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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9:16am

Fri September 20, 2013
Shots - Health News

Even As MERS Epidemic Grows, The Source Eludes Scientists

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 10:17 am

Camel jockeys compete at a festival on the outskirts of Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh, a focal point for the Middle East respiratory syndrome virus.
Fayez Nureldine AFP/Getty Images

A year after doctors first identified an illness that came to be known as Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome researchers are reporting fresh genetic information about the virus that causes it.

The findings don't bring scientists any closer to understanding where MERS is coming from. In fact, the main news is that researchers were wrong about the source of some infections in the largest cluster of cases so far.

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12:39pm

Tue September 17, 2013
Shots - Health News

Healthful Living May Lengthen Telomeres And Lifespans

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 3:22 pm

Scientists claim they have evidence that explains why lifestyle changes known to be good for you — low-fat diets, exercise, reducing stress — can lengthen your life.

Based on a small, exploratory study, researchers say these good habits work by preventing chromosomes in our cells from unraveling. Basically, they assert that healthy living can reverse the effects of aging at a genetic level.

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8:02am

Sun September 15, 2013
Shots - Health News

Deadly Amoeba Found For First Time In Municipal Water Supply

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 10:32 am

Kali Hardig, 12, was released from a hospital in Little Rock, Ark., on Sept. 11 after surviving a brain infection caused by amoebas.
Danny Johnston Associated Press

A 4-year-old child who died of a rare brain infection in early August has led Louisiana health officials to discover that the cause is lurking in the water pipes of St. Bernard Parish, southeast of New Orleans.

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8:52am

Wed September 11, 2013
Shots - Health News

Fast Tests For Drug Resistance Bolster Malaria Fight

Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 11:15 am

A Cambodian boy gets tested for malaria at a clinic along the Thai-Cambodian border in 2010. Three strains of drug-resistant malaria have emerged from this region over the past 50 years.
Paula Bronstein Getty Images

3:03am

Sun September 1, 2013
Shots - Health News

The Case For Clearing More Arteries During Heart Attacks

There's been great progress in treating heart disease, but it remains the top killer in the U.S.
iStockphoto.com

An aggressive approach to preventing heart attacks could be the next big thing in the long battle against this leading cause of death.

A British study presented Sunday in Amsterdam finds that doctors can reduce future heart attacks and cardiac deaths by opening up multiple clogged coronary arteries while they're fixing the artery that's causing a heart attack in progress.

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5:05pm

Wed August 28, 2013
Shots - Health News

Illicit Drugs And Mental Illness Take A Huge Global Toll

A homeless man smokes crack in the Barrio Triste neighborhood in Medellin, Colombia.
Raul Arboleda AFP/Getty Images

Mental disorders and substance abuse are the leading causes of nonfatal illness on the planet, according to an ambitious analysis of data from around the world.

A companion report, the first of its kind, documents the global impact of four illicit drugs: heroin and other opiates, amphetamines, cocaine and cannabis. It calls illegal drugs "an important contributor to the global burden of disease."

The two papers are being published by The Lancet as part of a continuing project called the Global Burden of Disease.

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6:32pm

Tue August 27, 2013
Shots - Health News

Vaccinating Babies For Rotavirus Protects The Whole Family

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 4:40 pm

An artistic illustration of the rotavirus.
petersimoncik iStockPhoto.com

A 7-year-old vaccine that has drastically cut intestinal infections in infants is benefiting the rest of America, too.

A study published Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that vaccinating infants against rotavirus has also caused a striking decline in serious infections among older children and adults who didn't get vaccinated.

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12:36pm

Tue August 27, 2013
Shots - Health News

More Stroke Patients Now Get Clot-Busting Drug

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 12:14 pm

A brain scan followed by quick drug treatment in the right patients can stop a stroke in its tracks.
iStockphoto.com

It's been a long and often controversial road, but U.S. doctors are finally embracing a drug that can halt strokes and prevent disabling brain damage.

An analysis of more than 1 million stroke patients shows that use of the 17-year-old drug, called alteplase (brand-name Activase), nearly doubled between 2003 and 2011.

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11:18am

Fri August 23, 2013
Shots - Health News

Another Study Of Preemies Blasted Over Ethical Concerns

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 12:09 pm

What should parents be told before their premature infants participate in a clinical study?
iStockphoto.com

For the second time in four months, the consumer group Public Citizen is alleging that a large, federally funded study of premature infants is ethically flawed.

Both complaints raise a big issue that's certain to get more attention beyond these particular studies: What's the ethically right way to do research on the validity of the usual care that doctors provide every day.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will host an unusual forum on that question next Wednesday — stimulated by the sharp questions raised by Public Citizen.

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2:03pm

Wed August 21, 2013
Shots - Health News

Ebola Treatment Works In Monkeys, Even After Symptoms Appear

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 8:58 pm

The Ebola virus forms threadlike structures under the microscope.
Cynthia Goldsmith CDC

Ebola, your days as one of the world's scariest diseases may be numbered.

A team of U.S. government researchers has shown that deadly Ebola hemorrhagic fever can be vanquished in monkeys by an experimental drug given up to five days after infection — even when symptoms have already developed.

An antibody cocktail aimed at Ebola's outer surface rescued three of seven macaques infected with lethal doses of the hemorrhagic virus in the U.S. Army's high-security labs at Fort Detrick, Md.

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5:27pm

Mon August 19, 2013
Shots - Health News

Lyme Disease Far More Common Than Previously Known

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 6:58 pm

Black-legged ticks like this can transmit the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.
CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 300,000 Americans are getting Lyme disease every year, and the toll is growing.

"It confirms what we've thought for a long time: This is a large problem," Dr. Paul Mead tells Shots. "The bottom line is that by defining how big the problem is we make it easier for everyone to figure out what kind of resources we have to use to address it."

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5:27pm

Wed August 14, 2013
Shots - Health News

Evidence Supports Pill To Prevent Some Prostate Cancers

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 8:40 am

The active ingredient in Propecia, a baldness remedy approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1997, is showing new promise as a way to prevent some prostate cancers.
AP

Researchers say a cheap, generic pill called finasteride prevents almost 40 percent of low-grade prostate cancers without increasing the risk of dying from more aggressive tumors.

New evidence points to the drug as a potentially safer way to deal with prostate cancers that now get more intense treatment. Many prostate cancers that aren't destined to cause men serious health problems are often treated with surgery or radiation.

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3:34pm

Wed July 31, 2013
Shots - Health News

Nurse Charged With Assisting In Her Father's Death

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 6:22 pm

Barbara Mancini with her father, Joe Yourshaw.
Barbara Mancini via Compassion & Choices

A Philadelphia nurse has been charged with assisted suicide for allegedly providing her 93-year-old father with a lethal dose of morphine.

Authorities say Barbara Mancini, 57, told a hospice nurse and a police officer on Feb. 7 that she provided a vial of morphine to her father, Joe Yourshaw, to hasten his death.

Mancini and her attorneys acknowledge she handed the medication to her father, but maintain she never said she intended to help him end his life and was only trying to help her father ease his pain — an act they say is legally protected, even if it causes death.

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6:29pm

Mon July 29, 2013
Shots - Health News

Panel Urges Lung Cancer Screening For Millions Of Americans

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 2:24 pm

Some images of lung cancer are clear cut. But in many others, a nodule on the screen turns out not to be cancer at all.
iStockphoto.com

A federal task force is planning to recommend that millions of smokers and former smokers get a CT scan annually to look for early signs of lung cancer.

The 16-member US Preventive Services Task Force gives that lung cancer screening test a grade of B, which puts it on the same level as mammography for women between the ages of 50 and 74.

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2:58pm

Fri July 19, 2013
Shots - Health News

HPV Vaccination Might Help Reduce Risk Of Throat Cancers

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 4:29 pm

Vaccines against the HPV virus are already used to prevent cervical and anal cancer.
Harry Cabluck AP

A study of women in Costa Rica is raising hope that getting vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, could lower the risk of throat cancers.

The research doesn't show that. It would take a much bigger and longer study to do that – if such a study could ethically be done at all.

What this study does show is that among the nearly 6,000 women in the study, those who got vaccinated against two strains of the virus had 93 percent fewer HPV throat infections four years later.

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