Richard Harris Award-winning journalist Richard Harris reports on biomedical research for NPR's newsmagazines, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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Richard Harris 2010
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Richard Harris

Correspondent, Science Desk

Award-winning journalist Richard Harris has reported on a wide range of topics in science, medicine and the environment since he joined NPR in 1986. In early 2014, his focus shifted from an emphasis on climate change and the environment to biomedical research.

Harris has traveled to all seven continents for NPR. His reports have originated from Timbuktu, the South Pole, the Galapagos Islands, Beijing during the SARS epidemic, the center of Greenland, the Amazon rain forest, the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro (for a story about tuberculosis), and Japan to cover the nuclear aftermath of the 2011 tsunami.
In 2010, Harris' reporting revealed that the blown-out BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was spewing out far more oil than asserted in the official estimates. That revelation led the federal government to make a more realistic assessment of the extent of the spill.

Harris covered climate change for decades. He reported from the United Nations climate negotiations, starting with the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and including Kyoto in 1997 and Copenhagen in 2009. Harris was a major contributor to NPR's award-winning 2007-2008 "Climate Connections" series.

Over the course of his career, Harris has been the recipient of many prestigious awards. Those include the American Geophysical Union's 2013 Presidential Citation for Science and Society. He shared the 2009 National Academy of Sciences Communication Award and was a finalist again in 2011. In 2002, Harris was elected an honorary member of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society. Harris shared a 1995 Peabody Award for investigative reporting on NPR about the tobacco industry. Since 1988, the American Association for the Advancement of Science has honored Harris three times with its science journalism award.

Before joining NPR, Harris was a science writer for the San Francisco Examiner. From 1981 to 1983, Harris was a staff writer at The Tri-Valley Herald in Livermore, California, covering science, technology, and health issues related to the nuclear weapons lab in Livermore. He started his career as an AAAS Mass Media Science Fellow at the now-defunct Washington (DC) Star.

Harris is co-founder of the Washington, D.C., Area Science Writers Association, and is past president of the National Association of Science Writers. He serves on the board of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

A California native, Harris returned to the University of California-Santa Cruz in 2012, to give a commencement address at Crown College, where he had given a valedictory address at his own graduation. He earned a bachelor's degree at the school in biology, with highest honors.

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Scientists Edge Closer To A Blood Test To Detect Cancers

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White House Physician Says Trump Is In 'Excellent Health'

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Ben and Tara Stern relax at home in Essex, Md. Ben was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2016. After conventional treatment failed to stop the tumor, Ben tried an experimental drug. Meredith Rizzo/NPR hide caption

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For Now, Sequencing Cancer Tumors Holds More Promise Than Proof

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Study participants often answer questions differently, depending on the questioner's gender. Sex hormones can affect results, too. sanjeri/Getty Images hide caption

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A Scientist's Gender Can Skew Research Results

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Teapot Is A Reminder Of The Remarkable 1922 Rose Bowl Game

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Mine Cicek, an assistant professor at the Mayo Clinic, processes samples for the All of Us program. Richard Harris/NPR hide caption

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Researchers Gather Health Data For 'All Of Us'

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Careful custody of blood tests and tissue samples is essential to the success of precision medicine. David Silverman/Getty Images hide caption

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Precision Medical Treatments Have A Quality Control Problem

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Volunteer Greg Ruegsegger is outfitted with monitors, a catheter threaded into a vein and a mask to capture his breath in an experiment run by Joyner to measure human performance. Richard Harris/NPR hide caption

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Will Gathering Vast Troves of Information Really Lead To Better Health?

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Bacterial cells can now read a synthetic genetic code and use it to assemble proteins containing man-made parts. Gary Bates/Ikon Images/Getty Images hide caption

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Scientists Train Bacteria To Build Unnatural Proteins

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Emily Blair, a medical assistant at the Colon, Stomach and Liver Center in Lansdowne, Va., takes a blood pressure reading for Robert Koenen. New guidelines say that patients should have their arm resting on a surface while taking a reading and both feet should be placed flat on the ground. Josh Loock/NPR hide caption

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Odds Are, They're Taking Your Blood Pressure All Wrong

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Researchers grew sheets of genetically altered skin cells in the lab and used them to treat a boy with life-threatening epidermolysis bullosa. CMR Unimore/Nature hide caption

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Genetically Altered Skin Saves A Boy Dying Of A Rare Disease

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A study of chemotherapy medicines produced by 10 companies found that, on average, each drug produced seven times as much revenue for its manufacturer as it cost in research and development. BrianAJackson/iStockphoto/Getty Images hide caption

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R&D Costs For Cancer Drugs Are Likely Much Less Than Industry Claims, Study Finds

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Arthritis is a joint disease that can cause cartilage destruction and erosion of the bone, as well as tendon inflammation and rupture. Affected areas are highlighted in red in this enhanced X-ray. Philippe Sellem/Paul Demri/ Voisin/Science Source hide caption

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6,000-Year-Old Knee Joints Suggest Osteoarthritis Isn't Just Wear And Tear

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A vaccine against heroin wouldn't be like the measles vaccine that you receive once for a lifetime of immunity, say scientists working on it. Multiple shots per year would likely be required, and it would be specific to just heroin and morphine. kimberrywood/Getty Images hide caption

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A 'Vaccine For Addiction' Is No Simple Fix

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