Joseph Shapiro

Joseph Shapiro is a NPR News Investigations correspondent.

In this role, Shapiro takes on long-term reporting projects and covers breaking news stories for NPR's news shows.

Shapiro's major investigative stories include his reports on the failure of colleges and universities to punish for on-campus sexual assaults; the inadequacy of civil rights laws designed to get the elderly and people with disabilities out of nursing homes, and the little-known profits involved in the production of medical products from donated human cadavers.

His reporting has generated wide-spread attention to serious issues here and abroad. His "Child Cases" series, reported with PBS Frontline and ProPublica, found two dozen cases in the U.S. and Canada where parents and caregivers were charged with killing children, but the charges were later reversed or dropped. Since that series, a Texas man who was the focus of one story was released from prison. And in California, a woman, who was the subject of another story, had her sentence commuted.

Shapiro joined NPR in November 2001 and spent eight years covering health, aging, disability and children's and family issues on the Science Desk. He reported on the health issues of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and helped start NPR's 2005 Impact of War series with reporting from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center. He covered stories from Hurricane Katrina to the debate over overhauling the nation's health care system.

Before coming to NPR, Shapiro spent 19 years at U.S. News & World Report, as a Senior Writer on social policy and served as the magazine's Rome bureau chief, White House correspondent and congressional reporter.

Among honors for his investigative journalism, Shapiro has received a Peabody Award, a Robert F. Kennedy Award, the Edward R. Murrow Award, Sigma Delta Chi, IRE, Dart and Gracie awards and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Award.

Shapiro is the author of the award-winning NO PITY: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement (Random House/Three Rivers Press), which is widely read in disability studies classes.

Shapiro studied long-term care and end-of-life issues as a participant in the yearlong 1997 Kaiser Media Fellowship in Health program. In 1990, he explored the changing world of people with disabilities as an Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow.

Shapiro attended the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Carleton College. He's a native of Washington, D.C., and lives there now with his family.

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5:53pm

Mon February 25, 2013
Remembrances

Koop Turned Surgeon General's Office Into Mighty Education Platform

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 1:34 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

C. Everett Koop was the most outspoken and some would argue the most influential of all U.S. surgeon generals. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: The correct plural form of the word is surgeons general.] He wore the uniform throughout most of the 1980s, and he turned an office with little power into a mighty platform - to educate Americans about AIDS prevention and the dangers of smoking.

C. Everett Koop died today at his home in Hanover, New Hampshire. He was 96. NPR's Joseph Shapiro looks back on his career.

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1:35pm

Wed January 16, 2013
Shots - Health News

Why A Young Man Died In A Nursing Home, A State Away From His Mom

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 4:12 pm

Zach Sayne at age 5, with his mother Nola.
Courtesy of Nola Sayne

Zach Sayne was 25 when he died earlier this month at the place that had been his home for 15 years — a children's nursing home in Alabama.

But that was too far away, 200 miles too far, for his mother in Georgia. Nola Sayne was trying to bring him back, closer to her home. The story of why she couldn't reveals the bureaucratic traps, underfunding and lack of choices that plague state Medicaid programs.

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3:16pm

Fri December 21, 2012
NPR News Investigations

Dismissed Case Raises Questions On Shaken Baby Diagnosis

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 3:27 pm

Jennie and Kristian Aspelin pose in a pumpkin patch with their children two weeks before three-month-old Johan died.
Courtesy of the Aspelin family

When San Francisco prosecutors dismissed charges against Kristian Aspelin in early December, it became just the latest case to raise questions about how shaken baby syndrome is diagnosed. Aspelin, who was accused of causing the death of his infant son, had one thing in his favor: He had enough money to pay for medical experts who cast doubt on the prosecution's theory.

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11:22am

Sun October 7, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Spinal Surgery Company To Give Tissue Proceeds To Charity

The maker of a new product for spine surgeons wants to make a splash by donating proceeds to two charities.
Spinal Elements

When a California company developed a product to be used in spinal fusion surgeries, the firm's president said he knew it faced a new "ethical dilemma," even noting a recent NPR news investigation questioning the high profits some firms were making from donated human tissue.

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3:36am

Tue October 2, 2012
The Two-Way

Brain-Damaged Man Wins New Trial In Two-Decades-Old Killing

Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 1:08 pm

Richard Lapointe confessed in 1989 that he stabbed, raped and killed his wife's 88-year-old grandmother two years earlier. But in the 23 years since, experts in criminal justice have come to better understand how sometimes people make false confessions — especially someone with brain damage, like Lapointe. On Monday, Connecticut's state Appellate Court ordered a new trial, saying prosecutors wrongly withheld potentially important evidence.

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7:07pm

Thu September 6, 2012
The Two-Way

Pistorius Falls To Britain's Peacock In 100 Meters; American Browne Is Second

Originally published on Fri September 7, 2012 6:25 am

Bronze medalist Arnu Fourie of South Africa (from left), gold medalist Jonnie Peacock of Great Britain, silver medalist Richard Browne of the United States and Oscar Pistorius of South Africa cross the line in the Men's 100m - T44 Final at London's Olympic Stadium.
Jamie McDonald Getty Images

In one of the most closely watched events at the London Paralympics, South African Oscar Pistorius failed in his attempt to win the 100-meter sprint and regain his title as the world's fastest amputee today.

Great Britain's Jonnie Peacock took the lead early and kept it, winning in 10.90 seconds, a Paralympic record. American Richard Browne, 21, of Jackson, Miss., won the silver medal.

Pistorius, the double amputee who ran in the Olympics this year, came in fourth. He finished in 11.17 seconds.

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4:36pm

Wed September 5, 2012
The Two-Way

Oscar Pistorius Seeks Redemption In Race To Be The World's Fastest Amputee

Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 6:43 am

In a surprise finish, Brazil's Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira (left) races past South Africa's Oscar Pistorius to win a gold medal in the 200-meter race at the 2012 London Paralympic Games.
Emilio Morenatti AP

One of the best stories of the London Olympics was Oscar Pistorius running for South Africa on his prosthetic legs. His fight to make the Olympic team brought new attention to sports for people with disabilities. And the attention also brought new competitors — who now are vying with Pistorius to claim the title of world's fastest amputee.

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6:24am

Sun September 2, 2012
Sports

Paralympian's Pursuit Enables Aspiring Athletes

Tatyana McFadden has won medals at the Paralympic Games in 2004 and 2008. At this year's games in London, she's participating in every wheelchair race from the 100-meter sprint to the marathon.
Courtesy of Deborah McFadden

At the Paralympics Games now taking place in London, two American wheelchair racers from Maryland will make history: Tatyana McFadden and her sister Hannah will be the first sisters ever to compete against each other at these world championships for athletes with disabilities.

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5:22pm

Tue August 28, 2012
Sports

Debate Pits Strasburg's Health Against Wins

Originally published on Tue August 28, 2012 8:52 pm

Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals pitches against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park last week.
Patrick McDermott Getty Images

One of the biggest debates in Washington, D.C., these days has nothing to do with taxes, health care or the economy. It's about baseball and whether the Washington Nationals should end the season of their young pitching star, Stephen Strasburg, just as the team may be headed for the playoffs.

Two years ago, Strasburg's promising career was threatened when he tore a ligament in his pitching arm. He needed surgery and couldn't pitch for a year.

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4:57pm

Tue August 28, 2012
Politics

New Jersey's Struggles May Shadow Christie's Speech

Originally published on Tue August 28, 2012 8:52 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

As we mentioned, New Jersey Governor Christ Christie gives tonight's keynote speech. For a while, the popular first-term governor was rumored to be in the running for the vice presidential spot, and his appearance tonight could raise his national profile even more.

But as NPR's Joel Rose reports, tough economic times in New Jersey may put a damper on Christie's remarks.

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3:33am

Thu July 19, 2012
Human Tissue Donation

The Seamy Side Of The Human Tissue Business

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 8:01 am

Michael Mastromarino (center) appeared in a New York City courtroom for sentencing on charges of corruption, body stealing and reckless endangerment, as the mastermind behind a scheme to loot hundreds of corpses and sell bone and tissue for transplants.
Jesse Ward AP

Part 4 in a four-part series

The human tissue industry has created medical advances for millions of Americans. Tissue taken from cadavers is turned into medical products for the living. A tendon can be used to repair a torn ACL. Veins are used in heart bypass operations. Bone can be turned into plates and screws. They look like something you'd find in a hardware store, but these get used to mend a broken leg. It's a $1 billion-a-year industry that attracts the altruistic, but sometimes the greedy.

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2:43pm

Wed July 18, 2012
Human Tissue Donation

Am I A Tissue Donor, Too?

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 9:20 pm

Organ and tissue donation forms vary from state to state. Some are very general, while others allow people to choose or restrict what they want to donate.
iStockphoto.com

Part 3 in a four-part series

Maybe you've agreed to be an organ donor. There might be something on your driver's license — a red heart, a pink dot or the word "Donor" — to show it. That also means you've very likely agreed — even if you don't realize it — to donate more than just your organs.

I know that I'm an organ donor. I signed up years ago, when I renewed my driver's license. But I had no idea that I'd also signed up to donate my tissue. That is, until Laura Siminoff, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University's medical school, explained it to me.

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4:03am

Wed July 18, 2012
Human Tissue Donation

Little Regulation Poses Problems Tracking Tissue

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 9:16 pm

Unlike organs, tissue doesn't need to be transplanted immediately. Storage facilities like Tissue Banks International in San Rafael, Calif., process and store donated tissue for later use in medical products or as transplants.
Noah Berger AP

Part 2 of a four-part series

Two winters ago, Lynnette Bellin tore her knee while skiing with her 5-year-old daughter.

"I felt the trademark pop ... and instantly knew I had injured my knee," she says.

But within a year, she was back to her athletic life.

"Recently in one week, I skied, ran, kayaked, standup paddle-boarded, swam and hiked. At the end of that week, I looked back in awe from where I have come from," she says.

Bellin healed quickly after receiving a tendon from a cadaver, which helped to repair her torn ACL.

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12:48pm

Tue July 17, 2012
NPR News Investigations

Calculating The Value Of Human Tissue Donation

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 9:11 pm

Chris Truitt holds a photo of his daughter, Alyssa, who died when she was 2, at his home in De Forest Wis. After donating her organs and tissues, he decided on a career change that made him rethink tissue donation.
Narayan Mahon for NPR

Part 1 of a four-part series

The story of how Chris Truitt went from being a tissue industry insider to an industry skeptic starts with a family tragedy.

In 1999, his 2-year-old daughter, Alyssa, died of a sudden health complication. Truitt and his wife, Holly, donated their daughter's organs and tissue, which saved the life of another young girl, Kaylin Arrowood.

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3:01pm

Wed July 4, 2012
Sports

Baseball's Teen Phenom Steals Home, And Hearts

Originally published on Wed July 4, 2012 4:03 pm

Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper walks out of the clubhouse before an interleague baseball game in Baltimore.
Patrick Semansky AP

Bryce Harper was 16 when he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, pictured swinging a bat in the desert and declared "Baseball's Chosen One."

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