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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11:18am

Wed May 22, 2013
Shots - Health News

Research Reveals Yeasty Beasts Living On Our Skin

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 9:20 am

Fungi (cyan) surround a human hair within the skin. A study in the journal Nature shows the population of fungi on human skin is more diverse that previously thought.
Alex Valm, Ph.D.

Scientists have completed an unusual survey: a census of the fungi that inhabit different places on our skin. It's part of a big scientific push to better understand the microbes that live in and on our bodies.

"This is the first study of our fungi, which are yeast and other molds that live on the human body," says Julie Segre, of the National Human Genome Research Institute, who led the survey.

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10:23am

Wed May 15, 2013
Shots - Health News

Scientists Clone Human Embryos To Make Stem Cells

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 9:57 am

A scientist removes the nucleus from a human egg using a pipette. This is the first step to making personalized embryonic stem cells.
Courtesy of OHSU Photos

Scientists say they have, for the first time, cloned human embryos capable of producing embryonic stem cells.

The accomplishment is a long-sought step toward harnessing the potential power of embryonic stem cells to treat many human diseases. But the work also raises a host of ethical concerns.

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1:43am

Mon May 6, 2013
Shots - Health News

Parents' Saliva On Pacifiers Could Ward Off Baby's Allergies

Originally published on Mon September 9, 2013 8:33 am

Sucking may be one of the most beneficial ways to clean a baby's dirty pacifier, a study found
iStockphoto.com

That word "microbiome" — describing the collection of bacteria that live in and on our bodies — keeps popping up. This time, researchers say that children whose parents clean their pacifiers by sucking them might be less likely to develop allergic conditions because of how their parents' saliva changes their microbiomes.

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4:01pm

Wed April 24, 2013
Shots - Health News

Gut Bacteria's Belch May Play A Role In Heart Disease

Originally published on Mon September 9, 2013 8:38 am

More than just a tenant: Enterococcus faecalis thrives in the human intestine with a varied jumble of other bacteria that help us digest food.
National Institutes of Health

Scientists have discovered what may be an important new risk factor for heart disease. And here's the surprising twist: The troublesome substance seems to be a waste product left behind by bacteria in our guts as they help us digest lecithin — a substance plentiful in red meat, eggs, liver and certain other foods.

Doctors say the research further illustrates the complicated relationship we have with the microbes living inside us, and could lead to new ways to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

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5:17pm

Wed April 10, 2013
Shots - Health News

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

Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 1:16 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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