Jon Hamilton

Jon Hamilton is a correspondent for NPR's Science Desk. Currently he focuses on neuroscience, health risks, and extreme weather.

Following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Hamilton was part of NPR's team of science reporters and editors who went to Japan to cover the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

Hamilton contributed several pieces to the Science Desk series "The Human Edge," which looked at what makes people the most versatile and powerful species on Earth. His reporting explained how humans use stories, how the highly evolved human brain is made from primitive parts, and what autism reveals about humans social brains.

In 2009, Hamilton received the Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Award for his piece on the neuroscience behind treating autism.

Before joining NPR in 1998, Hamilton was a media fellow with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation studying health policy issues. He reported on states that have improved their Medicaid programs for the poor by enrolling beneficiaries in private HMOs.

From 1995-1997, Hamilton wrote on health and medical topics as a freelance writer, after having been a medical reporter for both The Commercial Appeal and Physician's Weekly.

Hamilton graduated with honors from Oberlin College in Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. As a student, he was the editor of the Oberlin Review student newspaper. He earned his master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, where he graduated with honors During his time at Columbia, Hamilton was awarded the Baker Prize for magazine writing and earned a Sherwood traveling fellowship.

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4:23am

Mon October 20, 2014
Goats and Soda

Ebola In Church: A Reverend's Quarantine Spreads The Word

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 9:26 am

The Rev. Herman Browne voluntarily quarantined himself for 21 days after his wife's friend tested positive for Ebola. On Sunday, he returned to his church, Trinity Cathedral, to preach to his congregation about Ebola prevention.
Jon Hamilton NPR

Night clubs have shut their doors. Soccer leagues have been suspended. And a strict curfew is keeping the streets empty at night.

But there's one place in Monrovia where people continue to gather despite the threat of Ebola: Sunday church service.

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5:06pm

Tue September 30, 2014
Shots - Health News

BRAIN Initiative Bets on Wearable Scanners, Laser-Controlled Cells

Originally published on Thu October 2, 2014 11:46 am

Andrew Ostrovsky iStockphoto

Eighteen months after its launch, President Obama's plan to explore the mysteries of the human brain is finally taking shape. During separate events Tuesday, the White House and National Institutes of Health offered details about which projects are being funded and why.

At a morning press conference, NIH officials announced $46 million in grant awards to more than 100 investigators. Most of the researchers are working on tools that can "transform how we study the brain," said NIH Director Francis Collins.

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3:26am

Mon September 29, 2014
Shots - Health News

A Doctor Unlocks Mysteries Of The Brain By Talking And Watching

Originally published on Mon September 29, 2014 3:23 pm

Dr. Allan Ropper speaks with residents and fellows as they do rounds at the neuroscience intensive care unit at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
M. Scott Brauer for NPR

The heavyset man with a bandage on his throat is having trouble repeating a phrase. "No ifs ..." he says to the medical students and doctors around his bed at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

"Can I hear you say no ifs, ands or buts?" says Dr. Allan Ropper, the Harvard neurologist in charge. The patient tries again. "No ifs, buts, ands or," he says.

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3:34am

Tue September 23, 2014
Shots - Health News

Death Cuts Short The Life Of An Alzheimer's Research Volunteer

Originally published on Mon September 29, 2014 4:45 pm

Justin McCowan poses for a portrait outside of his house in Santa Monica, Calif., on Aug. 14.
Benjamin B. Morris for NPR

If you're a regular Shots reader or Morning Edition listener, you may remember a recent story about Justin McCowan, a man with Down syndrome who wanted to help researchers find a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. McCowan died in his sleep on Thursday at his home in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 40.

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5:49pm

Thu September 18, 2014
Cities Project

A Coastal Paradise Confronts Its Watery Future

Originally published on Thu September 18, 2014 6:59 pm

Half the land in the city of Satellite Beach is only 6 feet above the waterline.
Jon Hamilton NPR

Dan Reiter, 37, is a long-board surfer and contractor who used to live in Tampa, Fla. Then he discovered the surf breaks along a stretch of coast south of Cape Canaveral. "It's one of the most beautiful places in the world to live and surf and raise your kids," says Reiter, 37, as we watch head-high waves roll into Hightower Beach.

But there's trouble in this coastal paradise. It's on a low-lying barrier island that's getting lower as sea level rises. So the cities here are looking for ways to keep the water at bay or retreat from it.

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3:25am

Mon August 25, 2014
Shots - Health News

People With Down Syndrome Are Pioneers In Alzheimer's Research

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 8:53 am

Justin McCowan, 39, has Down syndrome and lives at home with his parents in Santa Monica, Calif.
Benjamin B. Morris for NPR

When researchers at the University of California, San Diego wanted to study an experimental Alzheimer's drug last year, they sought help from an unlikely group: people with Down syndrome.

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3:43am

Wed August 6, 2014
NPR Ed

Scientists Say Child's Play Helps Build A Better Brain

Originally published on Thu August 14, 2014 6:40 pm

This week, NPR Ed is focusing on questions about why people play and how play relates to learning.

When it comes to brain development, time in the classroom may be less important than time on the playground.

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3:41pm

Mon August 4, 2014
Shots - Health News

Oxytocin Isn't Lacking In Children With Autism, Researchers Say

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 12:22 pm

The hormone oxytocin affects social functioning, but researchers say it isn't commonly lacking in children with autism.
danchooalex/iStockphoto

Scratch one more simple explanation for autism off the list. This time it's the idea that children with autism have low levels of oxytocin, often called the "love hormone" because it can make people more trusting and social.

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3:27am

Thu July 10, 2014
Shots - Health News

Bingeing On Bad News Can Fuel Daily Stress

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 3:34 pm

Katherine Streeter for NPR

If you're feeling stressed these days, the news media may be partly to blame.

At least that's the suggestion of a national survey conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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4:06pm

Tue June 17, 2014
Shots - Health News

Your Brain's Got Rhythm, And Syncs When You Think

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 4:47 pm

"Dance for PD" classes use music to temporarily ease tremors and get Parkinson's patients moving.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Even if you can't keep a beat, your brain can. "The brain absolutely has rhythm," says Nathan Urban, a neuroscientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

When you concentrate, Urban says, your brain produces rapid, rhythmic electrical impulses called gamma waves. When you relax, it generates much slower alpha waves.

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