Gabriel Spitzer

Health & Science Reporter / Assistant News Director

Gabriel Spitzer covers health and science at KPLU, after a year covering youth and education. He joined KPLU after years covering science, health and the environment at WBEZ in Chicago. There, he created the award-winning mini-show, Clever Apes. Having also lived in Alaska and California, Gabriel feels he’s been closing in on Seattle for some time, and has finally landed on the bullseye.

Gabriel received his Master's of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and his degree in English at Cornell University. He’s been honored with the Kavli Science Journalism Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and won awards from the Association of Health Care Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists and Public Radio News Directors, Inc. He lives in West Seattle with his wife Ashley and their two sons, Ezra and Oliver.

Gabriel’s most memorable KPLU moment was: “In just my second week here, I found myself covering the unfolding story of a mass shooting and citywide manhunt. It was a tragic and chaotic day, when the public badly needed someone to sort the facts from the rumors. It made me proud of our profession.”

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Bertha Blues
4:17 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Contractor: Evidence Could Put Taxpayers On The Hook For Bertha Cost Overruns

Seattle Tunnel Partners

Washington transportation officials and the private contractor operating the tunneling machine known as Bertha disagree on what’s holding up progress on the Highway 99 tunnel project. Neither had definitive answers, but appearing together Tuesday at a news conference, it became clear they’re leaning toward conflicting theories.

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Immigrant and Refugee Rights
5:01 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Advocates: Washington Must Ensure 'Basics Are Met' For Refugees And Immigrants

This photo shows a mother and child who participated in the 2013 rally.
James Hall Photography

Advocates plan to rally in Olympia Tuesday in what’s become an annual push for immigrant and refugee rights.

More than a dozen groups plans to make some noise on the Capitol steps and meet with lawmakers on several key issues: restoring previously-cut funds to food aid and job training, and investing in better English-language learner services in public schools.

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Bertha, The Boring Machine
2:27 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Bertha: Broken, Not Blocked, Says WSDOT

This screen grab shows a crew member clearing away clogging dirt from the cutterhead.
WSDOT

Remember that big steel pipe — eight inches wide, part of an old well?

The Washington State Department of Transportation never actually accused that pipe of blocking Bertha, but it was definitely a prime suspect.

But on Friday, WSDOT said the pipe isn’t, and never was, the problem.

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We Are The Champions
12:56 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Some 700,000 Fans Pack Seattle Streets For Seahawks' Victory Parade

Kam Chancellor holds up the Lombardi trophy.
Justin Steyer KPLU

The 12th Man showed up in full force for the Seattle Seahawks’ victory parade on Wednesday. Seattle police estimated some 700,000 people braved the cold to line the streets and cheer for the Super Bowl champions. 

"I think it just gives us a sense of pride. It's given everyone something to rally around and be excited about. It's just brought joy to so many people here," said Lesli Burns, a fan.

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Dark Matter
5:01 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Did UW Researchers Back The Right Horse In One Of Physics' Hottest Questions?

UW researchers assemble the complex ADMX detector, built to search for dark matter axions.
ADMX Collaboration

Think of the immense amount of stuff in the cosmos: stars, planets, interstellar dust and clusters of galaxies. Now consider this: all that stuff is probably only about one-sixth of the matter in the universe.

The rest is thought to be a mysterious invisible substance called dark matter — something scientists have been hunting for decades. Now an unexpected turn of events has put a low-key research team in Seattle right at the center of the dark matter search.

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Health Exchange
5:03 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Glitch Leaves Nearly A Thousand On The Hook For Promised Subsidies

File image
AP Photo

The federal subsidies are what’s supposed to make Obamacare work; people who wouldn’t be able to afford a decent health plan get help to offset the cost.

But nearly a thousand people who bought plans on Washington’s exchange have learned they’ll be on the hook for the full premium this month.  

About 950 people who were supposed to get retroactive coverage won’t have their promised subsidies discounted from their January bill. They’ll still get the money, but they’ll have to wait until they do their taxes in 2015.

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Harborview Clinics
5:01 am
Fri January 24, 2014

As Clinics Face Uncertain Future, Harborview Staffers Plead For Answers

Harborview Medical Center is considering changes in how it delivers primary care.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center is considering big changes in the way it delivers primary care, with clinics serving thousands of patients hanging in the balance. And frustrated staffers are pleading with hospital brass to explain what’s going on.

Harborview may be best known as the region’s trauma center, but it runs a handful of primary care clinics at its First Hill campus, offering services such as obstetrics, pediatrics and family medicine.

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Patient Safety
2:19 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Seattle Children's Patients At Risk Of Infection From Improperly-Cleaned Tools

Courtesy of Seattle Children's Hospital

Seattle Children’s Hospital is notifying about 100 patients who could be at risk of serious infection due to improperly-cleaned medical instruments.

Hospital officials say the risk is small, but substantial enough to warrant letters and phone calls to patients who had colonoscopies using a tool called an auxiliary channel scope. Unlike standard scopes, these instruments have an extra tube that needs to be cleaned between uses.

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Marijuana Business
3:34 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

I-502 Author Says Attorney General Got It Wrong On Pot Business Bans

Dozens of cities and counties have places bans or moratoriums on marijuana businesses.
Associated Press

Washington’s Attorney General buoyed local governments looking to block pot businesses with a legal opinion issued Thursday. His argument cites the intentions of those who wrote the state’s the pot law, but the initiative’s primary author said he got it wrong.

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Medicaid
3:38 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Glitches Put Tens of Thousands In Danger Of Losing Medicaid

File image
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Glitches that kept tens of thousands of Medicaid recipients from re-enrolling this fall continued to trip people up in December, though the state agency that runs Medicaid said the problems are being fixed.

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Public Transportation
2:27 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Constantine Announces Tax Proposal To Avoid Major Bus Cuts

King County Metro Transit's Facebook Page

King County is through waiting on Olympia.

The county is moving forward with its own measure to avoid major service cuts to Metro Transit, King County Executive Dow Constantine said on Tuesday.

“We waited and we waited, and now time is up,” Constantine said. “We are out of time for a statewide bill that includes a local transportation solution. It is time to move forward.”

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Brain Training
5:07 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

10 Hours Of Brain Training Keeps Elderly Sharper Even 10 Years Later, Study Finds

istockphoto.com

Scientists have long known that brain training can help older adults stay sharp, but a new study co-authored by a Seattle scientist shows those benefits also have remarkable staying power.

The advantages from just a little bit of training — about 10 total hours — can last at least a full decade, according to a large national study called the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly, or ACTIVE study. 

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Affordable Care Act
5:01 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Wash. Health Exchange Looking To Skew Younger

Elaine Thompson AP Photo

A diverse group of people have signed up for private health insurance on Washington's state-run exchange, but officials say they still need more young people on board. 

As of Jan. 2, some 71,205 people had enrolled in private plans on Washington's health insurance exchange, a good deal less than the goal of 130,000. But Exchange CEO Richard Onizuka said it’s still on the low end of the expected range.

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Public Health
2:16 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Study: Anti-Smoking Campaign Saved 5 Busloads Of People Every Day For 50 Years

File image
AP Photo

Fifty years ago this weekend, the U.S. surgeon general released a landmark report blaming smoking for a number of health risks.

A new study co-authored by Seattle researchers says the campaign against smoking has saved about eight million lives since. That’s more than the population of Washington state, or put another way, it’s like preventing about five full Metro buses from driving off a cliff every day for 50 years.

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Bertha, The Boring Machine
2:00 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

What's Blocking Bertha? Probably A Steel Pipe The State Put There, WSDOT Says

WSDOT

A steel pipe that the state Department of Transportation itself had installed back in 2002 sits in the way of Bertha underneath Seattle, WSDOT said on Friday, and it may be the cause of the weeks-long work stoppage.

An inspection on Jan. 2 “showed an 8-inch-diameter steel pipe protruding through one of the many openings in the cutterhead,” WSDOT said, adding the agency had installed the pipe, a well casing, in the wake of the 2001 Nisqually quake to better understand groundwater flow. 

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