Richard Harris Award-winning journalist Richard Harris reports on biomedical research for NPR's newsmagazines, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Rod-shaped specimens of Yersinia pestis, the bacterial cause of plague, find a happy home here in the foregut of a flea. Fleas can transmit the infection to animals and people, who can get pneumonic plague and transmit the infection through a cough or kiss. Science Source hide caption

toggle caption
Science Source

Small Plague Outbreak In People Tracked To Pit Bull

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/403304964/403362686" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A man stands near collapsed houses in Bhaktapur, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, on April 27, two days after a magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit Nepal. Aftershocks tend to get less frequent with time, scientists say, but not necessarily gentler. Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images

Big Aftershocks In Nepal Could Persist For Years

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/402576900/402632482" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Sequencing the genes of a cancer cell turns up lots of genetic mutations — but some of them are harmless. The goal is to figure out which mutations are the troublemakers. Kevin Curtis/Science Source hide caption

toggle caption
Kevin Curtis/Science Source

Personalizing Cancer Treatment With Genetic Tests Can Be Tricky

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/399821134/399937779" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The blood cancer in soft-shell clams poses no risk to humans, but it does kill the shellfish. Pat Wellenbach/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Pat Wellenbach/AP

Clam Cancer Spreads Along Eastern Seaboard

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/398817089/398824639" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

For someone 2.5 inches shorter than average, the risk of coronary artery disease increases by about 13.5 percent, scientists found. PW Illustration/Ikon Images/Corbis hide caption

toggle caption
PW Illustration/Ikon Images/Corbis

Link Between Heart Disease And Height Hidden In Our Genes

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/397895789/398342073" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

There's a widely held assumption that a slight imbalance in male births has its start at the very moment of conception. But researchers say factors later in pregnancy are more likely to explain the phenomenon. CNRI/Science Source hide caption

toggle caption
CNRI/Science Source

Why Are More Baby Boys Born Than Girls?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/396384911/396505344" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Vidhya Nagarajan for NPR

Why The War On Cancer Hasn't Been Won

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/394132747/394906617" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Glenn Lightner in 2012 at age 13. His father searched clinicaltrials.gov for years, to no avail, hoping to find a promising experimental cancer treatment that might save his son's life. Courtesy of Lawrence Lightner hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of Lawrence Lightner

Results Of Many Clinical Trials Not Being Reported

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/392355433/392375506" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

It's a good start when experimental compounds stop the proliferation of cancer cells in the lab. But, as many researchers have learned the hard way, that's just an early step toward creating a worthwhile treatment. Science Source hide caption

toggle caption
Science Source

A Biological Quest Leads To A New Kind Of Breast Cancer Drug

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/386096296/387554286" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Tobacco smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to die from infection, kidney disease and, maybe, breast cancer. iStockphoto hide caption

toggle caption
iStockphoto

Smoking's Death Toll May Be Higher Than Anyone Knew

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/385498822/385646999" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Dr. Margaret Hamburg will have served almost six years as FDA commissioner by the time she leaves, far longer than the recent tenure for chiefs of the agency. J. David Ake/AP hide caption

toggle caption
J. David Ake/AP

FDA Commissioner Hamburg Grappled With Global Challenges

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/384100663/384119730" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A nurse administers an experimental Ebola vaccine Monday at Redemption Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. Researchers aim to give shots to 27,000 people during the large trial. John Moore/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
John Moore/Getty Images

Lack Of Patients Hampers Ebola Drug And Vaccine Testing

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/383316715/383346127" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Harvard University student Elana Simon introduces President Obama before he spoke at the White House Friday about an initiative to encourage research into more precise medicine. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Augustine Goba (right) heads the laboratory at Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone. He and colleagues analyzed the viral genetics in blood samples from 78 Ebola patients early in the epidemic. Stephen Gire/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Stephen Gire/AP

Could This Virus Be Good For You?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/382260897/382588014" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript