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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5:06pm

Mon December 2, 2013
Shots - Health News

Obama Launches HIV Cure Initiative, Ups Pledge For Global Health

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 5:45 pm

President Obama walks into an auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building Monday for a speech about World AIDS Day.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Commemorating the 25th World AIDS Day a day late, President Obama announced an initiative Monday to find a cure for HIV infections that would be funded by $100 million shifted from existing spending.

"The United States should be at the forefront of new discoveries into how to put people into long-term remission without requiring lifelong therapies — or better yet, eliminate it completely," Obama said at a meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House.

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6:51pm

Tue November 26, 2013
Shots - Health News

2009 Flu Pandemic Was 10 Times More Deadly Than Previously Thought

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 10:10 pm

PLOS Medicine/Michaeleen Doucleff/NPR

By the World Health Organization's official tally, the flu pandemic of 2009-10 killed 18,449 people around the world. Those are deaths of people who had laboratory-confirmed cases of the so-called swine flu.

But a fresh analysis says the real toll was 10 times higher — up to 203,000 deaths. And maybe it was twice that, if you count people who died of things like heart attacks precipitated by the flu.

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5:43pm

Tue November 12, 2013
Shots - Health News

Shift In Cholesterol Advice Could Double Statin Use

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 2:57 pm

Statin drugs to lower cholesterol have become among the most widely prescribed prescription medications in the United States.
Bill Gallery ASSOCIATED PRESS

After decades of cajoling Americans to know their cholesterol level and get it down as low as possible, the nation's leading heart specialists are changing course.

Cholesterol is still important. But new guidelines published Tuesday afternoon throw out the notion that a specific blood cholesterol level should automatically trigger treatment with cholesterol-lowering drugs.

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3:01am

Tue November 12, 2013
Shots - Health News

WHO Rates Typhoon's Medical Challenges "Monumental"

A woman comforts a pregnant relative suffering labor pains at a makeshift birthing clinic in typhoon-battered city of Tacloban, Philippines on Nov. 11.
Erik de Castro Reuters /Landov

Images of the swath of devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in the central Philippines are reminiscent of the tsunami's aftermath in Banda Aceh, Indonesia nearly a decade ago.

And indeed, the World Health Organization grades the great typhoon of 2013 as a Category 3 disaster – its most severe category.

"The scale [of the typhoon's damage] is huge," Dr. Richard Brennan of the World Health Organization tells Shots. "It's monumental. This is one of the biggest emergencies we've dealt with in some time."

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10:32am

Tue November 5, 2013
Shots - Health News

Insurance Cancellations: The Price Of Mending A Broken System?

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 12:36 pm

iStockphoto.com

Lisa Dieckman, a retired psychologist in Los Angeles, likes the Affordable Care Act's promise that everybody can get health insurance. But she's not happy about being told she can't keep her own coverage and will have to pay considerably more for a policy she doesn't consider any better.

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4:02am

Tue November 5, 2013
Health Care

Insurance Firms Forced To Cancel Many Individual Policies

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 5:08 am

More than 12 million Americans buy health insurance on their own, and many are getting cancellation notices because their individual coverage does not meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act. This is causing anxiety and anger — especially since most of these people can't get onto the healthcare.gov website to figure out their options for 2014.

11:47am

Thu October 31, 2013
Shots - Health News

AIDS Scientists Encouraged By Antibodies That Hit Monkey Virus

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 3:15 pm

These HIV viruses even look a little like bull's-eyes.
A. Harrison and P. Feorino CDC

Scientists have a new idea for beating HIV: Target the virus with guided missiles called monoclonal antibodies.

At least in monkeys infected with an experimental virus similar to the human AIDS virus, the approach produced what researchers call "profound therapeutic efficacy."

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5:21pm

Wed October 23, 2013
Shots - Health News

A Toddler Remains HIV-Free, Raising Hope For Babies Worldwide

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 6:31 pm

HIV-positive babies rest in an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. Treatment right after birth may make it possible for HIV-positive newborns to fight off the virus.
Brent Stirton Getty Images

A 3-year-old girl born in Mississippi with HIV acquired from her mother during pregnancy remains free of detectable virus at least 18 months after she stopped taking antiviral pills.

New results on this child, published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, appear to green-light a study in the advanced planning stages in which researchers around the world will try to replicate her successful treatment in other infected newborns.

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3:12am

Wed October 23, 2013
Shots - Health News

Haitian Cholera Strain Spreads To Mexico

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 1:21 pm

A nurse treats a cholera patient at the Juan Pablo Pina Hospital in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, in August. Health officials say that the strain of cholera circulating in the country— the same one that first appeared in Haiti three years ago — has also caused outbreaks in Cuba and now Mexico.
Erika Santelices AFP/Getty Images

A South Asian strain of cholera that was introduced into Haiti three years ago this month has now spread to this continent's mainland.

Mexico is the fourth Western Hemisphere country to experience the cholera outbreak. It's a disease that's very hard to stamp out once it gets into an area with poor water and sanitation.

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12:01pm

Fri October 18, 2013
Shots - Health News

To Prevent HIV Infection, Couples Try Testing Together

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 12:56 pm

David Lozano (left) and Kevin Kreinbring stand in front of a painting created by Lozano. The couple says they get tested for HIV together every six months.
Courtesy of David Lozano

Getting tested for HIV in the U.S. is almost always private, sometimes even secretive. Ditto for disclosing the results.

But some say the approach is outmoded at a time when many at risk for HIV — gay men — are in committed relationships.

Research shows as many as two-thirds of new HIV infections among gay men these days are within committed couples. That's very different from the days when promiscuity fueled the epidemic.

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4:08pm

Wed October 9, 2013
Shots - Health News

Activists Sue U.N. Over Cholera That Killed Thousands In Haiti

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 8:32 am

Haitians protest against United Nations peacekeepers in Port-au-Prince in 2010.
Hector Retamal AFP/Getty Images

Human rights activists are suing the United Nations on behalf of five Haitian families afflicted by cholera — a disease many believe U.N. peacekeeping troops brought to Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake there.

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6:37pm

Thu October 3, 2013
Shots - Health News

Some Online Journals Will Publish Fake Science, For A Fee

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 10:34 am

You could do all that brain work. Or you could make it up.
iStockphoto.com

Many online journals are ready to publish bad research in exchange for a credit card number.

That's the conclusion of an elaborate sting carried out by Science, a leading mainline journal. The result should trouble doctors, patients, policymakers and anyone who has a stake in the integrity of science (and who doesn't?).

The business model of these "predatory publishers" is a scientific version of those phishes from Nigerians who want help transferring a few million dollars into your bank account.

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3:23am

Tue October 1, 2013
Shots - Health News

Lessons For The Obamacare Rollout, Courtesy Of Massachusetts

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 9:23 am

Then-Gov. Mitt Romney signs the Massachusetts health care bill in Boston on April 12, 2006.
Brian Snyder Reuters/Landov

Today marks a milestone on the nation's long march toward universal health coverage: the launch of online marketplaces, called exchanges, designed to help people find insurance they can afford.

It's an idea pioneered by Massachusetts seven years ago. People here call their program a success, and say the state's exchange was an indispensable factor.

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12:39pm

Thu September 26, 2013
Shots - Health News

For A Price, Volunteers Endure Scientists' Flu Spritzes

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 3:01 pm

How much would a scientist have to pay you to get sick with the flu?
F.T. Werner iStockphoto.com

What would it take to persuade you to allow government researchers to squirt millions of live flu viruses up your nose?

A recently concluded project at the National Institutes of Health found, among other things, that $3,400 each was enough to attract plenty of volunteers.

"I am happy I could contribute in some way," says Kelli Beyer, 24, one of 46 healthy people who volunteered for the project. To get the money, the research subjects had to commit to several days of testing, then nine days in a hospital isolation ward once the virus was administered in a nasal spray.

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1:41pm

Mon September 23, 2013
Shots - Health News

On Eve Of U.N. Goal-Setting, AIDS Agency Claims Big Progress

A doctor takes an HIV test from an athlete during the 18th National Sports Festival in Lagos, Nigeria, last December.
Sunday Alamba AP

Despite a plateau in funding by international donors, the United Nations AIDS agency reports striking progress in curbing new HIV infections and deaths from AIDS.

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