Breakthroughs | KERA News

Breakthroughs

Breakthroughs is a weekly series devoted to the latest innovations in health, science and technology — with a North Texas accent.

Explore special Breakthroughs multimedia projects: Surviving Ebola, a look at how Ebola made its way to Dallas and the lessons local hospitals and governments learned; Growing Up After Cancer, the journey of one North Texas boy with cancer; and The Broken Hip, an in-depth look at how a fall can change everything. 

Courtesty SMU, UCLA

A new study from Southern Methodist University shows that empathetic people — those who are generally more sensitive to the feelings of others — receive more pleasure from listening to music, and their brains show increased activity in areas associated with social interactions.

Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

In 2015, Parkland Hospital in Dallas became the first major hospital system in the country to screen each and every one of its patients for suicide risk — at each and every visit. In March, the hospital extended those screenings to children as young as 10.

UNT Health Science Center

Studies suggest that Mexican-Americans have an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease. They're about 1.5 times more likely to develop the disease than non-Hispanic white Americans.

Researchers at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth are trying to find out why.

UT Southwestern

We're learning more about depression and its impact on our daily lives, but there's still a long way to go when it comes to understanding how it affects teenagers, specifically.

Dr. Madhukar Trivedi with UT Southwestern Medical Center is leading a program in North Texas schools as part of long-term research to identify, study and treat teenagers with or at risk for depression.

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You may think of pain as just pain. How you experience that pain, though, might depend on whether you're a man or a woman.

Courtesy of Parkland Hospital

At last month’s State of the Homeless address, Cindy Crain, the outgoing president and CEO of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, confirmed one of the demographic trends that has worried her the most: The homeless in Dallas are getting older and sicker.

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Dallas is warming at a faster rate than any other large city in the country, besides Louisville, Kentucky and Phoenix, according to research conducted for the Texas Trees Foundation.

Courtesy of UT Dallas

Along with our basic needs for nutrition, how we feel can play a role in what we choose to eat and how much we eat. A new study from the University of Texas at Dallas examines the reasons behind "emotional eating" with a focus on kids and how dietary habits develop in early childhood. 

Courtesy of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission

A left-leaning grassroots organization called the East Dallas Persistent Women released a report last week finding that Healthy Texas Women — a state program intended to provide low-cost women’s health services — is riddled with errors on its website.

Centers For Disease Control

Hospitals in Texas and across the country are doing a better job these days in stopping the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in health care settings.

But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these so-called "superbugs" still kill up to 23,000 people a year.

bakdc / Shutterstock

This weekend, students will be marching in Dallas and across the country, calling for new laws to reduce gun violence.

Criminologist Nadine Connell is leading a research team that's trying to get a better grasp on how guns have affected K-12 schools. The University of Texas at Dallas researchers are creating a database of all school shootings in America since 1990.

SMU

Minecraft is a popular video game that's sort of like virtual Lego. Players find and build stuff by themselves, or online with friends.

It's a simple formula that's attracted millions of fans — and Southern Methodist University professors.

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The debate over government access to personal and private information dates back decades. But it took center stage after the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, when Apple refused to open a backdoor into an assailant's encrypted cell phone for FBI investigators.

The agency ultimately paid a hacker to unlock the phone instead.

Courtesy of UNT Health Science Center

Advancements in medicine have helped improve the overall health of Americans over the past several decades, but they haven’t benefited everyone.

Library of Congress

This flu season is making regular headlines, especially in North Texas, where more than 100 people have died. It doesn't compare to the flu crisis the world endured a century ago, but we can still learn from it. 

Shutterstock

A team at the University of Texas at Dallas is developing a new method to treat pain by disrupting how the body processes it. 

Zachary Campbell researches pain on the molecular level at UT Dallas. His team's work describes a new method of reducing pain with RNA-based medicine. RNA stands for ribonucleic acid, which carries out genetic information from DNA to proteins.

GABRIEL CRISToVER PeREZ / KUT

In Texas, mothers are dying — and lawmakers and public health officials are trying to figure out why.

UT Southwestern Medical Center

Autism affects about one in 68 children, and the condition poses social challenges, including difficulty processing social interactions, such as facial expressions and physical gestures.

New research out of UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas shows those social behaviors could be restored through a process called "neuromodulation," or brain stimulation.

Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

Flu season has been especially severe this year in North Texas. Earlier this month, the Walgreens flu index ranked Dallas-Fort Worth the seventh most active metropolitan area in the country, prompting area hospitals to push flu prevention more than usual.

But those reminders can often miss the most vulnerable in the community – so a roving flu clinic in Fort Worth is closing the gap.

Radiological Society of America

The horror stories about football and brain damage keep flowing out of the NFL, but surprisingly, little is known about how the sport affects the brains of young players. 

bswhealth.com

Late last year, a woman gave birth to a baby via a transplanted uterus — the first ever in the United States. And it happened in Dallas: The boy was born at Baylor University Medical Center.

Photos provided / Graphic by Molly Evans

In September of 1982, a 12-year-old girl and six adults in and around Chicago died suddenly and mysteriously. Hundreds of investigators looked into the cases and discovered that all the victims had taken Tylenol laced with cyanide.

Zach Copley / Flickr

The value of the digital cryptocurrency bitcoin has been all over the map recently, reaching a high of about $20,000 per coin late last year to nearly $14,000 this week. That's a big leap for something that was worth just a dollar in 2011. 

But what exactly is bitcoin?

Photo: Courtesy of Children's Health System; Graphic: Molly Evans, KERA News

This year was full of breakthroughs in health, science and technology. Telemedicine made its mark in Dallas, "baby boxes" became a thing, and researchers got one step closer to understanding what causes blurry vision for astronauts.

Revisit three of our favorite Breakthroughs stories from the year below.

Molly Evans / KERA News

Images from the moon landing and other major space moments of the 1960s are familiar to many Americans. But what about the sounds? NASA recorded thousands of hours of audio tapes from the Apollo missions that have sat unheard in storage for decades.

Molly Evans / KERA News

Robots are assuming more and more roles in our daily lives. They can ask us about our day, play songs for us and, as one study from the University of Texas Arlington shows, can perform Shakespeare with us, too. 

People who experience frequent migraines may soon have access to a new class of drugs.

In a pair of large studies, two drugs that tweak brain circuits involved in migraine each showed they could reduce the frequency of attacks without causing side effects, researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Baylor University Medical Center / Facebook

Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas announced it has delivered the first baby born in the United States to a mother who received a uterus transplant.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Trying to keep up with medical terminology and acronyms during a doctor’s visit can be tricky for anyone. Imagine if you and your doctor didn’t speak the same language. 

Photo courtesy of Eric Frey

Medical school students today are trained to diagnose complicated diseases, they’re rarely trained to engineer the solutions themselves. Soon, Texas A&M will start training doctors to also be engineers.

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