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.

Since 2003, strict rules have limited how long medical residents can work without a break. The rules are supposed to minimize the risk that these doctors-in-training will make mistakes that threaten patients' safety because of fatigue. But are these rules really the best for new doctors and their patients? There's been intense debate over that and some say little data to resolve the question. So a group of researchers decided to follow thousands of medical residents at dozens of hospitals...

Global warming isn't the only vexing issue the world wrestled with this week. While delegates gathered in Paris to discuss climate change, the International Summit on Human Gene Editing convened in Washington, D.C., to debate another conundrum: How far should scientists go when editing human DNA? The main focus was whether scientists should be allowed to use powerful new genetic engineering techniques to edit genes in human eggs, sperm or embryos — an extremely controversial step that raises...

Throughout history, atrocities have been committed in the name of medical research. Nazi doctors experimented on concentration camp prisoners. American doctors let poor black men with syphilis go untreated in the Tuskegee study . The list goes on. To protect people participating in medical research, the federal government decades ago put in place strict rules on the conduct of human experiments. Now the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing a major revision of these regulations...

One of the most intense debates in men's health has flared again: How often should men get screened for prostate cancer? This debate has simmered since 2012, when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force shocked many patients and doctors by recommending against routine prostate cancer screening. Some doctors welcomed the change by the influential panel of experts, saying it would save many men from experiencing false alarms and potentially serious complications of unnecessary treatment. Others...

An intense debate has flared over whether the federal government should fund research that creates partly human creatures using human stem cells. The National Institutes of Health declared a moratorium in late September on funding this kind of research. NIH officials said they needed to assess the science and to evaluate the ethical and moral questions it raises. As part of that assessment, the NIH is holding a daylong workshop Friday. Meanwhile, some prominent scientists worry that the NIH...

Biologist Ethan Bier runs a laboratory at the University of California, San Diego where fruit flies are used to help unravel the processes that lead to some human diseases. One day recently, a graduate student in the lab called him over to take a look at the results of the latest experiment. Bier was stunned by what he saw. "It was one of the most astounding days in my personal scientific career," Bier says. "When he first showed me, I could not believe it." His student, Valentino Gantz , had...

A decades-long decline in the death rate of middle-aged white Americans has reversed in recent years, according to a surprising new analysis released Monday. The cause of the reversal remains unclear. Researchers speculate it might be the result of the bad economy fueling a rise in suicides, plus overdoses from prescription painkillers and illegal drugs like heroin, and alcohol abuse. "That could be just a volatile mix that could set off something like this," says Angus Deaton , a professor...

It's become an emotional debate: Do e-cigarettes help people get off regular cigarettes or are they a new avenue for addiction? Until now, there has been little solid evidence to back up either side. But a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could help fill that void. E-cigarettes work by heating up a fluid that contains the drug nicotine, producing a vapor that users inhale. The CDC found that nearly 48 percent of current tobacco smokers said they had tried e...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: We have major news today about how women should be screened for breast cancer. For the first time in more than a decade, the American Cancer Society is changing its recommendations. And NPR health correspondent Rob Stein is here to talk about it. What’s the recommendation? ROB STEIN, BYLINE: Well, Steve, you know, for years, the Cancer Society’s been telling women that once they hit 40, they should go...

Most women don't need to start getting an annual mammogram to screen for breast cancer until they turn 45, according to the latest guidelines from the American Cancer Society. Previously, the society recommended women start annual mammograms at 40 and continue every year for as long they remained in good health. The new recommendations also say women can cut mammograms back to every two years once they turn 55 — if they have an average risk for breast cancer. These women can continue that...

Tens of thousands of Americans are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for problems caused by dietary supplements, federal health officials are reporting. The complications include heart problems such as irregular or rapid heartbeat or chest pain, says Dr. Andrew Geller of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , who led the study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine . Two other big problems are children ingesting supplements purchased...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksU6qudLy0I For the first time, primitive human kidneys have been created in a laboratory dish, by using stem cells. Although the kidneys cannot perform the functions of a fully formed adult kidney, the researchers hope the achievement will someday lead to new ways to treat people suffering from kidney failure. "It's really exciting," says Melissa Little , who heads the Kidney Research Laboratory at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Australia. She led...

Women with cancer often lose their fertility after chemotherapy and radiation. But fertility can be restored in some women by removing all or part the ovary, freezing the tissue before cancer treatment and then transplanting it back afterward. Danish researchers looked at 41 women who underwent the procedure between 2003 and 2014. They found that about one-third who tried to have a baby actually succeeded. It's the largest number of transplants evaluated since doctors started doing the...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: Scientists from the United States, Japan and China today won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The three researchers won for discovering drugs used to treat parasitic diseases that affect millions of people each year. NPR's health correspondent Rob Stein joins us now with the details. Good morning. ROB STEIN, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee. MONTAGNE: All right, so names and countries please...

The composition of the microbes living in babies' guts appears to play a role in whether the children develop asthma later on, researchers reported Wednesday. The researchers sampled the microbes living in the digestive tracts of 319 babies, and followed up on the children to see if there was a relationship between their microbes and their risk for the breathing disorder. In the journal Science Translational Medicine , the researchers report Wednesday that those who had low levels of...

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