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. 

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. 

Cooper Neill / Texas Tribune

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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KERA’s recent Breakthroughs series “Growing Up After Cancer” profiled a North Texas boy named Jude Cobler. He was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia when he was 5 years old. In April, Jude's leukemia relapsed.

Brittney Tatchell / Smithsonian Institution

Nearly two decades after an ancient skeleton was discovered in Kennewick, Washington, scientists finally have a better idea about its hotly-debated origins. SMU anthropologist David Meltzer co-authored a recent study into what’s been dubbed the Kennewick Man. 

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In this edition of the KERA series, Vital Signs, the risk of drowning in portable pools.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission has estimated one death every five days during warm weather months occurs in portable pools - from above-ground types to the small inflatable or "kiddie" pools.

Shelli Stephens-Stidham, Director of the Injury Prevention Center of Greater Dallas at Parkland Hospital System, talks about what leads to such incidents.

UT-Southwestern Medical Center

There’s some big news coming out Friday from UT-Southwestern Medical Center: It’s been named a comprehensive cancer center.

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144,000 Texans sustain a traumatic brain injury each year—that’s one every 4 minutes. For those who survive there’s often cognitive and psychological difficulties, like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

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State health officials have reported dozens of cases statewide this summer of stomach-related illnesses from cyclospora, a parasite. Several of those cases have been in North Texas.

Some parts of the body repair themselves. Skin, for instance. Bone, even the liver.

Heart muscle does not.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

In Dallas, the $800 million Clements University Hospital opened to patients in December. Later this summer, the $1.3 billion dollar Parkland Memorial Hospital will open. Dallas Morning News architecture critic Mark Lamster says despite their high-tech gadgets, both hospitals are lacking the human touch. 

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Hospital stays can be stressful for anyone. Worse, though, for about seven million patients each year who suffer from delirium. It’s a sudden state of confusion that can last from hours to days and well after release.

Megan Wheeler, an adult clinical nurse specialist, has been involved in Baylor Scott White Health’s research on preventing delirium in elderly patients. 

After giving birth, some women save the placenta in order to consume it in the following weeks. In fact, Texas just passed a law giving women the right to take the placenta home from the hospital, the third state to do so.

Science doesn't support a lot of the claims of its purported benefits. But for Melissa Mathis, it's about her rights. Last year she had her baby, Betsy, in a Dallas hospital. When Mathis took Betsy home, she wanted to take the placenta home, too.

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Texas health officials are investigating an outbreak of a stomach illness caused by consuming food or water contaminated with feces.

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