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
1:33 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

Vaccine Against HPV Has Cut Infections In Teenage Girls

A 13-year-old girl gets an HPV vaccination from Judith Schaechter, a pediatrician at the University of Miami, in 2011.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 7:18 pm

A vaccine against human papillomavirus — the most common sexually transmitted infection and the cause of almost all cervical cancer — is dramatically reducing the prevalence of HPV in teenage girls.

The first vaccine against HPV, Merck's Gardasil, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006. Cerverix, from GlaxoSmithKline, was approved in 2009.

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Shots - Health News
11:40 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Middle East Virus Spreads Between Hospitalized Patients

The new coronavirus has a crown of tentacles on its surface when viewed under the microscope.
NIAID/RML

Originally published on Mon May 13, 2013 11:06 am

It's been eight months since a Saudi Arabian doctor described a previously unknown virus related to SARS. And for most of that time only germ geeks paid much attention.

But in the past few days the new virus — which some would like to call MERS-CoV, for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus — has been making up for lost time.

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Shots - Health News
5:11 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Researchers Find Hormone That Grows Insulin-Producing Cells

A microscopy image of a rat pancreas shows the insulin-making cells in green.
Masur Wikimedia.org

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 2:04 pm

The work is only in mice so far, but it sure is intriguing.

A newly found hormone revs up production of cells that make insulin — the very kind that people with advanced diabetes lack.

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marathon bombing
9:35 am
Tue April 16, 2013

Boston doctors compare marathon bomb injuries to war wounds

Medical personnel work outside the medical tent in the aftermath of two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday. At area hospitals, doctors say they were confronted with the kinds of injuries U.S. troops get in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Elise Amendola AP

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 8:26 am

Boston hospitals always staff up their emergency rooms on Marathon Day to care for runners with cramps, dehydration and the occasional heart attack.

But Monday, those hospitals suddenly found themselves with more than 100 traumatized patients — many of them with the kinds of injuries seen more often on a battlefield than a marathon.

Like most big-city hospitals these days, Tufts Medical Center runs regular disaster drills, featuring simulated patients smeared with fake blood.

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Shots - Health News
3:17 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

Human cases of bird flu in China draw scrutiny

A cockerel walks on a bridge in a residential area of Beijing. The Chinese are beginning to destroy thousands of birds in an effort to stamp out the presumed source of H7N9 infection.
Wang Zhao AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 3:09 pm

Sixteen cases of a new flu around Shanghai have touched off a major effort to determine what kind of threat this new bug might be.

The victims range in age from 4 to 87 years old. Six have died. It is a tragedy for them and their families, but is it a global crisis?

To understand why so few cases are generating so much concern, the first thing to know is that no flu virus like this one — called H7N9 — has ever been known to infect humans before.

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Health
9:15 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Aspirin Vs. Melanoma: Study Suggests Headache Pill Prevents Deadly Skin Cancer

A doctor checks for signs of skin cancer at a free cancer screening day in New York City.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 7:22 am

It's not the first study that finds the lowly aspirin may protect against the deadliest kind of skin cancer, but it is one of the largest.

And it adds to a mounting pile of studies suggesting that cheap, common aspirin lowers the risk of many cancers — of the colon, breast, esophagus, stomach, prostate, bladder and ovary.

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Shots - Health News
3:06 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

SARS-Like Virus Found In Jordan, Hunt Is On For Other Cases

Originally published on Sat December 1, 2012 6:46 am

The World Health Organization says a new coronavirus has killed two people in Jordan — the third country where the novel microbe has been traced.

That brings lab-confirmed cases to nine, with five fatalities.

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Shots - Health Blog
5:12 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Rare Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Spreads To Six States

The fungus Aspergillus niger shows up as a black mold on decaying vegetation and food.
Dr. Lucille K. Georg CDC

Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 6:33 am

It's a troubling story authorities think will unfold over the next month or so. An untold number of Americans who got steroid injections in their spine to relieve back pain may end up with a rare fungal meningitis. The drug was contaminated with the spores of a common leaf mold — nobody knows how.

So far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded 35 cases of the fungal meningitis in six states: Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Maryland and Indiana. Five patients have died.

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Shots - Health Blog
8:47 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Scientists Parse Genes Of Breast Cancer's Four Major Types

Scientists say a new report in the journal Nature provides a big leap in the understanding of how different types of breast cancer differ.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 7:46 am

Scientists have known for a while that breast cancer is really four different diseases, with subtypes among them, an insight that has helped improve treatment for some women.

But experts haven't understood much about how these four types differ. A new report, published online in the journal Nature, provides a big leap in that understanding.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:32 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Kids Of Older Fathers Likelier To Have Genetic Ailments

Older dads add more genetic mutations to the family tree.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon August 27, 2012 6:57 am

Scientists have found solid evidence that older men have more random mutations in their sperm cells. They're warning that can cause autism, schizophrenia and a long list of other genetic diseases in their offspring.

The new report, in the journal Nature, comes from deCODE Genetics, an Icelandic firm that studied the entire genomes of 78 families involving 219 individuals.

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NPR health
7:07 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Oldest Americans living longer, and are fitter and richer, too

The latest data paint a brighter picture of aging in America.
Lisa F. Young iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 6:42 am

America's oldest citizens are generally getting healthier, living longer and doing better financially. But there's lots of room for improvement.

That's the take-home from an exhaustive picture of Americans over 65 put together by the federal government and released last week during the summer doldrums.

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AIDS research
5:10 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Two More Nearing AIDS 'Cure' After Bone Marrow Transplants, Doctors Say

Timothy Ray Brown, shown in May 2011 with his dog Jack in San Francisco, is the only man ever known to have been fully cured from AIDS. Brown is known as the "Berlin patient" because he had a bone marrow transplant in a German hospital five years ago.
Eric Risberg AP

Originally published on Fri July 27, 2012 10:28 am

The so-called Berlin patient is famously the only person in the world who has been cured of HIV. But he may soon have company.

Two people in Boston also seem to be free of HIV after undergoing bone marrow transplants for cancer, just as the Berlin patient did five years ago. The crucial difference is that the Boston patients have not yet stopped taking anti-HIV drugs — although that may happen in the coming months.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:17 am
Sat June 23, 2012

Drug-Resistant Germ In Rhode Island Hospital Raises Worries

Pretty to look at, almost, but Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria these are a common cause of infections in hospitals.
CDC

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 1:39 pm

A highly resistant form of a common bacterium recently popped up in two Rhode Island patients, only the 12th and 13th times it has been spotted in this country.

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NPR health
8:51 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Traces Of Virus In Man Cured Of HIV Trigger Scientific Debate

Timothy Ray Brown, widely known in research circles as the Berlin patient, was cured of his HIV infection by bone marrow transplants. Now scientists are trying to make sense of the traces of HIV they've found in some cells of his body.
Richard Knox NPR

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 6:35 am

Top AIDS scientists are scratching their heads about new data from the most famous HIV patient in the world — at least to people in the AIDS community.

Timothy Ray Brown, known as the Berlin patient, is thought to be the first patient ever to be cured of HIV infection.

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Fake drugs
6:54 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Fake Adderall pills hit the market

If the label of ingredients on the Adderall pack says "singel entity," that's a tip-off for trouble.
FDA/Flickr

Originally published on Wed May 30, 2012 5:48 am

A shortage of Adderall began last year, sending millions of people with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy on perpetual wild goose chases to find drugstores with the pills they need to stay alert and focused.

So it's not surprising that Adderall counterfeiters have seized a big marketing opportunity. What is surprising is their clumsiness.

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