Richard Knox

Since he joined NPR in 2000, Knox has covered a broad range of issues and events in public health, medicine, and science. His reports can be heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Talk of the Nation, and newscasts.

Among other things, Knox's NPR reports have examined the impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa, North America, and the Caribbean; anthrax terrorism; smallpox and other bioterrorism preparedness issues; the rising cost of medical care; early detection of lung cancer; community caregiving; music and the brain; and the SARS epidemic.

Before joining NPR, Knox covered medicine and health for The Boston Globe. His award-winning 1995 articles on medical errors are considered landmarks in the national movement to prevent medical mistakes. Knox is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Columbia University. He has held yearlong fellowships at Stanford and Harvard Universities, and is the author of a 1993 book on Germany's health care system.

He and his wife Jean, an editor, live in Boston. They have two daughters.

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10:36am

Sat July 2, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Harvard Punishes 3 Psychiatrists Over Undisclosed Industry Pay

Child psychiatrist Charles Biederman, of Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital.
Massachusetts General Hospital

Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have disciplined three faculty members in a long-running conflict-of-interest case that became a prime exhibit in the debate over the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2010.

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8:57am

Fri July 1, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

European Disease Detectives Zero In On Fenugreek As E. Coli Source

Originally published on Fri July 1, 2011 4:56 pm

The kidney-destroying E. coli strain called O14:H4 has struck again, this time in France. And the latest outbreak is giving disease detectives more clues about how the germ is getting into Europeans' food.

It's the fenugreek seeds, they think.

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10:24am

Thu June 16, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Genome Maps Solve Medical Mystery For Calif. Twins

The Beery family in 2010 on a visit to Baylor.
Courtesy of Baylor College of Medicine

Ever since scientists began to sequence the entire genomes of individuals --beginning with those of Nobelist James Watson and scientific entrepreneur J. Craig Venter in 2007 — skeptics have wondered just how useful this elegant and expensive trick would become.

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2:21pm

Fri June 10, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Woman Mauled By Chimp Gets A New Face

Charla Nash prior to the injury.
Courtesy of Nash Family

This was almost one for the medical history books — a full face transplant and double hand transplant on the same patient.

Charla Nash, a Connecticut woman who lost her face and hands in early 2009 when she was attacked by an angry chimpanzee, is the patient.

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12:20pm

Thu June 9, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Critic Faults FDA For Tardy Warning On Simvastatin Risk

The fact that 80 daily milligrams of simvastatin (brand name Zocor) can cause serious muscle damage has been known for years. So why did it take the Food and Drug Administration so long to tell doctors and patients they should avoid that dose?

The answer reveals a lot about the FDA's reluctance to restrict use of a popular drug — much less move to take it off the market — even when there are safer alternatives.

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4:00am

Thu June 9, 2011
NPR Story

FDA Warns Against High Doses Of Cholesterol Drug

The Food and Drug Administration is warning that a popular cholesterol drug can cause muscle damage at high doses. The FDA is telling patients to see their doctor if they're taking the highest dose of Zocor, known generically as simvastatin.

9:49am

Wed June 8, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Mixed Results On Foodborne Illness Cast Shadow On Daily Menu

On any given day, more than 130,000 Americans endure the miseries of what we often call food poisoning. It might be from salmonella in the salad, campylobacter in the chicken or vibrio in the shellfish.

The nation's record in preventing foodborne illnesses is decidedly mixed, according to the latest annual report card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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9:29am

Tue June 7, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

U.S. Vulnerable To E. Coli Outbreak Like The One In Europe

A closeup view of the bacterium behind the foodborne disease outbreak centered in Germany.
Manfred Rohde Getty Images

Dr. Christopher Braden, the chief of food- and waterborne diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doesn't expect the Escherichia coli bug causing serious illness in northern Europe to leapfrog the Atlantic anytime soon.

Still, Braden tells Shots, "I am concerned about something similar that could happen in the United States."

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4:07pm

Thu June 2, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Why Making A Safer Birth Control Pill Is So Hard

It's a quest that never seems to end — the search for a safer birth control pill.

Some thought it might be at hand almost a decade ago when a new generation of oral contraceptives came on the market. They contained a hormone called drospirenone, which some thought would be less likely to cause dangerous blood clots.

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4:05pm

Tue May 31, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Doubts Rise Over Virus As Cause Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

XMRV, a mouse virus, may be an artifact of laboratory experiments rather than the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Whittemore Peterson Institute

Two new studies may not be the final nails in the coffin of the hypothesis that a mouse retrovirus called XMRV causes chronic fatigue syndrome. But the hammering is certainly getting louder.

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12:01am

Mon May 23, 2011
Your Health

Doctors Fret Over Rise In Prostate Biopsy Infections

Chicago attorney Tom Hayward suffered a raging infection caused by bacteria present in his gut before a prostate biopsy. He had to be hospitalized, but has since recovered.
Icoi Johnson for NPR

Well over a million U.S. men are thought to get prostate biopsies every year – a test that involves firing needles into a man's prostate gland from a probe stuck into his backside.

For the vast majority the test isn't fun, but it's not dangerous.

But specialists are worrying about an increasing risk of complications from prostate biopsy, especially hard-to-treat bloodstream infections that can send men to the ICU and require weeks of heavy-duty antibiotic treatment.

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12:01am

Wed May 18, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Coffee Lowers Risk Of Deadliest Prostate Cancer

A study finds that drinking at least six cups a day of coffee reduces the risk of aggressive prostate cancer by 60 percent.
Francois Guillot AFP/Getty Images

For a long time scientists have wondered whether coffee might lower the risk of prostate cancer.

Previous studies have been relatively small and have shown mixed results.

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3:48pm

Mon May 9, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

First Full-Face Transplant Recipient In U.S. Returning Home

Dallas Wiens says when he woke up after surgery in March, he asked a nurse if he could touch his new face. Told he could, he gingerly felt his eyelids, nose and mouth — all transplanted from an anonymous donor.

"I said out loud that this should not be medically possible — because it doesn't seem like it should be," Wiens said at a Boston press conference before going home to Texas. "But here I am today."

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8:57am

Fri May 6, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Verdict: Haiti's Cholera Outbreak Originated In U.N. Camp

A man walked by a Port-au-Prince wall in February covered with anti-U.N. graffiti that equates the organization with cholera.
THONY BELIZAIRE AFP/Getty Images

Suspicions that U.N. peacekeepers brought cholera to Haiti last fall are so incendiary in that beleagured nation that most health experts fighting the outbreak have refused to discuss it.

But an expert panel appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has concluded those suspicions are correct.

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5:34pm

Wed May 4, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Swedish Study Finds Surgery For Prostate Cancer Better Than Waiting

For men diagnosed with prostate cancer, uncertainty about what to do remains a big problem, despite years of research on the options.

Now, a Swedish study suggest that radical prostatectomy — complete removal of the prostate gland — is better than "watchful waiting" for the treatment of younger men with low-risk prostate cancer.

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4:25pm

Tue May 3, 2011
Health

Women's Circadian Rhythm Beats Faster Than Men's

A new study shows that women run on a different clock than men.

That is, the biological time-keeper deep in the brain that governs when we sleep and when we wake runs at a faster pace in women. The report, from researchers at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The results have some interesting implications.

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11:06am

Thu April 28, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

New Drugs For Hepatitis C Called Game Changers

With declarations that a new day is dawning in the treatment of hepatitis C, members of a federal advisory panel unanimously approved the first of two new drugs to treat the stubborn liver infection on Wednesday.

The committee is expected to green light the second hep-C drug today. Few doubt the Food and Drug Administration will clear the new drugs for market, possibly as soon as next month.

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3:14pm

Wed April 27, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

New Clues To Why Gastric Bypass Surgery Cures Type 2 Diabetes

Gastric bypass surgery is great for curing type 2 diabetes. It works for up to 80 percent of patients. Now scientists are beginning to figure out why. And weight loss may be the least of it.

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4:49pm

Tue April 26, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Heart Attack Rates Declining, But Hospitals Lag On Providing Best Care

State-of-the-art care for people with dangerous heart attacks really saves lives. The latest evidence out of Sweden — which arguably has the world's most complete data on cardiac care — makes that clear in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

That study documents a sharp drop in mortality from the most serious heart attacks over a 12-year period as Swedish doctors and hospitals adopted scientifically validated practices.

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4:21pm

Mon April 25, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Banishing Wrinkles With Botox May Make You Miss Others' Emotions

A few well-placed Botox injections can erase your hard-won character lines. But that may also make you less likely to pick up on other people's emotions.

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11:00pm

Sun April 24, 2011
Your Health

Got Joint Pain? Maybe The Answer Is More Exercise

Like millions of baby boomers, I've always thought I'd stay active into my later years. That's unlike many in my parents' generation who gave up hiking, biking, running, kayaking and other strenuous pursuits (if they ever did these things in the first place) when they developed aches and pains.

So the last six months have been discouraging. First, there was a painful left Achilles tendon. That was brought on by a gentle two-mile run — after not running for a long time due to bone spur pain that took a year to go away.

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3:59pm

Thu April 21, 2011
Health

Mothers' Pesticide Exposure Linked To Kids' IQs

Scientists report that children exposed before birth to a common class of pesticides can have lower IQ levels when they reach school age. The pesticides, known as organophosphates, are widely used in agriculture.

The new data come from three independent studies published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

One study, from California, involved several hundred women and children who live on or near farms where pesticides are sprayed on crops.

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5:01pm

Mon April 18, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

WHO Resolves Impasse Over Sharing Of Flu Viruses, Access To Vaccines

The World Health Organization has brokered a deal resolving a long-running dispute between poorer countries and developed nations over access to emerging flu viruses and vaccines against them.

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12:01am

Mon April 18, 2011
Your Health

Repelling Bugs With The Essence Of Grapefruit

It's bug season again. And once again, most people won't bother spraying or slathering on repellents.

That bugs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because biting insects are more than an itchy annoyance. Tick bites cause 30,000 Lyme disease infections every year. Mosquito-borne West Nile virus causes 600 potentially fatal brain infections a year.

People's lackadaisical attitude is due to two things, says Marc Dolan of the CDC's vector-borne infectious diseases laboratory in Fort Collins, Colo.

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12:01am

Mon April 11, 2011
Your Health

Sussing Out Senior Moments: A Sign Of Worse To Come?

Everybody over a certain age — say, around 50 — has these moments: The car keys go missing. They can't retrieve a once-familiar name. They stride into a room with purpose and then forget why.

Phyllis Hersch knows about those lapses.

"I go to the store and do five errands and miss the most important one because I've gotten distracted by something else," says Hersh, who just turned 70. Recently she alarmed herself by leaving her car in the garage with the motor running at her home in Massachusetts.

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6:00pm

Thu March 24, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Why We May Not Learn Much New About Radiation Risks From Fukushima

When it comes to health effects from low radiation doses, scientists don't know beans.

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