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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Marijuana Tourism
5:11 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Seattle City Attorney Seeks Ways to Accomodate Marijuana Tourists

Associated Press

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holes said he is working on ways to accommodate “marijuana tourists” who might face barriers to partaking in legal pot.

Holmes pointed out to a Seattle City Council committee that rules banning consumption in public, which he supports, could make it harder for out-of-towners to participate. Most of those people would presumable stay in hotels, where smoking is banned.

“We need to recognize that tourists coming to this state to sample wines, to sample Washington marijuana, to sample any of the attributes of this destination city, that we accommodate them somehow,” he said.

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Human-Animal Health
5:01 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Treating the Cow to Save the Kid: Where Human and Animal Health Intersect

Dr. Peter Rabinowitz will study how livestock and children affect each other's health.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Peter Rabinowitz speaks with KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer

People fighting hunger in the developing world have noticed a troubling mystery: malnourished children sometimes fail to get healthier even when given a lot of extra nutrients.

The key to helping them may be to focus not on the kids, but on their cows, according to a team led by a University of Washington professor.

The researchers from UW, Washington State University and CDC-Kenya just received a Gates Foundation grant to examine the values of a holistic approach—one that focuses on the intersection of human, animal and environmental health.

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Organic Food
2:00 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Organic Milk More Nutritious than Regular Milk, WSU Study Finds

Cows who graze on grass and pasture forage may give milk with healthier fats than conventionally raised cattle.
adstream Flickr

Organic dairy products may have a major nutritional advantage over conventional milk, Washington researchers have found in a study that could affect the ongoing debate about the health benefits of organics.

A Washington State University-led team studied about 400 samples of whole milk, both traditionally-produced and organic, and found a key difference in the balance of fatty acids. Organic milk seems to have a much higher proportion of omega-3s compared with omega-6s.

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Same-Sex Marriages
11:50 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Gay Weddings Make Up 17 Percent of Wash. State Marriages

Retired U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Nancy Monahan, right, wears her dress uniform as she leans to kiss her soon-to-be bride Deb Needham while they wait at Seattle City Hall to become among the first gay couples to legally wed in Washington.
Elaine Thompson Associated Press

It’s been a year since the first same-sex couples married in Washington State, and since then about one marriage in six has joined partners of the same sex.

New data from the Washington Department of Health begins to fill out what has changed since December 5, 2012. Some 7,071 same-sex couples have been married in Washington through September 30th, according to the most recent data available from the state Department of Health.

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biotechnology
2:07 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Research Groups Team Up to Fight Cancer with 'Ninja Warrior T-Cells'

File image
Gerry Broome AP Photo

Seattle researchers and investors are making a massive bet on a new cancer-fighting technology.

The new startup, called Juno Therapeutics, is working on ways to take T-cells out of a patient’s body and genetically engineer them to attack his or her specific tumor.

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Martian Chronicles
3:10 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Martian Mystery: How Water Could Have Flowed on Chilly Mars

A NASA photo shows gully channels on teh surface of Mars, thought to have been caused by flowing water.
NASA

A University of Washington researcher may have helped solve a Martian mystery by explaining how the chilly surface of Mars could have once flowed with water.

Pictures of Mars clearly show features that look like valleys and old lakebeds, suggesting liquid water once churned on the planet's surface. And yet that surface is really cold, at -80 degrees Fahrenheit, on average.

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Military Families
9:34 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Patty Murray Twists Arms Over Military Families' Health Coverage

Josie and Teagan Fort were both prescribed Applied Behavior Analysis, but only one is covered by military insurance.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Some military families can’t get treatment for their children with developmental disabilities, even if it’s prescribed by a doctor. Washington’s senior senator hopes to force a change, even though her efforts have fallen short once before.

The controversy revolves around a therapy called Applied Behavior Analysis, which is widely used to treat children with autism by reinforcing desired behaviors. Tricare, the military insurance provider, does cover it for children diagnosed on the autism spectrum. But the therapy is being prescribed more and more to children with other disabilities, and those populations are not covered.

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Philanthropy
4:59 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Secret Millionaire Leaves Massive Gift to Seattle Charities

Jack MacDonald
Seattle Children's Hospital

Three Seattle-area organizations will split a massive charitable gift of $187.6 million, thanks to one generous donor. Seattle Children’s Hospital, the University of Washington School of Law and the Salvation Army call it the biggest gift given in the state this year, and the sixth largest nationwide.

The donor is Jack MacDonald, who died in September at age 98. He inherited a fortune built by his father’s MacDonald Meats company. 

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Snow Science
5:01 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Strange Snow Finding Suggests Fewer Trees Mean More Water

UW reserahcres found that in temperate climates, snow melts faster under trees than in clearings.
Kael Martin University of Washington

Quick quiz: In springtime, does snow melt faster out in the open or in the shade? 

You might figure it melts faster in the sunshine, and that seems to be the case for cold climates. But in places with temperate winters, like the Pacific Northwest, it might be just the opposite.

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Affordable Care Act
4:02 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Lawmakers Chide Kriedler for Declining Health Care Extension

Associated Press

Washington’s Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is getting an earful from lawmakers over his decision not to grant relief to people losing their health plans next month.

President Barack Obama, to make good on a promise that had begun to ring hollow, said he’d allow those losing their coverage to keep it for a year. But Kreidler declined the fix, calling it a bad fit for Washington.

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Affordable Care Act
9:49 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

On Wash. Health Exchange, Strong Numbers and Some Anxiety

Washington Health Benefits Exchange CEO Richard Onizuka is optimistic about early enrollment.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Washington’s new health insurance exchange has been touting its strong enrollment numbers, especially in comparison to the deeply-troubled federal exchange. But members of the board overseeing the exchange are starting to express some anxiety about meeting their signup goals.

The exchange reports 98,399 enrollments, as of mid-November. But the vast majority, 88 percent, are enrolled in the government-sponsored Medicaid program. The state needs to get many more people into private qualified health plans, or QHPs, to create a functioning market.

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Education
3:00 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Four Arrested for Trespassing at Vacant Horace Mann School

Florangela Davila KPLU

Seattle police have arrested four people occupying the vacant Horace Mann school in Seattle's Central District. Some activists inside had refused to leave the building even after they were warned against trespassing on school district property.

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Affordable Care Act
5:01 am
Mon November 18, 2013

For the 'Unbanked' in Wash., a Barrier to Accessing Obamacare

Patrick Semansky Associated Press

Washington’s health exchange has been a bright spot in the slipshod rollout of Obamacare, but one requirement for signing up could be a barrier to the very people the new law is supposed to serve.

To sign up for coverage on WAHealthPlanFinder.org, you have to make your first payment by credit card, debit card or electronic funds transfer from a bank account.

But recent studies show about one-fourth of Washington households are either “unbanked” with no access to an account, or “underbanked" with limited access. The number of those affected is even higher in low-income and minority communities to which many of the exchange’s target audience belong.

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Happy Accidents
3:31 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Chance Finding at WSU Lights Up Possibilities in Physics, Computing

Researcher Marianne Tarun seals an ampoule containing a unique crystal.
Washington State University

An accidental breakthrough by Washington State University researchers might someday lead to much more powerful computers.

It began when graduate student Marianne Tarun was working with a particular kind of crystal, strontium titanate, in a WSU physics lab. The crystal has strange electrical properties, which interests engineers and computer scientists.

One day she discovered, to her surprise, that something had changed.

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Affordable Care Act
2:05 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

No Health Care Policy Extensions in Wash. State

File image
Ted S. Warren Associated Press

Washington state’s insurance commissioner says he will not allow companies to extend canceled policies. State commissioners are able to overrule the concession President Barack Obama announced Thursday.

Commissioner Mike Kreidler said allowing people to keep their old plans would warp the whole marketplace.

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