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. 

Children’s Health

For decades, Children’s Medical Center in Dallas has partnered with academic institutions, working within their own system to come up with ways to care for sick patients. Now, the model is shifting. They’re investing in tech startups to care for healthy kids. 

National Institutes of Health / Kuhn and Rossmann research groups, Purdue University

The news about the Zika virus has accelerated this week. A newborn in the Houston area tested positive for Zika-related microcephaly. Doctors are also trying to figure out how an elderly Utah man was infected without transmission through sex or mosquito bites. These developments come as a new study from UT Southwestern Medical Center finds that Zika can infect brain cells and hide itself from the immune system.

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New research shows that children who often go hungry are twice as likely to have impulsive, violent behavior while growing up -- and later in life. Alex Piquero of the University of Texas at Dallas helped author the study, which is among the first to link childhood hunger with violence. 

SMU.edu/Illustration by Karen Carr

CT scans aren’t just for people -- they can also be used on dinosaurs.

STEPHANIE KUO

In 2004, Steve Papania was patrolling Kirkuk, Iraq, as a rifleman in the U.S. Army. He’d enlisted immediately after 9/11.

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Operating on the wrong patient or on the wrong limb, or giving the wrong medication – those are examples of medical errors. And those errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.  

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

If you thought meth labs disappeared after the final season of “Breaking Bad,” you’d be in for a surprise. Fewer people are illegally cooking drugs in Texas, but it’s still happening. A new tool tracks down illegal chemicals — in the air.

STEPHANIE KUO

The homeless have plenty to worry about, and their health often takes a backseat to more pressing concerns like housing and food. Doctors say that ultimately takes a toll.

UT Southwestern

UT Southwestern Medical Center just opened a $17 million microscope center – not the kind we used in science class, but super-powered microscopes. Michael Rosen with UT Southwestern talks about what these microscopes will find.

Dallas Museum of Art

Museums protect priceless artwork not just by using velvet ropes or security guards. They use science, too. 

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Scientists are thinking up new ways to prevent Zika and west Nile Virus in Texas. Still, some say the older ideas might be better.

In North Texas, we’re all about convenience. The drive-through Starbucks, burger joint, even drive-through bank. Still, there aren’t any drive-through health clinics. But there are clinics on wheels — they’re run by Parkland Health & Hospital System. The clinics have been crisscrossing Dallas for more than a decade, serving the people in the community who need it most.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

If you grow up in a stable home, with supportive parents, it can be hard to see all the paths that lead to homelessness. But they’re there — like trap doors in a dark house.

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Women are graduating from medical school in greater numbers than ever before. In 1970, women made up under 10 percent of graduates. Today, it’s nearly 50 percent. When it comes to who is getting published in top medical journals, though, women are behind. Doctors say the gender gap in medical research isn’t just an academic concern — it has implications for our health.

UTSW

If a hospital is doing well financially, what does that say about its patients? Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center evaluated the relationship between a patient’s health and a hospital’s profit.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Several buildings in downtown Dallas have been turned into makeshift conference centers, classrooms and deal sites for entrepreneurs and investors. It’s part of Dallas Startup Week. We caught up with one of key players in the local startup scene to find out what’s new.

In the U.S., we guzzle down data – on our phones and computers – and generally don’t think much about where all that content is stored. It’s stored in places called data centers, and they’re a fundamental part of the infrastructure of the 21st century. The problem: Many of them are stuck in the past. A few companies building data centers in Texas though are trying to boost energy efficiency.

How Autism Diagnostics Overlook Girls

Mar 24, 2016

One in 68 kids in the U.S. is affected by autism, with boys receiving four times as many diagnoses as girls. New research suggests that that disparity may be the result of girls on the spectrum getting overlooked and misdiagnosed.  

Texas Christian University

Last week, the NFL admitted for the first time that football is linked to brain damage. It’s something researchers have documented for years. Now, a new study conducted at Texas Christian University shows a component of fish oil could help reduce the brain-damaging effects of head trauma.

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Last year, Texas legalized limited medical use of cannabidiol oil, which is derived from marijuana. Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth is undergoing trials to see if that compound can be used to treat children with a severe form of epilepsy.

Elyse Barnard

Meet Hallie: for much of her young life, the 7-year-old Denton 2nd grader, has been looking for something you can’t buy in a store: She’s searching for someone who could save her life. There’s a chance you could help.

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Millions of Americans suffer from memory loss - it could be from Alzheimer’s disease, a traumatic brain injury from the battlefield – or even a car wreck. UT Southwestern Medical Center is working with several universities on an ambitious project to stop memory loss

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Lindsey Davidson says finding heroin is Texas easy; finding the drug to reverse an overdose, that’s hard.

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Doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth are used to treating cases of abuse. But what they’d really like to do is prevent it. So they’re experimenting with “big data” technology that could help predict neighborhoods where kids are most likely to be abused.

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Research in Texas shows for the first time that electromagnetic fields from things like cellphone towers and power lines can amplify pain in people.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

The Holy Grail in health care is finding a way to cut costs and improve outcomes. Researchers at UT Southwestern and Parkland Hospital say they’ve uncovered a way to do both – so that patients who typically have to stay in the hospital for more than a month can go home and care for themselves. The program could help hospitals save significantly and give patients independence.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

When children get sick at school, it can be a big disruption. For the kids – they have to miss class –and for mom or dad, who have to leave work, try and schedule a last minute doctor’s appointment, maybe even go to the emergency room. So, what if kids could see a pediatrician without having to leave school? That’s the idea behind a telemedicine initiative run by Children’s Health. The program has gone from reaching several hundred kids to in Texas to thousands.

James Gathany / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

By now many people in North Texas have heard of the Zika virus, but few have firsthand experience. Dr. David Vanderpool does. Vanderpool was raised and educated in Dallas and has seen the toll the disease is taking south of the border, in the poorest country of the Americas – Haiti. He says whether or not the Zika virus spreads to the U.S., we need to be paying close attention.

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Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas hopes to become one of the first hospitals in the U.S. to transplant a uterus from one woman to another.

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Texas is an epicenter for human trafficking. Recently, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton established a new unit of attorneys and investigators focused on combating human trafficking. Each year, thousands of adults and children are trafficked through the state and many end up living in cities like Dallas and Houston. It turns out some victims are walking into hospitals, and some doctors believe these visits are a window of opportunity to help them escape.

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