Health/Science/Tech | KERA News

Health/Science/Tech

Every week, KERA explores the latest in health, science and technology in North Texas through two main series, Vital Signs and Breakthroughs.

University of North Texas Ph.D candidate Ethan McBride prepares the precursor to the illegal drug PCP in a trailer.
Credit Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Vital Signs

In Vital Signs, Sam Baker taps into the expertise of local health care leaders to provide insight into your everyday health and well-being.

Breakthroughs

In Breakthroughs, KERA reporters delve into the latest health-related technologies developed in North Texas and across the state. From the Zika virus to fried chicken, no scientific topic is off limits. 

Learn more in-depth 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. 

Cracking The Code To Create Special Blood-Forming Cells

Feb 24, 2013
Shutterstock

In the near future, scientists may be able to reproduce blood-forming stem cells in a laboratory. That could save the lives of thousands of people suffering from diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers. The Dallas doctor who's brought us closer to this reality published the breakthrough in stem cell research in the national science journal Nature.

Lauren Silverman

The job hunt is complicated enough for most high school and college graduates. But for the growing number of young people on the autism spectrum, it is a daunting challenge. Nationwide 90 percent of adults with autism are either unemployed or underemployed. Despite the obstacles these people face trying to find work, there's a natural landing place: the tech industry.

Amelia Schabel graduated from high school five years ago. She had good grades and enrolled in community college. But it was too stressful. After less than a month she was back at home, doing nothing.

Texas spent $38.99 per capita on mental health care, making it 49th in the country for 2012. The Texas Tribune's Brandi Grissom says the dearth of spending on mental health resources has converted jails, emergency rooms and homeless shelters into "de facto asylums." Today she kicks off a series, called “Trouble in Mind,” about mental health in Texas’ criminal justice system. And tonight, KERA airs “Erasing the Stigma: Mental Illness and the Search for Solutions.” The public forum was presented by KERA, The Dallas Morning News and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and will air at 7 pm on KERA-Channel 13.

Hospitals across the country are turning to the neighborhood pharmacy to keep patients well after they return home from the hospital. The federal government began penalizing hospitals with high readmission rates in October, and although Texas hospitals are doing slightly better than the nation overall at preventing readmissions, some are looking to partner with pharmacies such as Walgreens to provide support for patients and follow-up care after hospital stays. Scott & White Healthcare, based in central Texas, recently announced its partnership with Walgreens.

hikrcn / shutterstock.com

An estimated one in five young people in the U.S. suffers from a diagnosable, treatable mental illness. Yet, most get little or no help because of we don’t recognize the signs and symptoms. Vanita Halliburton is working to change that through a foundation named after her son. She explained why and talked about the signs of mental illness in young people in this edition of “Vital Signs”.

When the X-ray was invented, people clamored to get one. Not for any medical reason, but just to see what was typically hidden inside their bodies.

Something like that seems to be happening with DNA sequencing technology. First it was companies offering to sequence people's genomes. Now it's learning all about your microbiome, the collection of microorganisms living on and in your body.

Ash Wednesday, To-Go

Feb 13, 2013
JoAnne Pounds / Oak Lawn United Methodist Church

Like some ashes with your train ticket? How about with your hot chocolate? “Ashes To Go” is one way to participate in Ash Wednesday without even entering a church. Members of Oak Lawn United Methodist in Dallas decided to leave the confines of the church for the start of Lent -- the forty day period before Easter -- and give folks the telltale Ash Wednesday forehead treatment in some untraditional locations. 

A common vitamin supplement appears to dramatically reduce a woman's risk of having a child with autism.

A study of more than 85,000 women in Norway found that those who started taking folic acid before getting pregnant were about 40 percent less likely to have a child who developed the disorder, researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

When Spc. Brad Gotschall returned from Iraq to Breckenridge, west of Fort Worth, he had been blown up by an IED and suffered broken limbs, but he says it was problems with his teeth that left him in pain. WFAA reports oral deterioration could be related to stresses soldiers face in combat. Problem is, the VA only pays for dental care under certain circumstances.

Lupus: A Cruel Mystery

Feb 11, 2013
Laurin Rinder / shutterstock.com

Some call it the cruel mystery. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can strike any part of the body, but the wide range of symptoms can be easily mistaken for something else. In this segment of KERA’s Vital Signs, Tessie Holloway, president of the Lupus Foundation of America’s North Texas chapter, discusses the disease and the need for greater awareness.

Shelley Kofler / KERA News

  The battle to help mentally ill people is personal for one state legislator.  Representative Garnet Coleman, a Houston Democrat, has bipolar disorder.

This week he participated in a mental health forum, Erasing the Stigma, which was sponsored by KERA, The Dallas Morning News, and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.

Then Rep. Coleman sat down to share his story.

Shutterstock

Why is there still such a stigma about mental illness? How can the community work together to better identify and help young adults struggling with it?

That's the topic of the public forum "Erasing The Stigma: Mental Illness and the Search for Solutions."

Take a look back at our live blog. Audio will be available on KERA News soon; look for video later in the week. And KERA-Channel 13 will air an edited version of the forum on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.

5 Key Questions About Mental Illness

Feb 5, 2013
Shutterstock

Two months ago, the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., shined a spotlight on two crucial issues: guns and mental health. Nationally, much of the attention has focused on gun laws and President Obama's call to strengthen them. But today, North Texas is focused on mental health -- and how to deal with mental illness. 

Antanith / Flickr

Bipolar disorder. Schizophrenia. Depression. These terms carry associations that are far from true. How will we set the record straight on these illnesses and steer people who struggle with them toward treatment? Before tonight's mental health forum at City Performance Hall, a special hour of Think explores how these issues manifest in North Texas at noon.

PeacockParables.com / flickr.com

Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and fever reducer found  in various brand-name products you may have at home – Tylenol, NyQuil or prescription drugs like Vicodin or Percocet. But using too much acetaminophen – and some people do – can lead to liver damage. Dr. Shannan Tujios of  UT Southwestern Medical Center talks about the dangers in this week’s edition of “Vital Signs.”

Justyna Kaminska / shutterstock.com

A health disparity from the 90s holds true: A recent study found African Americans are still at higher risk to die from a heart attack or heart failure than Whites. In this edition of “Vital Signs,” Dr. Tim Isaac, a cardiologist with Methodist Charlton Medical Center talked about the reasons why.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

Find a new doctor or scrounge up the money to pay for care -- that’s the choice for thousands of low-income Texas women. Jackie Jones is one of them. And even though the courts have upheld a decision to exclude Planned Parenthood from the state's Women’s Health Program, she says she’s sticking with her doctor, no matter what.

Courtesy Dr. Paul Grayburn

It almost sounds like a videogame. Inject a patient with tiny bubbles and use ultrasound waves to burst them open when they float to the right spot. While the term “microbubbles” may sound more whimsical than medical, a Dallas doctor is a national pioneer in using them to fight diabetes. And it's a technology that was born on the battlefield.

courtesy Dr. Paul Grayburn

Since microbubbles are smaller than half the size of a red blood cell, seeing them with the naked eye isn’t an option. But Dr. Jonathan Lindner was able to capture and enhance the image of microbubbles moving through capillaries in the body.

Can A Garbled Text Mean Stroke?

Jan 14, 2013

You probably get text messages often with misspellings and abbreviations.  But doctors say mistakes in texting  sometimes suggest a problem more serious than bad grammar.  

4 Good Ways To Get Rid Of Unused Medication

Jan 7, 2013
Thirteen Of Clubs / Flickr.com

Disposing of unused prescription drugs the wrong way can have serious consequences. Jeena Connor, Director of Pharmacy Services at Methodist Charlton Medical Center, explains in this segment of Vital Signs.

Mike Gifford / Flickr

As we prepare to pop the cork on champagne to welcome the New Year, Bryan Wasson, an internal medicine specialist at Baylor Medical Center in Irving, breaks down the effect of alcohol on the body.

North Texas has been more worried about West Nile virus lately -- with at least 35 deaths this year and hundreds of people sickened. But the granddaddy of mosquito-borne illnesses is still malaria, and NPR's Adam Cole explores how it spreads and how doctors have responded in this fun animated video. (Gin and tonic, anyone?)

A recent study found even light to moderate smoking (one to 12 cigarettes a day) can increase the risk in women of sudden cardiac death. SCD causes about 325,000 adult deaths in the U.S., and is  responsible for half of all heart disease deaths. In this segment of Vital Signs, Dr. Amir Choudhry, a cardiologist with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano, explains sudden cardiac death.

'Think' Like A Vegan

Dec 13, 2012

Two percent of Americans survive without meat or dairy products, according to a Gallup poll from July. Terry Romero, author of "Vegan Eats World: 300 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet," joins Krys Boyd at 1 p.m. for 'Think's first in-depth look at veganism. This point-counterpoint features the opinions of two scientists who debate the lifestyle and health implications of going vegan.

5 Key Questions In The Race Against Flu

Dec 12, 2012
Lance McCord / Flickr.com

Health officials say get a flu shot if you haven’t done so. The virus arrived early, hitting Texas and four other southern states harder than other regions. In this segment of Vital Signs, Dr. Shantala Samart, an infectious disease specialist with Methodist Charlton Medical Center, talks about the flu strains being seen in Texas and why the virus showed up early.

CDC

It’s the season when doctors and health officials urge you to get a flu shot. But not everyone can.

Hidden Calories In Alcoholic Drinks

Dec 3, 2012
i be GINZ / Flickr.com

Holiday meals and snacks pack on the pounds if you’re not careful, but so can drinking. In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Bradley Jones with Baylor Medical Center Irving tells how and why alcohol can add to your waistline.

Blood Donations: The Gift That Keeps Giving

Nov 26, 2012
Carter Blood Care

During the holidays when thoughts turn to gift giving, organizations like American Red Cross and Carter Blood Care tend to see fewer donations. Dr. Lesley Kresie, Carter's medical director of laboratory services, explains why in this week’s segment of “Vital Signs.”

Six Facts About How Blood Donations Are Used:

Whole blood, kept cool in refrigerators, can be transfused for 21 days after the donation.

UT Southwestern Medical Center

Scientists studying cancer cells in humans commonly transplant them to grow human tumors in mice. It’s called a xenograft.  Problem is the tumors don’t always grow in mice as they would in patients. But scientists at U-T Southwestern Medical Center have developed a xenograft model that consistently works in the study of skin cancer. Dr. Sean Morrison authored a study on this subject and talks about it in this week’s edition of KERA's Vital Signs.

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