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. 

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If you’ve ever wondered where your data is stored – maybe those family vacation photos, your medical records, podcasts – they could be here: in a highly-secure, grey building north of Dallas called Digital Realty.

Center for BrainHealth

This week, the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas is starting construction on a new institute – and it’s shaped like a brain.

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A new study of nearly 1,400 patients with an average age of 60 has identified midlife obesity as a risk factor for early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dr. Angela Bentle, a geriatrics and internal medicine specialist with Methodist Charlton Medical Center, has concerns about the results. But she says it’s still a reason enough to watch your weight.

Lauren Silverman/KERA News

Fewer African-American men applied to medical school last year compared to 1978. To find out why, we talked with medical students and doctors who are bucking that trend.

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About 120 over 80 is considered normal blood pressure. But blood pressure can run higher as you get older – around 140.  Doctors wanting to lower that systolic number finally have an ideal target thanks to a study of more than 9,300 seniors called SPRINT.

Wendi Bates

When Caitlyn Jenner shared her story of transition from male to female she put the transgender community in the spotlight. She also focused attention on a specific surgery, known as facial feminization.

Have you ever thought about what makes a face feminine? I’m not talking lipstick here, but something deeper.

According to one of the surgeons who pioneered facial feminization surgery, what makes a face feminine isn’t easy to define.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

In this edition of Vital Signs: caffeine. Rather than use the natural caffeine you get in food or drinks for stimulation, some instead mix in man-made caffeine powder for a bigger jolt.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

A year after Ebola arrived in Dallas, it might seem like hospitals and clinics are back to normal – except for the leftover hand sanitizer pumps and the occasional sign warning about international travel.

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In this edition of Vital Signs, treating children with asthma. Doctors usually choose between two steroids to treat acute attacks that require a hospital stay. But a new study in the "Journal of Pediatrics" found one of the steroids – dexamethasone -- had additional benefits for hospitals, patients and their parents.

UNT Health Science Center

There’s a serious doctor shortage in Texas.

Catching up will be hard to do, but three new medical degree programs in the state are scheduled to open classes in 2018, including a joint program in Fort Worth between the UNT Health Science Center and Texas Christian University.

So what impact will the new schools have?

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In this edition of our series, Vital Signs, a synthetic drug that’s caused chaos in Florida and has begun to show up in Texas. Flakka is a highly addictive substance sold cheaply over the Internet, and it’s posing a serious risk for the young people who use it. 

Mark Thiessen / National Geographic

Paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, who discovered a new human-like species, is coming to Dallas. He’ll speak at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science Sept. 29. 

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As our devices get smarter, they also are at risk of more sophisticated cyber security attacks.

Yes, that car connected to the internet makes tracking trips and monitoring teen drivers easier, but it also means killing the motor with a few keystrokes is no longer science fiction.

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In this edition of our series on real-life health issues, Vital Signs: Children suffering from pain. The Food and Drug Administration has approved OxyContin for use with children ages 11 through 16. 

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A year ago this month, the first patient diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil entered Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas. On Friday, the hospital is releasing findings from an independent panel that reviewed what happened and what went wrong.

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Four volunteers recently went on a zero gravity ride with the help of NASA in Houston – in the name of science.

Imagine you’re flying in a plane, high above the Gulf of Mexico — and then you start to fall. Eight thousand feet in just 30 seconds.

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Last week, Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk announced she’s taking a four-week leave of absence to seek treatment for depression. Today on Think, Krys Boyd talked to a UT-Southwestern psychiatrist about depression in the workplace.

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UT Arlington professor Sahadat Hossain is standing on an enormous mound of dirt at the city of Denton landfill, smiling. Because he’s literally turning trash into treasure.

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We examine real-life health issues in our series, Vital Signs, and in this edition - saturated fats. We’ve long been told eating less of it prevents heart disease. But a study out this month in the journal BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) says it’s not that simple. Caroline Susie, a registered dietitian with Methodist Health System, explains.

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The majority of patients with depression have problems with sleep, usually insomnia. But about 10 to 12 percent have the opposite problem.

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College students, like grade schoolers, also face vaccinations before heading off to school. After hundreds of cases reported on college campuses a few years ago, Texas in 2011 required a shot against bacterial meningitis for all college students.

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In this segment of Vital Signs, some new hope for patients with vitiligo. It's an auto-immune disease that causes you to lose color in your skin. Vitiligo isn't life-threatening for the two million people in the U-S who have it, but it can be very stressful.

Dr. Amit Pandya, a professor of Dermatology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, talked about vitiligo and a treatment he’s refined to restore the discoloration.

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This summer, dozens of mosquitos in testing sites across North Texas have turned up positive for West Nile virus. It’s nothing like the record year of 2012 when 89 people died across Texas. So far this year, only two human cases of the virus have been reported in North Texas. But the dry weather that's come after big rains could mean we're in for a long skeeter season.

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There used to be a standard treatment for hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause: hormone replacement therapy. But in 2002, studies showed a possible link to cancer and what was once standard practice became a rare prescription. Since then, scientists have been searching for alternative therapies. Recently, a biochemist at UNT Health Science Center found a drug that looks promising.

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The medical journal Pediatrics recently published study results on a new tool developed to help doctors identify children under two with abusive head trauma. Some call it shaken baby syndrome.

Dr. Glenn Hardesty has witnessed such cases as an emergency room physician at Texas Health Arlington Memorial. He explained the medical and legal reasons for the new tool.

Amanda Siegfried / UT Dallas

Carbon nanotubes are a kind of material that might be used for everything from reinforcing muscles to conducting electricity. A new variant of the substance created at the University of Texas at Dallas could unlock a future of bendable technology. Ray Baughman runs the NanoTech Institute at UT Dallas

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says cilantro imported from Puebla, Mexico is likely the cause for hundreds of cases of cyclosporiasis in the last two years.

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Many just roll up pot and light a match. But  a growing  number of people are going to dangerous lengths to get a greater buzz.  It involves extracting the active ingredient from marijuana and turning it into a wax-like substance. You then heat a small bit or “dab” of it and inhale the vapor.

In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Ashley Haynes of the North Texas Poison Center explained to why pot dabbing is a bad idea.

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The Americans with Disabilities Act opened up services and opportunities for people with disabilities. Twenty-five years later, North Texas developers are testing new technologies with the disabled community in mind.

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In this edition of Vital Signs, a growing trend in social media called sunburn art: Using various materials and deliberate overexposure in the sun to create patterns on the body.

Dr. Travis Vandergriff is an attending Dermatologist with Parkland Hospital System and an Assistant Professor in the Dermatology department of UT Southwestern Medical Center. He explained how sunburn art works and why he considers it dangerous.

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