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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Shots - Health News
10:29 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Insurance Cancellations: The Price Of Mending A Broken System?

iStockphoto.com

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

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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Health Care
4:02 am
Tue November 5, 2013

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 โ€” especially since most of these people can't get onto the healthcare.gov website to figure out their options for 2014.

Shots - Health News
11:47 am
Thu October 31, 2013

AIDS Scientists Encouraged By Antibodies That Hit Monkey Virus

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

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

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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Shots - Health News
5:21 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

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

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

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

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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Shots - Health News
3:12 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Haitian Cholera Strain Spreads To Mexico

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 countryโ€” the same one that first appeared in Haiti three years ago โ€” has also caused outbreaks in Cuba and now Mexico.
Erika Santelices AFP/Getty Images

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

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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Shots - Health News
12:01 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

To Prevent HIV Infection, Couples Try Testing Together

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

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

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 โ€” gay men โ€” 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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Shots - Health News
2:52 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

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

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

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

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

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Research News
4:37 am
Tue October 8, 2013

First Malaria Vaccine Moves A Step Closer To Approval

A health worker administers the malaria vaccine at a clinical trial in Kilifi, Kenya.
Joseph Okanga Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 1:50 pm

A malaria vaccine studied in more than 15,000 African children has been found to reduce the number of cases of disease by 27 to 46 percent.

That's only modest efficacy compared to most accepted vaccines. But this would be the first anti-malarial immunization on the market, and its developers emphasize that it still prevents a lot of cases. Its main sponsor, GlaxoSmithKline, says it's good enough to justify seeking regulatory approval in 2014.

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Shots - Health News
6:37 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Some Online Journals Will Publish Fake Science, For A Fee

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

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

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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Shots - Health News
3:23 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Lessons For The Obamacare Rollout, Courtesy Of Massachusetts

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

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

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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Shots - Health News
12:39 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

For A Price, Volunteers Endure Scientists' Flu Spritzes

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

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

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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Shots - Health News
1:41 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

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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Shots - Health News
9:16 am
Fri September 20, 2013

Even As MERS Epidemic Grows, The Source Eludes Scientists

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

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

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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Shots - Health News
12:39 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

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 โ€” low-fat diets, exercise, reducing stress โ€” 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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Shots - Health News
8:02 am
Sun September 15, 2013

Deadly Amoeba Found For First Time In Municipal Water Supply

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

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

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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Shots - Health News
8:52 am
Wed September 11, 2013

Fast Tests For Drug Resistance Bolster Malaria Fight

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

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

Malaria researchers have developed what they consider a crucial advance: Simple and fast tests that can tell when parasites have become resistant to the front-line drug against malaria.

Taken together, these tests give humans a new tool to counter the malaria parasite's ability to outwit every drug that's ever been devised against it.

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Shots - Health News
3:03 am
Sun September 1, 2013

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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Shots - Health News
5:05 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

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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Shots - Health News
6:03 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Vaccinating Babies For Rotavirus Protects The Whole Family

An artistic illustration of the rotavirus.
petersimoncik iStockPhoto.com

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

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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Shots - Health News
12:46 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

More Stroke Patients Now Get Clot-Busting Drug

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

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

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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