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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6:17pm

Wed April 10, 2013
Shots - Health News

How Much Does It Hurt? Let's Scan Your Brain

Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 2:16 pm

A technique for imaging the brain allowed researchers to distinguish between physical and emotional pain.
Courtesy of Tom Wager

Scientists reported Wednesday that they had developed a way to measure how much pain people are experiencing by scanning their brains.

The researchers hope the technique will help doctors treat pain better, but the work is also raising concerns about whether the technique might interfere with doctors simply listening to their patients.

Now, when someone is in pain, a doctor has no way to judge its severity except to ask questions, a method that often is inadequate.

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1:57pm

Thu April 4, 2013
Shots - Health News

Researchers Use Brain Scans To Reveal Hidden Dreamscape

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 1:57 pm

A window into dreams may now be opening.
Silver Screen Collection Getty Images

Scientists say they have found a way to get a glimpse of people's dreams.

"Our results show that we can predict what a person's seeing during dreams," says Yukiyasu Kamitani, a researcher at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan.

Philosophers, poets and psychologists have long shared a fascination with dreams. But Jack Gallant, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley says solving the mystery of our dreams is one tough problem.

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4:25pm

Tue April 2, 2013
Shots - Health News

China's Air Pollution Linked To Millions Of Early Deaths

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 1:25 pm

Men walk along a railway line in Beijing on Jan. 12, as air pollution reached hazardous levels.
Wang Zhao AFP/Getty Images

More than 1 million people are dying prematurely every year from air pollution in China, according to a new analysis.

"This is the highest toll in the world and it really reflects the very high levels of air pollution that exist in China today," says Robert O'Keefe of the Health Effects Institute in Boston, who presented the findings in Beijing this week.

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2:16am

Tue March 19, 2013
Shots - Health News

Bioethics Panel Warns Against Anthrax Vaccine Testing On Kids

Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 9:42 am

The anthrax vaccine has been given to more than 1 million adults in the military. But no one knows how well it would work in children.
Randy Davey Reuters/Landov

A controversial government proposal to test the anthrax vaccine in children would be unethical without first conducting much more research, a presidential commission concluded Tuesday.

"The federal government would have to take multiple steps before anthrax vaccine trials with children could be ethically considered," Amy Gutmann, who chairs the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, tells Shots. "It would not be ethical to do it today."

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12:10pm

Thu March 14, 2013
Shots - Health News

Americans More Distracted Behind The Wheel Than Europeans

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 3:34 pm

A woman uses a cellphone while driving in Los Angeles in 2011.
Damian Dovarganes AP

U.S. drivers are much more likely than Europeans to drive while distracted, federal health officials report Thursday.

Nearly 69 percent of Americans who drive say that they talked on their cell phones while driving at least once in the previous month, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That's a lot higher than what was reported by Europeans in another survey. Only 21 percent of British drivers reported chatting on their cell phones while behind the wheel, for example. In Germany and France it was about 40 percent.

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