Rob Stein

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

An award-winning science journalist with more than 30 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's work has been honored by many organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the Association of Health Care Journalists. He was twice part of NPR teams that won Peabody Awards.

Stein frequently represents NPR, speaking at universities, international meetings and other venues, including the University of Cambridge in Britain, the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea, and the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC.

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.

The devastating fall and winter wave of coronavirus infections that is causing so much misery across the U.S. appears to have finally peaked, according to several researchers who are closely tracking the virus.

While another surge remains possible, especially with new, more infectious variants on the horizon, the number of new daily infections in the current wave appears to have hit a high in the past week or two and has been steadily declining in most states since, the researchers say.

Americans are being more careful to avoid catching and spreading the coronavirus but are still not being careful enough to slow the pandemic, especially with worrisome, apparently more contagious new variants looming.

That's the conclusion of the latest findings, released Friday, from the largest national survey tracking behavior during the coronavirus pandemic.

The nation is at a pivotal moment in the fight against the pandemic. Vaccines are finally starting to roll out, but the virus is spreading faster than ever — and killing thousands of Americans daily. And it will be months before enough people get inoculated to stop it.

That means it's critical to continue the measures that can limit the toll: mask-wearing, hunkering down, hand-washing, testing and contact tracing.

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Even though hope is on the way with vaccines, the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the country. And while it remains unclear how much of an impact Thanksgiving had on the pandemic, experts are bracing for what's coming over the next holidays and beyond.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expanding its definition of what it means to be a close contact of someone infected with the coronavirus. NPR health correspondent Rob Stein has the details and joins us now.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

The coronavirus can be very serious for anyone at any age but is especially concerning for a man of President Trump's age, 74.

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States clamoring for coronavirus tests in recent weeks have been talking about two types.

First, there's a PCR test that detects the virus's genetic material and so can confirm an active infection. And then there's an antibody test, which looks at the body's reaction to that infection and so is useful in identifying people who have been infected with the virus in the past.

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Tonight President Trump announced new guidelines for a gradual step-by-step reopening of the country.

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Public health experts say they are alarmed by President Trump's suggestion that some parts of the country could soon ease some of the dramatic measures being taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"That is exactly the wrong thing to do," Dr. Howard Markel, a noted medical historian at the University of Michigan, wrote NPR in an email. "Cases would go up and so would deaths...we now need to stay the course!"

The coronavirus is especially dangerous for older people and people with other health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and weak immune systems.

But are people who only have high blood pressure also in greater peril?

It's an important question because one out of every three Americans has this condition, which is also known as hypertension.

As the Trump administration scrambles to make more coronavirus tests available, demand for testing still outstrips availability.

Most experts are pushing for making more testing available even faster, but some also question some of the steps the government is taking to try to make that happen.

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Well, the United States could be entering a new phase in the battle against the coronavirus. More and more cases are being diagnosed in this country, and those numbers may grow as testing for this dangerous new virus ramps up.

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President Trump, at a press conference last night, chose the person who will lead the government's response to the coronavirus.

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Chunlin Leonhard spends most of her time alone in her room at a hotel at the Travis Air Force Base in California, anxiously reading the latest news about the coronavirus outbreak in China.

"I'm doing about as well as can be hoped for under the circumstances," Leonhard, 55, a New Orleans law professor, says during an interview over Skype.

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Doctors are reporting the first evidence that genetically edited cells could offer a safe way to treat sickle cell disease, a devastating, incurable disorder that afflicts millions of people around the world.

Billions of cells that were genetically modified with the powerful gene-editing technique called CRISPR have started working, as doctors had hoped, inside the body of the first sickle cell patient to receive the experimental treatment, according to highly anticipated data released Tuesday.

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The federal Food and Drug Administration has approved a gene therapy for a rare childhood disorder that is now the most expensive drug on the market. It costs $2.125 million per patient.

But for those patients lucky enough to get it, it appears it can save their lives with a one-time treatment.

Three-year-old Donovan Weisgarber is one of those patients. When he was born he seemed perfectly healthy. But within weeks, it became clear something was terribly wrong.

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