Gabriel Spitzer

Health & Science Reporter / Assistant News Director

Gabriel Spitzer covers health and science at KPLU, after a year covering youth and education. He joined KPLU after years covering science, health and the environment at WBEZ in Chicago. There, he created the award-winning mini-show, Clever Apes. Having also lived in Alaska and California, Gabriel feels he’s been closing in on Seattle for some time, and has finally landed on the bullseye.

Gabriel received his Master's of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and his degree in English at Cornell University. He’s been honored with the Kavli Science Journalism Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and won awards from the Association of Health Care Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists and Public Radio News Directors, Inc. He lives in West Seattle with his wife Ashley and their two sons, Ezra and Oliver.

Gabriel’s most memorable KPLU moment was: “In just my second week here, I found myself covering the unfolding story of a mass shooting and citywide manhunt. It was a tragic and chaotic day, when the public badly needed someone to sort the facts from the rumors. It made me proud of our profession.”

Pages

Infectious Diseases
9:30 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Enterovirus Confirmed In Two Kids Hospitalized In Seattle

Seattle Children's Hospital has admitted more than 20 children with suspected Enterovirus-D68 infections.
Seattle Children's Hospital

Health officials have confirmed that two patients treated at Seattle Children’s Hospital have tested positive for Enterovirus D68. That puts Washington in the company of 18 other states with confirmed cases of the virus, which mainly sickens children and is especially dangerous for kids with asthma and other respiratory conditions.

The two Children’s patients were stabilized and discharged, according to a statement by the hospital. One is from King County and the other from Snohomish.

Read more
World Population
2:49 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

UW Researchers Forecast More Crowded Planet, Warn Population Could Hit 11 Billion

World population could hit 11 billion by the year 2100.
NASA

The planet could be much more crowded by the end of the century than previously thought, according to a new report by University of Washington researchers.

That contradicts a general consensus that world population growth is likely to stabilize before long. The population has been expected to rise from the current seven billion or so to about nine billion, before leveling off and possibly declining.

But new projections, based on new statistical models, suggest the numbers will not tail off after all. Instead, statistician and sociologist Adrian Raftery said we could hit 11 billion and counting by century’s end.

Read more
Charitable Giving
5:01 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Seattle Nonprofit Veteran Says Push To Cut 'Overhead' Starves Charities

File image
401(K) 2012 Flickr

If you’re a shareholder in a company, you probably want that business to run as efficiently as possible. Lately it’s gotten easier to apply that mentality to nonprofit charities, too, with online rating sites that score charities on how much of your gift goes directly to the mission, and, in some cases, call out organizations with high overhead.

It sounds like a smart way to give, but Eric Walker says it’s a troubling trend.

“Wouldn’t that be a good thing if 99 cents of my dollar went to the soup in the soup kitchen?” Walker asked. “The problem is there's a whole bunch of work to put that soup in the pot and get it to the soup kitchen that there’s nobody to pay for.”

Read more
Public Health
5:55 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

King County Clinic Gets Reprieve, But Cloud Still Hangs Over Public Health Budget

The Greenbridge clinic in White Center will stay open, at least for the next couple of years, thanks to help from Seattle and Planned Parenthood.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

A King County public health clinic slated for closure is getting a bailout, but three more clinics remain on the line as the health department confronts a big budget shortfall.

The public health clinic at White Center has been on borrowed time this year, along with clinics in Auburn, Bothell and Federal Way. Now the city of Seattle is proposing to kick in $400,000 to keep it open. Public Health Seattle & King County will continue providing WIC services and other support for new mothers, but will turn its family planning services there over to Planned Parenthood.

Read more
Infectious Diseases
3:17 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Kids Sick With Suspected Enterovirus Hospitalized At Seattle Children's Hospital

Jenny Ingram Flickr

A virus that has sickened children across the Midwest may have arrived in western Washington. Public health officials said 15 children have been hospitalized at Seattle Children’s Hospital, including five in intensive care, with symptoms that match infection from Enterovirus D-68.

That virus has sent at least 84 children to the hospital in states from Colorado to Kentucky, but this appears to be the first sign of it on the West Coast. The virus usually causes cold-like illness, but sometimes comes with severe respiratory symptoms like coughing and difficulty breathing.

Read more
Fracking
5:00 am
Wed September 10, 2014

UW Study Raises Questions About Possible Health Hazards Of 'Fracking'

UW and Yale researchers investigated whether people living near fracking operations, like this one in Pennsylvania, reported more health problems.
WCN 24/7

Residents of a rural Pennsylvania county who live near natural gas wells reported more health problems than their neighbors who live farther away. That and other findings by a University of Washington researcher raise questions about the health effects of the practice known as fracking.

Researchers went door to door in tiny Washington County, in southwestern Pennsylvania, where gas is extracted by underground hydraulic fracturing. They didn’t tell residents they were there investigating fracking, calling it simply a general environmental health survey. They asked randomly selected households representing almost 500 people about a number of different of symptoms.

Read more
Scientific Achievement
9:41 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

UW Researcher, Mother Of The 'Breast Cancer Gene,' Wins Prestigious Award

UW geneticist Mary-Claire King won the Lasker Award for her wide-ranging work applying genetics to complex problems.
University of Washington

A researcher in genetics at the University of Washington has won a prominent award, sometimes referred to as the American version of the Nobel Prize, in part for a key contribution to understanding breast cancer.

Mary-Claire King knew that breast cancer runs in some families, but it wasn’t clear why. In the 1970s and '80s, genetic research was much more cumbersome and expensive than it is today, and the very idea that a gene could trigger a complex disease like cancer was controversial.

Read more
Street Culture
5:01 am
Mon September 8, 2014

How This Musician Made Seattle Street Performing Legal 40 Years Ago

Longtime Seattle busker Jim Page was instrumental in getting the ordinance passed to legalize street performing in 1974.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

The Seattle City Council is marking a cultural anniversary Monday: 40 years of legal busking in the city. Seattle musician Jim Page was behind the ordinance that legalized street performing back in 1974.

Page said he was playing guitar and singing one day in front of Oliver’s Meats, near Pike Place Market.

“I’m just singing along, and a motorcycle police officer pulled over,” Page said. “And he shouted at me over his motor and said, ‘Do you have a permit?’ I said no. He said, ‘Next time I see you,, I’ll give you a ticket.’”

Page said he offered to get a license, but was told he couldn’t do that, since he was not blind.

Read more
Early Childhood Education
5:55 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Court Ruling Sets Up Fight Between Two Seattle Early Learning Plans

Seth Wenig AP Photo

An appeals court has affirmed that a pair of early education ballot measures will appear on the ballot not as two yes-or-no votes, but as a multiple-choice question.

The ruling upholds an earlier decision, which established that Seattle voters who support expanding preschool can’t vote “yes” on both the measures before them in November. Instead, they’ll have to pick which one they like best.

It’s a victory for the city, which has proposed a small preschool program as a step toward universal pre-K. That plan will now go head-to-head with a union-backed measure to create a training institute for educators and hike their pay.

Read more
Pot Moratorium
2:01 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Citing State Law, Judge Upholds Fife's Pot Ban; No Comment On Federal Preemption

FILE - This July 1, 2014, photo shows marijuana plants in containers at Sea of Green Farms, a recreational pot grower in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

The city of Fife’s ban on recreational marijuana will stand, following a ruling by a Pierce County judge Friday.

Judge Ronald Culpepper said local jurisdictions have the right to opt out of marijuana legalization under state law. He added the pot shop owners who brought the suit did not meet the burden of proof necessary to overturn the ban in Fife.

Read more
Pot Moratorium
3:26 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Legal Spat Over Pot Shops In Tiny Fife Imperils Washington's Whole Marijuana Law

FILE - Clerk Havilah Nokes arranges packets of marijuana for sale at Cannabis City on the first day of legal recreational pot sales Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

A court case in Pierce County Friday will decide whether the city of Fife can ban marijuana businesses. But it could have a much larger side effect, putting Washington’s entire system for regulating legal pot in peril.

A handful of pot businesses are challenging Fife’s right to keep them out. The city is presenting two defenses. First, city officials say state law lets them opt out — a point on which they have backing from Washington’s attorney general. But if that fails, they have a second argument, which raises the stakes considerably: They say federal law trumps Initiative 502, and should strike most of it down.

Read more
Brain Science
5:01 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Seattle Scientists Find Brain Area Linked To Motivation To Exercise

Mice without a functioning dorsal medial habenula didn't feel like running in their wheels.
Kaytee Rlek Flickr

Seattle scientists have zeroed in on a part of the brain that seems to have an interesting job: motivating the brain’s owner to exercise. The findings could have implications for understanding depression.

The dorsal medial habenula is a little structure tucked inside the brain, above the brainstem. Psychiatrist Eric Turner of Seattle Children’s Research Institute knew it had something to do with regulating mood, but not a lot more.

“People asked me, 'Well, what does it do?' And I actually didn’t know. And when I looked it up I found that very little is known about this area of the brain,” he said.

Read more
Women Entrepreneurs
3:23 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Cantwell Takes Aim At Gender Gap In Access To Business Loans

File image
Paul Morigi/Invision for JPMorgan Chase & Co./AP Images

Women entrepreneurs aren’t getting the same access to business loans as their male counterparts nationwide, and a new report shows the gender gap is even bigger in Washington.

Women own about 30 percent of American businesses, but get just 13 percent of the dollars lent by the federal Small Business Administration. In Washington, it’s just 11 percent, according to a new report commissioned by a U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, chaired by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. 

Read more
Legal Marijuana
4:09 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Wash. Attorney General: If You Like Legal Marijuana, Support Local Pot Bans

In this photo taken July 1, 2014, a one-gram packet of a variety of recreational marijuana named "Space Needle" is shown during packaging operations at Sea of Green Farms in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson has intervened in a lawsuit over whether local governments can keep marijuana businesses out. Ferguson says if you want pot to stay legal in Washington, you should want cities to be allowed to ban it.  

The city of Fife, like many others around Washington, has said it won’t allow pot businesses within city limits. A couple of would-be entrepreneurs sued the city to overturn the ban.

Read more
Space
4:00 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

UW Astronomer Gets His Hands On Pieces Of Far-Flung Stars

False color image of diffraction pattern from Orion.
Zack Gainsforth

An unmanned NASA research mission led by a Seattle scientist has caught what are believed to be seven tiny pieces of distant stars and brought them back to Earth.

The Stardust Mission sent a spacecraft on three trips around the sun, dipping into an extremely faint jet of interstellar particles flowing into the solar system. It grabbed seven motes of interstellar dust, giving us a glimpse of what stars other than the Sun are like.

Read more

Pages