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 Blog
4:37 pm
Fri June 22, 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 4:39 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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Shots - Health Blog
5:29 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Scientists Find New Wrinkle In How Cholera Got To Haiti

A Haitian protester in Port-au-Prince last year spray-paints a wall, equating the UN mission in Haiti (abbreviated here as MINISTA) with cholera.
Thony Belizaire/AFP/Getty Images

Most researchers currently believe that United Nations peacekeeping soldiers introduced cholera to Haiti in October of 2010.

After all, Haiti hadn't recorded cholera for as long as a century, Nepal had experienced a cholera epidemic in the months preceding the soldiers' arrival, and the Haitian and Nepalese cholera strains were found to be nearly identical.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:41 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 9:35 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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Shots - Health Blog
5:04 pm
Wed June 6, 2012

Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis A 'Serious Epidemic' In China

Gao Weiwei, a doctor of the Beijing Chest Hospital which specializes in the treatment of tuberculosis, talks to a patient suspected to have tuberculosis at the hospital in Tongzhou, near Beijing, March 27, 2009.
Ng Han Guan AP

China's first national survey of tuberculosis has produced some of the worst TB news in years.

Out of the million Chinese who develop TB every year, researchers say at least 110,000 get a form that's resistant to the mainstay drugs isoniazid and rifampin. Patients with such multidrug-resistant or MDR tuberculosis have to be treated for up to two years with expensive second-line drugs that are toxic and less effective.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:57 am
Thu May 31, 2012

Sick in America: Hispanics Grapple With Cost And Quality Of Care

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 2:27 pm

In our recent poll on what it means to be sick in America, one ethnic group stands out as having special problems – Hispanic Americans.

The national survey, conducted by NPR with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, sheds new light on Hispanics' health issues. It runs counter to the widespread impression that African-Americans are worst-off when it comes to the cost and quality of health care.

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Shots - Health Blog
7:29 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Counterfeiters Exploit Shortage To Market Fake Adderall Pills

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 8:48 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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Shots - Health Blog
3:22 pm
Mon May 28, 2012

With PSA Testing, The Power Of Anecdote Often Trumps Statistics

Originally published on Tue May 29, 2012 9:46 am

Millions of men and their doctors are trying to understand a federal task force's recommendation against routine use of a prostate cancer test called the PSA.

The guidance, which came out last week, raises basic questions about how to interpret medical evidence. And what role expert panels should play in how doctors practice.

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Shots - Health Blog
6:01 pm
Tue May 22, 2012

Easier Colon Cancer Test Works Well, But Colonoscopy's Still King

A big study of a colon cancer test called flexible sigmoidoscopy may provide a good example of how a cheaper, easier-on-the-patient and possibly better technology isn't always the one American doctors choose to use.

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Shots - Health Blog
8:31 pm
Mon May 21, 2012

All Routine PSA Tests For Prostate Cancer Should End, Task Force Says

Terry Dyroff, at home in Silver Spring, Md., got a PSA blood test that led to a prostate biopsy. The biopsy found no cancer, but it gave him a life-threatening infection.
Jose Luis Magana AP

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 2:33 pm

There they go again — those 17 federally appointed experts at the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force are telling American doctors and patients to stop routinely doing lifesaving tests.

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Medical Treatments
6:46 pm
Mon May 21, 2012

Task Force: Men Don't Need Regular Prostate Tests

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 7:00 pm

A federal task force has concluded that men over 50 don't need a regular blood test for prostate cancer. Millions of men get the test every year. The task force says too many unnecessary treatments are being performed because of the test.

Shots - Health Blog
12:33 am
Mon May 21, 2012

Poll: What It's Like To Be Sick In America

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 8:21 pm

In the lull between the Supreme Court arguments over the federal health overhaul law and the decision expected in June, we thought we'd ask Americans who actually use the health system quite a bit how they view the quality of care and its cost.

Most surveys don't break it down this way.

When the results came back, we found that people who have a serious medical condition or who've been in the hospital in the past year tended to have more concerns about costs and quality than people who aren't sick. No big surprise there.

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Shots - Health Blog
6:10 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

U.S. Funding Of HIV/AIDS Fight Overseas Carries Other Benefits

A mother and child wait to receive treatment at the HIV clinic in Nyagasambu, Rwanda, in Feb. 2008. The clinic was built by the Washington-based Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation with a grant from the PEPFAR program.
Shashank Bengali MCT/Landov

U.S. government spending to fight HIV/AIDS in developing countries is also preventing death from other diseases, a new study finds.

Some experts worry the billions of dollars the United States spends to treat people with HIV in poor countries may crowd out prevention and treatment of other illnesses.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:14 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

A Step Forward For Gene Therapy To Treat HIV

HIV particles assemble at the surface of a white blood cell called a macrophage.
PLoS Biology

Millions of people around the world are living with HIV, thanks to drug regimens that suppress the virus. Now there's a new push to eliminate HIV from patients' bodies altogether. That would be a true cure.

We're not there yet. But a report in Science Translational Medicine is an encouraging signpost that scientists may be headed in the right direction.

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Shots - Health Blog
8:38 am
Tue May 1, 2012

Lighter Weights Can Still Make A Big Fitness Difference

Try taking some weight off in your workout.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue May 1, 2012 1:30 pm

Here's good news for geezers — or for merely middle-aged folks — who'd like to stay fit and independent far into their later years.

You don't have to lift heavy weights to build muscle strength. Lifting lighter weights can be just as effective if you do it right, and you're much less likely to hurt yourself, researchers say.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:33 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

Couples Should Get Tested For HIV Together, WHO Says

What do you say we go get HIV tested together?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 10:05 am

The World Health Organization is telling couples around the world to get tested together to see if either is infected with HIV.

If one of them is, that partner should start treatment with anti-HIV drugs – even if it's not yet medically necessary.

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Shots - Health Blog
5:05 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

Doctors Group Tells Patients To Go For Cheaper, High-Value Treatments

Got a backache? You can probably skip that pricey scan.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 10:30 am

The American College of Physicians is urging patients with newly diagnosed diabetes and back pain not to opt for the latest-and-supposedly-greatest.

It's part of a new campaign to steer patients (and their doctors) to what the College of Physicians calls "high value care," and away from expensive tests and treatments that aren't any better — and often are worse.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:28 am
Tue April 17, 2012

Sebelius To Lend Support To Vaccination Projects In Haiti

Rice farmer Alexi Rochnel shows his blank cholera vaccination card. April is the beginning of Haiti's rainy season, which will likely intensify Haiti's cholera outbreak.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 12:34 pm

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is in Haiti today to support two big vaccination initiatives.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:19 am
Fri April 13, 2012

Port-Au-Prince: A City Of Millions, With No Sewer System

A makeshift latrine hangs over the water at the edge of Cite de Dieu, a slum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
John W. Poole / NPR

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 5:55 pm

Port-au-Prince is about the size of Chicago. But it doesn't have a sewer system. It's one of the largest cities in the world without one.

That's a big problem, but never more so than during a time of cholera.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:15 am
Thu April 12, 2012

Water In The Time Of Cholera: Haiti's Most Urgent Health Problem

Marlene Lucien controls the hose that fills people's plastic buckets on one busy street corner in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
John Poole NPR

Originally published on Mon April 16, 2012 12:40 pm

In the teeming city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, millions of people have no reliable water supply.

Many of the underground pipes that did exist were ruptured by the 2010 earthquake. Many public water kiosks are dry.

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Shots - Health Blog
10:22 am
Tue April 10, 2012

Analysis Finds Lung Cancer Screening Worthwhile For Longtime Smokers

Dr. Steven Birnbaum positions a patient inside a CT scanner at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua, N.H., in June 2010.
Jim Cole AP

Now there's fresh evidence that CT scans to detect early lung cancer belong on the short list of effective cancer screening technologies — at least for people at high risk.

Researchers conclude that spiral CT, which makes 3-D pictures of lungs, could reduce lung cancer deaths by 35 percent at a cost of $19,000 to $26,000 per year of life saved.

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