Rob Stein

Rob Stein is a correspondent and senior editor on NPR's science desk.

In his reporting, Stein focuses on the intersection of science, health, politics, social trends, ethics, and federal science policy. He tracks genetics, stem cells, cancer research, the obesity epidemic, and other science, medical, and health policy news.

Before NPR, Stein served as The Washington Post's science editor and national health reporter for 16 years, editing and then covering stories nationally and internationally.

Earlier in his career, Stein spent about four years at NPR's science desk. Before that, he served as a science reporter for United Press International in Boston and the science editor of the international wire service in Washington.

Stein is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts in 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.

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5:44pm

Wed February 26, 2014
Shots - Health News

Blood Test Provides More Accurate Prenatal Testing For Down Syndrome

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 11:24 am

The new test scans a mother's blood for bits of a fetus's DNA.
iStockphoto

A new blood test offers pregnant women a safe and much more accurate way to screen for Down syndrome.

A study that evaluated the test in 1,914 pregnancies found that the test, which checks DNA, produces far fewer false alarms than the current screening techniques.

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4:22pm

Wed February 26, 2014
Shots - Health News

Scientists Question Safety Of Genetically Altering Human Eggs

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 12:08 pm

Up till now, all babies have had two genetic parents. That could soon change.
Klöpper & Eisenschmidt GbR iStockphoto

A panel of government advisers has expressed serious concerns about a controversial proposal to allow scientists to try to make babies using eggs that have been genetically altered to include DNA from another woman.

Members of the Food and Drug Administration panel said they were worried that not enough research has been done to know whether the experiments would be safe.

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1:26pm

Thu February 20, 2014
Shots - Health News

Flu Strikes Younger Adults Hard This Year

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 2:42 pm

Fredy DeLeon gets a flu shot at a Walgreens pharmacy in Concord, Calif., in January.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

This year's flu season is hitting younger and middle-aged adults unusually hard, federal health officials say.

More than 60 percent of flu patients who ended up in the hospital this year have been between the ages of 18 and 64. The proportion of young people among the hospitalized is much higher than usual, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only about 35 percent of flu patients who were hospitalized in the previous three years fell into that age group, the CDC says.

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2:07pm

Wed February 5, 2014
Shots - Health News

An Artificial Arm Gives One Man The Chance To Feel Again

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 8:43 pm

Dennis Aabo Sorensen tests a prosthetic arm with sensory feedback in a laboratory in Rome in March 2013.
Patrizia Tocci/Lifehand 2

Ten years ago Dennis Sorensen was setting off fireworks to celebrate New Year's Eve with his family in Denmark when something terrible happened.

"Unfortunately one of the rockets we had this evening was not good and when we light it then it just blew up and, yeah, my hand was, was not that good anymore," says Sorensen.

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3:45am

Tue February 4, 2014
Shots - Health News

Wanna Smoke? It Could Cost You A Tooth, FDA Warns Teens

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 8:12 am

Smoking can mess up your looks, according to an ad campaign aimed at keeping teens from smoking.
Courtesy of U.S. Food and Drug Administration

When it comes to persuading teenagers not to smoke, you have to think short-term, the Food and Drug Administration says.

"While most teens understand the serious health risks associated with tobacco use, they often don't believe the long-term consequences will ever apply to them," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told reporters Monday before unveiling the agency's first-ever anti-smoking campaign.

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5:30pm

Wed January 29, 2014
Shots - Health News

Adult Obesity May Have Origins Way Back In Kindergarten

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 3:20 pm

Playing outside can help kids — and their parents — maintain a healthy weight.
iStockphoto

A lot of parents like to think their kids will simply outgrow baby fat. But the risk of becoming a severely overweight adult can actually start as early as kindergarten, research suggests.

"As parents, as a society, as clinicians, we need to think about a healthy weight really early on," says Solveig Cunningham, who led the study. But that doesn't mean putting young children on calorie-restricted diets.

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5:15am

Tue January 21, 2014
Space

Rosetta On Course To Achieve Historic Mission

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 3:18 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Scientists are celebrating after receiving a signal from a spacecraft on a very long journey. The Rosetta is traveling through the heavens to study a comet in more detail than ever before. As NPR's Rob Stein reports, the Rosetta spacecraft's call home meant the robot onboard had successfully awakened itself from a long hibernation, and is now on course to achieve its historic mission.

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3:39am

Mon January 20, 2014
Shots - Health News

Can Probiotics Help Soothe Colicky Babies?

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 3:53 pm

You tried burping. You tried bouncing. You tried swaddling. Now what?
iStockphoto

When Melissa Shenewa and her husband imagined their first weeks with their new baby, they pictured hours of cuddling. Instead, they're enduring hours of inconsolable crying.

Their 6-week-old son, Aladdin, is a colicky baby. He cries for hours, usually in the middle of the night. They've tried everything they could think of. Nothing helps.

"Being a parent when your child is screaming in pain for hours on end and there's nothing you can do, you feel helpless," says Shenewa, 24, who lives in Houston. "You feel like you're not a good parent."

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5:14am

Tue November 26, 2013
Business

FDA Tells Company To Stop Selling Genetic Test

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 1:28 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A high-profile genetic medical testing company is in trouble with the federal government. The Food and Drug Administration has asked 23 And Me to temporarily halt its work.

As NPR's Rob Stein reports, the FDA has accuracy concerns.

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4:32pm

Mon November 25, 2013
Medical Treatments

FDA Tells Google-Backed 23andMe To Stop Selling DNA Test

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 6:05 pm

The Food and Drug Administration has sent a warning letter to the company 23andMe demanding that its saliva test be taken off the market. The company claims the test can detect the genetic likelihood of more than a hundred diseases — a claim the FDA says the company has not proved sufficiently.

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