Rob Stein

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

An award-winning science journalist with more than 25 years of experience, Stein mostly covers health and medicine. He tends to focus on stories that illustrate the intersection of science, health, politics, social trends, ethics, and federal science policy. He tracks genetics, stem cells, cancer research, women's health issues and other science, medical, and health policy news.

Before NPR, Stein worked at The Washington Post for 16 years, first as the newspaper's science editor and then as a national health reporter. Earlier in his career, Stein spent about four years as an editor at NPR's science desk. Before that, he was a science reporter for United Press International (UPI) in Boston and the science editor of the international wire service in Washington.

Stein is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, 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.

Stein's work has been honored by many organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association of Health Care Journalists.

One of the fundamental ways scientists measure the well-being of a nation is tracking the rate at which its citizens die and how long they can be expected to live. So the news out of the federal government Thursday is disturbing: The overall U.S. death rate has increased for the first time in a decade, according to an analysis of the latest data. And that led to a drop in overall life expectancy for the first time since 1993, particularly among people younger than 65. "This is a big deal,"...

The share of U.S. mothers who spank their young children or endorse physical discipline has declined significantly over the past two and a half decades, according to an analysis of four national surveys. The findings , out Monday in the journal Pediatrics, came from an analysis of data from 1988 to 2011. Researcher found that 21 percent of median-income mothers of kindergarten-aged children endorsed physical discipline at the end of that period — down from 46 percent at the start. "There's...

A large study has produced reassuring evidence about a drug that millions of people use to alleviate pain from arthritis and other ailments. The study found no evidence that the drug Celebrex , or generically, celecoxib, poses any greater risk for causing heart attacks and strokes than two other widely used pain relievers. "What we found was surprising," says Steven Nissen , a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic who reported the results Sunday at an American Heart Association meeting in New...

For years, medical interns have been limited to working no more than 16 hours without a break to minimize the chances they would make mistakes while fatigued. But that restriction could soon be eased. The group that sets the rules for medical residents proposed scrapping the 16-hour limit for interns, doctors in their first year of on-the-job training after finishing medical school. The new rule would let these new doctors work for as many as 28 hours at a stretch. The Accreditation Council...

It's hard for Zachary Lane to wake up in time for school every day. "I have four alarms set and it still takes me a long time to wake me up," says Lane, a 17-year-old high school junior in Zionsville, Ind. He says he regularly gets detention for being tardy. "I get to school and I'm talked to like I'm attempting to skip school — like I'm attempting to be truant," he says. "I feel terrible. It's awful." And when Lane does make it to class on time, he has a hard time focusing. "I feel kind of...

Human life spans have been increasing for decades thanks to advances in treating and preventing diseases and improved social conditions. In fact, longevity has increased so much in recent decades that some researchers began to wonder: What is the upper limit on human aging? "We never had so many centenarians as we have now," says Jan Vijg , who studies molecular genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. "Maybe we can actually live much longer than 100. Maybe this goes...

Yoshinori Ohsumi of the Tokyo Institute of Technology has won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discoveries about "autophagy" — a fundamental process cells use to degrade and recycle parts of themselves. Ohsumi , 71, is a professor emeritus at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Yokohama, Japan. As the sole winner, Ohsumi will receive more than $930,000. Ohsumi's work opened the path to understanding how cells adapt to starvation and respond to infection, according to...

Men who may have been exposed to the Zika virus should wait at least six months before trying to conceive a child with a partner, regardless of whether they ever had any symptoms, federal health officials are recommending. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had previously recommended that only men with Zika symptoms had to wait that long. Those who may have been exposed to Zika but never developed any symptoms were told to hold off on trying to conceive for just eight weeks. But...

Federal health officials are urging all Americans to get their flu shots as soon as possible, and are especially concerned that too few elderly people are getting vaccinated. "Flu is serious. Flu is unpredictable," Dr. Thomas Frieden , the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , told reporters during a joint briefing Thursday with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases . "Flu often does not get enough respect." While the influenza virus causes relatively mild...

A doctor who treats infertility in New York City says he has helped a couple have the first baby purposefully created with DNA from three different adults. John Zhang of the New Hope Fertility Center in Manhattan traveled to Mexico earlier this year to perform a procedure for a couple from Jordan that enabled them to have the baby in May, according to a clinic spokesman. Zhang performed the procedure in the hopes of helping the couple, who the clinic declined to identify, have a healthy baby....

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A scientist in Sweden has started trying to edit the DNA in healthy human embryos, NPR has learned. The step by the developmental biologist Fredrik Lanner makes him the first researcher known to attempt to modify the genes of healthy human embryos. That has long been considered taboo because of safety and ethical concerns. Lanner is attempting to edit genes in human embryos to learn more about how the genes regulate early embryonic development. He hopes the work could lead to new ways to...

Hundreds of clinics around the country are offering to treat a long list of health problems with stem cells. The clinics claim that stem cells found in fat tissue, blood, bone marrow and even placentas can help people suffering from arthritic joints and torn tendons to more serious medical problems, including spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's disease and strokes. Some even claim the cells can help children with autism. But leading stem cell researchers say there's not enough evidence to...

Mosquitoes have begun spreading the Zika virus in a second part of Miami — the popular tourist destination of Miami Beach — Florida officials announced Friday. As a result, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its advice to travelers, advising pregnant women to avoid the parts of Miami Beach where the virus is spreading. In addition, women and men who have traveled to the area should wait at least eight weeks to try to get pregnant even if they didn't catch Zika...

When parents are trying to keep their children safe, one of the things many do is to transport their kids in a stroller or baby carrier. While strollers and carriers are generally safe when used properly, a new study is a reminder that even these devices can be dangerous, especially when parents don't use them properly. Almost 361,000 children ages 5 and younger were treated in U.S. emergency rooms between 1990 and 2010 for injuries they suffered in connection with a stroller or carrier,...

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