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.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is taking a page from TV anchor Katie Couric by going public about colonoscopy.

Three years ago Couric, whose husband died of colon cancer, had her colonoscopy on camera as a way of encouraging others to have one too. It was so effective that epidemiologists named the resulting increase in colonoscopy tests "the Couric effect."

Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have disciplined three faculty members in a long-running conflict-of-interest case that became a prime exhibit in the debate over the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2010.

The kidney-destroying E. coli strain called O14:H4 has struck again, this time in France. And the latest outbreak is giving disease detectives more clues about how the germ is getting into Europeans' food.

It's the fenugreek seeds, they think.

Ever since scientists began to sequence the entire genomes of individuals --beginning with those of Nobelist James Watson and scientific entrepreneur J. Craig Venter in 2007 — skeptics have wondered just how useful this elegant and expensive trick would become.

This was almost one for the medical history books — a full face transplant and double hand transplant on the same patient.

Charla Nash, a Connecticut woman who lost her face and hands in early 2009 when she was attacked by an angry chimpanzee, is the patient.

The fact that 80 daily milligrams of simvastatin (brand name Zocor) can cause serious muscle damage has been known for years. So why did it take the Food and Drug Administration so long to tell doctors and patients they should avoid that dose?

The answer reveals a lot about the FDA's reluctance to restrict use of a popular drug — much less move to take it off the market — even when there are safer alternatives.

On any given day, more than 130,000 Americans endure the miseries of what we often call food poisoning. It might be from salmonella in the salad, campylobacter in the chicken or vibrio in the shellfish.

The nation's record in preventing foodborne illnesses is decidedly mixed, according to the latest annual report card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Christopher Braden, the chief of food- and waterborne diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doesn't expect the Escherichia coli bug causing serious illness in northern Europe to leapfrog the Atlantic anytime soon.

Still, Braden tells Shots, "I am concerned about something similar that could happen in the United States."

It's a quest that never seems to end — the search for a safer birth control pill.

Some thought it might be at hand almost a decade ago when a new generation of oral contraceptives came on the market. They contained a hormone called drospirenone, which some thought would be less likely to cause dangerous blood clots.