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 News
3:34 am
Mon February 18, 2013

Targeted Cancer Drugs Keep Myeloma Patients Up And Running

Don Wright runs at an indoor track at the Maplewood Community Center in North Saint Paul, Minn.
Ariana Lindquist for NPR

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 3:13 pm

Don Wright got diagnosed with multiple myeloma at what turned out to be the right time. It was 10 years ago, when he was 62.

That was at the beginning of a revolution in treating this once-fearsome blood cell cancer, which strikes around 20,000 Americans every year. The malignancy can literally eat holes in victims' bones, which can snap from the simple act of bending over to pick up a package.

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Shots - Health News
6:11 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Report: Action Needed To Wipe Out Fake And Substandard Drugs

Shoppers buy smuggled counterfeit drugs at the Adjame market in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in 2007.
Issouf Sanogo AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 14, 2013 5:20 pm

A blue-ribbon panel is urging stronger regulation of pharmaceuticals around the world to combat the growing problem of fake and poor-quality medicines.

The quality problems and fake medicines have affected Americans. Fungal contamination of steroids made by a Massachusetts pharmacy, which sickened more than 700 people and killed 46, is one recent example. Other U.S. patients have received fake cancer drugs and medicines obtained over the Internet with little or no active ingredients.

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Shots - Health News
4:44 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Widely Used Stroke Treatment Doesn't Help Patients

An angiogram of a 48-year- old patient after treatment for a stroke. A blockage was targeted with clot-busting drugs using a catheter.
Zephyr Science Source

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 5:09 pm

It's another case of a beautiful idea colliding with some ugly facts.

The beautiful idea is the notion that clearing the blocked artery of a stroke patient with a device snaked right up to the blockage would salvage threatened brain cells and prevent a lot of disability.

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Shots - Health News
10:37 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Experimental Tuberculosis Vaccine Fails To Protect Infants

Nurse Christel Petersen inoculates a child in the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative study in 2011.
Rodger Bosch AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 6:03 pm

Researchers are disappointed in the results of a long-awaited study of the leading candidate vaccine against tuberculosis, one of humankind's most elusive scourges.

But, pointing to more than a dozen other TB vaccines in the pipeline, they say they're not discouraged.

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Shots - Health News
3:40 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Female Smokers Face Greater Risk Than Previously Thought

Women smoke in New York City's Times Square.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 1:19 pm

There's still more to learn about the risks of smoking and the benefits of quitting.

Studies in this week's New England Journal of Medicine show that the risk for women has been under-appreciated for decades. New data also quantify the surprising payoffs of smoking cessation — especially under the age of 40.

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Shots - Health News
11:55 am
Wed January 23, 2013

Old Drug Extends Life For Pancreatic Cancer Patients

A CT scan showing an adenocarcinoma of the pancreatic head.
Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 3:55 pm

A large study is providing a rare glimmer of hope for patients with pancreatic cancer, perhaps the deadliest of all malignancies.

By the time they're diagnosed, most patients with pancreatic cancer have advanced disease that's spread to the liver and lung. And the primary tumor may be inoperable because it's wrapped around vital blood vessels and nerves.

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Shots - Health News
3:51 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

A Worm's Ovary Cells Become A Flu Vaccine Machine

The fall armyworm, a corn pest, is now also a vaccine factory.
Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 9:57 am

As the flu season grinds on from news cycle to news cycle, there's some flu news of a different sort. Federal regulators have approved a next-generation type of flu vaccine for the second time in two months.

The two new vaccines are the first fruits of a big government push to hasten and simplify the laborious production of flu vaccines.

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Shots - Health News
3:48 am
Thu January 17, 2013

Bad Flu Season Overshadows Other Winter Miseries

People line up at a Duane Reade pharmacy in New York behind a sign announcing the recent flu outbreak.
Andrew Kelly Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 11:11 am

Dr. Beth Zeeman says she can spot a case of influenza from 20 paces. It's not like a common cold.

"People think they've had the flu when they've had colds," Zeeman, an emergency room specialist at MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham, Mass., tells Shots. "People use the word 'flu' for everything. But having influenza is really a different thing. It hits you like a ton of bricks."

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Shots - Health News
3:18 am
Mon January 14, 2013

As Hepatitis C Sneaks Up On Baby Boomers, Treatment Options Grow

Hepatitis C patient Nancy Turner shows Kathleen Coleman, a nurse practitioner, where a forearm rash, a side effect of her treatment, has healed. Turner is one of many patients with hepatitis C experimenting with new drugs to beat back the virus.
Richard Knox NPR

Originally published on Mon January 14, 2013 3:27 pm

A smoldering epidemic already affects an estimated 4 million Americans, most of whom don't know it.

It's hepatitis C, an insidious virus that can hide in the body for two or three decades without causing symptoms — and then wreak havoc with the liver, scarring it so extensively that it can fail. Half of all people waiting for liver transplants have hepatitis C.

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Shots - Health News
5:34 am
Sat January 12, 2013

After Bringing Cholera To Haiti, U.N. Plans To Get Rid Of It

Haitians protest against the United Nations peacekeepers in Port-au-Prince in November 2010.
Hector Retamal AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 12, 2013 11:11 pm

Not quite 10 months after Haiti's devastating 2010 earthquake, a more insidious disaster struck: cholera.

Haiti hadn't seen cholera for at least a century. Then suddenly, the first cases appeared in the central highlands near a camp for United Nations peacekeeping forces.

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