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.

Pages

Health
3:34 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Angelina Jolie Pitt's Surgeries Will Reduce Cancer Risk, Doctors Say

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 11:40 am

In a New York Times op-ed Tuesday, Angelina Jolie Pitt revealed that she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed because of cancer fears. Doctors say that because of her family history, it will reduce her risk by almost 90 percent.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:12 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 6:58 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.

Read more
Goats and Soda
5:36 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 11:23 am

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.

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:43 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 3:57 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.

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:03 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 4:03 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.

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:00 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 5:34 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.

Read more
The Salt
3:56 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Feeding Babies Foods With Peanuts Appears To Prevent Allergies

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 1:28 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.

Read more
Shots - Health News
11:41 pm
Sun February 22, 2015

Kids, Allergies And A Possible Downside To Squeaky Clean Dishes

Vidhya Nagarajan for NPR

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 10:21 am

Could using a dishwashing machine increase the chances your child will develop allergies? That's what some provocative new research suggests — but don't tear out your machine just yet.

The study involved 1,029 Swedish children (ages 7 or 8) and found that those whose parents said they mostly wash the family's dishes by hand were significantly less likely to develop eczema, and somewhat less likely to develop allergic asthma and hay fever.

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:09 pm
Mon February 16, 2015

Female Libido Pill Fires Up Debate About Women And Sex

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 7:35 am

For 15 years, Carla Price and her husband's sex life was great. But then things began to change.

"Before, I would want to have sex," says Price, who is 50 and lives in central Missouri. "But over the years my sexual desire has just dwindled to nothing."

Price has no idea why. She's healthy. She's not really stressed out about anything. And she's still totally crazy about her husband.

"It's not that our relationship got boring," Price says. "Because it's actually the opposite — we became closer as we got older together."

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:33 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Harnessing The Immune System To Fight Cancer

Marder says immunotherapy has side effects but is less tiring than chemotherapy.
Claire Eggers/NPR

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 3:35 pm

When Barbara Marder was diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago, she had part of her right lung removed, went through a round of chemotherapy and tried to move on with her life.

"I had hoped that everything was fine — that I would not create difficulty for my children, that I would get to see my grandchildren grow up," says Marder, 73, of Arnold, Md.

But a routine scan a year later found bad news: The cancer was back — this time in her other lung.

Read more
Humans
3:06 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

U.K. Lawmakers Allow Scientists To Attempt 'DNA Transplants'

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 10:02 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:08 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

E-Cigarettes Can Churn Out High Levels Of Formaldehyde

Vapor from an e-cigarette obscures the user's face in a London coffee bar.
Dan Kitwood Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 3:55 pm

Vapor produced by electronic cigarettes can contain a surprisingly high concentration of formaldehyde — a known carcinogen — researchers reported Wednesday.

The findings, described in a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine, intensify concern about the safety of electronic cigarettes, which have become increasingly popular.

Read more
Shots - Health News
12:42 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

This Year's Flu Vaccine Is Pretty Wimpy, But Can Still Help

Bruno Mbango Enyaka gets his flu shot at a community health center in Portland, Maine, on Jan. 7.
Gabe Souza Press Herald via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 6:21 pm

As expected, this year's flu vaccine looks like it's pretty much of a dud.

The vaccine only appears to cut the chances that someone will end up sick with the flu by 23 percent, according to the first estimate of the vaccine's effectiveness by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:17 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Specialists Split Over HPV Test's Role In Cancer Screening

The human papilloma virus causes most — but not all — cases of cancer of the cervix.
James Cavallini ScienceSource

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 11:49 am

Two medical groups say doctors could replace the Pap smear with a different test to screen many women for cervical cancer.

But that recommendation, included in an "interim guidance" released Thursday, is highly controversial; other experts call it premature.

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:28 am
Wed December 31, 2014

Potent Powdered Caffeine Raises Safety Worries

One teaspoon of pure caffeine powder delivers about the same jolt as 25 cups of coffee.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 6:32 am

Wade Sweatt thought he had found a healthier way to get himself going in the morning. Instead of getting his daily jolt of caffeine from a cup of coffee or a Coke, Sweatt decided last summer to try mixing some powdered caffeine he'd bought via the Internet with some water or milk.

"Wade was very health-conscious, a very healthy person," says Sweatt's father, James. "His idea was, this was healthier than getting all the sugar and the sodium and ... artificial sweeteners from drinking Coca-Colas and diet Cokes."

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:26 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

One More Reason To Reach For A Paper Book Before Bed

Sleepy in the day and wide awake at night? Give the screen a rest.
Guido Mieth Getty Images/Flickr RM

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 7:18 am

E-readers may make it particularly hard to get a good night's sleep, according to research out this week.

A study that followed every nightly twitch, turn and snore of 12 volunteers for a couple weeks found that those who read from an iPad before hitting the sack had a harder time falling asleep, spent less time in a crucial phase of sleep, and were less alert the next day.

Read more
The Two-Way
4:48 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Mishandling Of Ebola Sample May Have Exposed CDC Technician To Virus

Stringy particles of Ebola virus (blue) bud from a chronically infected cell (yellow-green) in this colorized, scanning electron micrograph.
NIAID Science Source

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 12:54 pm

Federal health officials are investigating an incident involving the mishandling of the Ebola virus at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's headquarters in Atlanta.

The incident involved the material used in an experiment with the Ebola virus, the CDC said in a statement released late Wednesday. The material was accidentally moved from a high-security lab to a low-security lab on Monday. As a result, there's a possibility that one lab technician may have been exposed to the virus. That person will be monitored for 21 days for any symptoms.

Read more
Around the Nation
3:21 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

FDA Allows Gay Men To Donate Blood

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 5:26 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Shots - Health News
2:29 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Baby Thrives Once 3-D-Printed Windpipe Helps Him Breathe

Jake and Natalie Peterson and their son Garrett in October 2014.
Courtesy of Brittany Jacox

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 3:20 pm

Garrett Peterson was born in 2012 with a defective windpipe. It would periodically just collapse, because the cartilage was so soft, and he'd stop breathing. This would happen every day — sometimes multiple times a day.

"It was really awful to have to watch him go through his episodes," says his father, Jake Peterson of Layton, Utah. "He'd be fine and then all of a sudden start turning blue. It was just like watching your child suffocate over and over again."

Read more
Children's Health
4:02 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Teens Now Reach For E-Cigarettes Over Regular Ones

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 6:13 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

A study of the lives of American teenagers tells us this - more of them use electronic cigarettes than smoke traditional cigarettes.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Read more
Shots - Health News
11:07 am
Thu December 4, 2014

CDC Warns That The Flu Season May Be A Bad One

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, got his flu shot in September.
J. David Ake AP

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 6:21 pm

We may be in for a nasty flu season. That's the warning out today from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC is worried because the most common strain of flu virus circulating in the United States is one called H3N2. In previous years, H3N2 strains have tended to send more people to the hospital than other strains — and cause more deaths, especially among the elderly, children and people with other health problems.

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:43 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

FDA Considers Allowing Blood Donations From Some Gay Men

Several countries, including Australia, Japan and Great Britain, already encourage blood donations from some gay men.
Kevin Curtis Getty Images/Science Photo Library

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 10:50 am

The Food and Drug Administration is considering revising a ban on blood donations from men who have had sex with other men.

An FDA advisory committee Tuesday mulled the issues raised by changing the policy, which has been in effect since the early 1980s.

Read more
Health
4:24 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

Colorectal Cancer Cases Are Dropping — Except Among Young Adults

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 5:39 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Shots - Health News
12:16 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Treatment For HIV Runs Low In U.S., Despite Diagnosis

A pharmacist pours Truvada pills, an HIV treatment, back into the bottle at Jack's Pharmacy in San Anselmo, Calif.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 11:35 am

About two-thirds of Americans who are infected with the virus that causes AIDS aren't getting treated for it.

The finding comes from an analysis just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that more needs to be done to make sure people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus get proper treatment.

Read more
Children's Health
4:09 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Thousands Of Kids Sickened By Laundry Pods That Are Hard To Resist

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 11:37 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Detergent pods are dangerous for young children. That's the message out today from a group of poison experts. For the first time, the researchers documented the hazards posed by these increasingly popular products.

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:03 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Combining The DNA Of Three People Raises Ethical Questions

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 4:03 pm

In a darkened lab in the north of England, a research associate is intensely focused on the microscope in front of her. She carefully maneuvers a long glass tube that she uses to manipulate early human embryos.

"It's like microsurgery," says Laura Irving of Newcastle University.

Irving is part of a team of scientists trying to replace defective DNA with healthy DNA. They hope this procedure could one day help women who are carrying genetic disorders have healthy children.

Read more
Law
3:42 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Is It Legal To Quarantine Someone Who's Not Sick?

Originally published on Fri October 31, 2014 8:22 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The quarantines that some states are imposing to control Ebola are raising questions about how far government can go to control diseases. NPR's Rob Stein reports legal experts are debating whether states are exceeding their authority.

Read more
Global Health
3:32 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

CDC To Step Up Monitoring Of Travelers From Ebola-Affected Regions

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 5:28 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Health
3:02 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

CDC Releasing New Guidelines For Health Workers Treating Ebola

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 5:03 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Global Health
3:05 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Retracing Ebola's Steps

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 5:26 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Pages