released Monday involving hundreds of British babies. The researchers found that those who consumed the equivalent of about 4 heaping teaspoons of peanut butter each week, starting when they were between 4 and 11 months old, were about 80 percent less likely to develop a peanut allergy by their fifth birthday.

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