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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Dr. Donna Persaud, ​chief of Pediatric Community Medicine at Parkland Hospital System, talks about potential problems from the types of soap we use – especially anti-bacterial soap.

Gil Gillam, artist and attorney with Gillam & Smith LLP in Marshall, Texas.

East Texas is known for its Piney Woods, Caddo Lake, maybe for sweet potatoes. It’s also the patent lawsuit capitol of the country. More patent infringement cases are brought to Eastern District courts than anywhere else. There’s pressure to root out the so-called “patent trolls”.

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We examine real-life health issues in our series, Vital Signs. In this episode, dementia.

Actor and comedian Robin Williams was being treated for Parkinson’s Disease when he committed suicide in 2014, but the autopsy showed signs of Lewy Body Dementia.

Dr. Angela Bentle, a geriatrics specialist at Methodist Charlton Medical Center, talked about the often misdiagnosed disorder.

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Doctors across the country will be trying out a new treatment for traumatic brain injury. UT Southwestern, the National Institutes of Health and other partners announced today that they’ll study a new drug that could help stop bleeding in the brain.

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An agency within the World Health Organization recently concluded eating processed or cured meats like bacon or hot dogs – as well as red meat – can lead to colon cancer.

The Director of the Master of Clinical Nutrition--Coordinated Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center says not quite. Dr. Jo Ann Carson has researched ties between food and cancer for decades. In this edition of "Vital Signs," she explains why the report did not surprise her.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

For the first time since it opened in 1790, the United States Patent and Trademark Office is expanding outside of Washington, D.C. The agency – which has a team of more than 8,000 patent examiners – has established regional offices in four cities across the United States, including Dallas.

 

Steve Jennings / Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize

Over the weekend, a UT Southwestern geneticist won one of science’s biggest awards.

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Manufacturers say the flu vaccine for this season is much more effective than last year’s. However, two new studies suggest flu vaccines in general may not work as well if you take statins.

In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says the studies aren't definitive, but the results are provocative.

Doctors in Austin are trying to urgently match five-year-old Leland with a new kidney. He’s on dialysis, and in the highest and most urgent category of patients needing a new organ.

His situation is an example of the pressing need for organ donors in Texas and across the U.S.


Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Treating complex hand wounds often involves wrapping gauze and bandages around the injury to the point of making any movement impossible. The “boxing glove” look is problematic because the joints in the fingers can easily become stiff — making it harder to recover mobility later on. Researchers at UT Arlington are developing a specialized glove that can deliver medicine to an injured hand to help speed up healing time and make the process less painful.

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According to the American Diabetes Association, studies show people with diabetes have a greater risk of depression than those without.  

Dr. Rhonda Goen, a psychiatrist with Parkland Hospital System, explains.

About 1 million Texans have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act since enrollment efforts began in 2013. That might sound like a lot, but Texas still has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country.

Nate Rice / The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

A North Texas scientist is working to revive a bird that went extinct 80 years ago.

This is no Halloween prank.

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Fans of red and green chili peppers rejoice. The taste and heat you savor also comes with some health benefits.  Sharon Cox, a dietitian with Parkland Hospital System, has some details.

Jonathan Bender

Even with the connections of a former NBA player, becoming an entrepreneur isn’t easy.

Brian Cuban

As a teenager, a 20-something, and even into his 40s, Brian Cuban looked in the mirror and saw something that wasn’t really there. The younger brother of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has something called Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

Dark Hour Haunted House

Every Halloween, millions of people pay to be scared. Did you know professional haunted houses use high-tech scare methods to make you scream? In 2014, we visited Plano’s year-round haunted house with a neuroscientist to find out what makes a good scare. 

Health Wildcatters

Ten young companies from across the world snagged a spot in the 2015 class of Health Wildcatters. Some entrepreneurs have developed products – one for reducing the risk of stroke, another for easy eye exams – others, health services – like fast access to specialists through telemedicine and bilingual wellness programs for employers. Each company gets $35,000 in seed money and space to work for three months.

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For months now, there’s been debate in the medical community about mammograms. When to start getting them? How often? How effective are they even?

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About 5 million people in the U.S. live with a condition causing the heart to weaken over time. Exercise can reduce the risk of heart failure, but a new study from cardiologists at U-T Southwestern Medical Center suggests adults need more exercise than the recommended federal minimum for a significant reduction.

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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.

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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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