Keith Seinfeld

Health & Science Reporter/Assistant News Director

Keith Seinfeld has been KPLU’s Health & Science Reporter since 2001, and prior to that covered the Environment beat. He’s been a staff reporter at The Seattle Times and The News Tribune in Tacoma and a freelance writer-producer. His work has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Keith's stories prior to Nov. 2010 can be found at our old website archives. And, more stories are at his KPLU blog, Science and Wonder.

You can also check out his "Weather with Cliff Mass" weekly interviews.

Keith’s most memorable KPLU radio moment: “Watching brain surgery on a patient with Parkinson’s Disease. When the doctor pulled out a pretty hefty hand-held drill, I realized: It may be a hi-tech procedure, but you still have to put a hole in the skull, while the patient’s awake.”

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dying too young
1:10 pm
Wed June 15, 2011

Longevity: Is your community more like Albania or like Sweden?

Female life expectancies in Washington vary a lot by county.
IHME

If you live in certain counties in Washington, your life probably won’t be much longer than someone's in Albania or Mexico. On the other hand, the healthiest counties have life expectancies similar to Switzerland and Sweden.

This comes from new research showing life expectancy in many American communities is failing to keep up with the rest of the world. And the growing health gap is affecting women more than men.

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painkillers and addiction
6:01 pm
Wed June 8, 2011

Drug abuse trends: Deaths down, with an insidious twist

Ashley Rose Flickr

You've probably heard the under-world of drug abuse has taken on a new face over the past decade, with the rise of prescription pill addicts.

The story is more nuanced than that. But before looking at the nuance, here are a few surprising facts and a disturbing trend.

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addiction and abuse
2:48 pm
Wed June 8, 2011

Prescription drug abuse deaths take a surprising drop

There’s a glimmer of hope in the struggle against prescription drug abuse.  For the first time, the number of overdose deaths from painkillers has gone down in King County. It’s also fallen statewide.

Unfortunately, people hooked on painkillers may be turning to heroin. Heroin abuse used to be confined to Washington's cities -- primarily Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane and Everett. Now, it's appearing for the first time in small towns and rural areas.

KPLU's complete report.

seattle center neighborhood
6:01 am
Fri June 3, 2011

Gates' "conspicuous" new building

Melinda Gates speaks at the opening reception of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle.The foundation formally opened the new headquarters Thursday evening.
Elaine Thompson AP

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is trying to make its work more conspicuous.  That’s one explanation the billionaire couple gave for its new campus during a grand-opening event Thursday night.

About a thousand people packed into the campus' new grand atrium, which has a wall of glass four stories tall. 

Bill Gates spoke briefly, thanking his parents for setting an example of civic volunteerism. He quickly turned the microphone to his wife, saying, "The person who really had responsibility was Melinda, and let me thank her as I invite her to the stage."

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Science
12:01 am
Fri June 3, 2011

Thirty years of AIDS in Washington, USA

Thirty years ago this month, the first cases of AIDS were identified by the medical community. It was still a mystery disease. A strange form of pneumonia was striking young men in Los Angeles. Since then, the epidemic has been a dramatic roller-coaster of death, disease, politics and what some people call the greatest medical success story of the past half century. 

(This interactive timeline is from the federal AIDS.gov website. Click and scroll for dates and highlights.)

I sat down with Dr. Bob Wood, one of the most prominent local faces of AIDS and the fight to contain it, to discuss the highlights and low points. You can listen to the interview by clicking on "Audio."

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seattle center
3:08 pm
Thu June 2, 2011

Gates family, employees celebrate opening of new campus

The Gates Foundation's new headquarters in Seattle is meant to look "bold."
Tom Paulson KPLU-Humanosphere

More than a thousand workers at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have moved into their new campus across the street from Seattle Center. Celebrations are planned tonight (Thursday) and this weekend. Foundation leaders say they want to be more visible to the public.

(A public open-house is this Saturday, from 10am-4pm. Advance registration is required, here.)

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urban growth
9:59 pm
Mon May 30, 2011

Gates Foundation big campus opens across from Seattle Center

NBBJ Architects

Everything about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is looking big these days.

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Sound and urban environments
8:01 am
Mon May 23, 2011

Measuring noise with people in mind: Soundscapes

How peaceful is this scene? Acoustic engineer Brigitte Schulte-Fortkamp finds Seattle's Westlake Park "too noisy" to enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee.
Keith Seinfeld KPLU

There are probably places near where you live or work where it’s pretty noisy. The definition of what’s too loud is highly technical. Now, acoustical engineers have developed a new way of measuring noise that includes how it feels.

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Designer molecules
4:44 pm
Thu May 12, 2011

Engineering a new way to block the flu virus

A bright-green engineered protein molecule is binding to a portion of the influenza virus (in yellow and gray), showing the complicated surface, with its crevices and bulges.
Sarel Fleishman U.W.

Seattle researchers have created a new way to fight the flu virus, and potentially pave the way for a new class of medicines.

You probably remember how the flu pandemic two years ago eventually included such a scramble to get the vaccine that people stood in long lines -- and even lied about the ages of their children to get it earlier. It takes months to make influenza vaccine, which has to be grown in chicken eggs. And every year the whole process has to start over, as the virus keeps mutating and evolving. 

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McGuire Apartments
5:35 pm
Fri May 6, 2011

Demolition of a nearly-new Seattle tower

Demolition begins on the garage of the McGuire Apartments tower, in Seattle.
Keith Seinfeld KPLU

One of the most prominent demolition jobs since the Kingdome imploded is underway in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. This time, there will be no explosion, and the building is private instead of public. 

The 25-story McGuire Apartments saga is a sad one, says Doug Lo, a Belltown resident who was snapping photos with his phone, from across the street, at 2nd Ave. and Vine St.

"It's a nice building, and in this modern age, you'd think they would have built it correctly, from the get-go," he said.

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Global Health
9:33 am
Mon May 2, 2011

Seattle still wants to save the world

"Can Seattle Save the World?" panel at Town Hall Seattle, featuring Tom Paulson, of KPLU's Humanosphere, and panelists Bill Foege, Chris Elias, Wendy Johnson, and Joe Whinney
Justin Steyer KPLU

We hope you figured out long ago that the title of KPLU's "Can Seattle Save the World? (Poverty, Health and Chocolate)" event was tongue-firmly-in-cheek, but also meant to raise some important questions. There's a serious debate about the meaning and priority of "health" in "global health."

The event itself, last Tuesday, proved so popular that we moved it to a room three times larger than originally planned -- and nearly packed the room. Not to toot our horn too much, but immediate feedback was enthusiastic. "Do it again," was the most common response.

We'd love to. In the meantime, we are belatedly offering a replay -- video from the event.

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alcohol
5:59 am
Mon May 2, 2011

Parents drinking with teens could make matters worse

Should parents share a drink with their teenagers?
angelocesare Flickr

Maybe you had your first sip of wine or beer at home, with your parents. Or maybe it was with friends, in shadowy circumstances. Either way, did it matter in the long run?   

The latest research suggests parents drinking with their teens leads to problems. Teenagers are more likely to abuse alcohol and hurt themselves if their parents introduce them to alcohol than if parents have a zero-tolerance policy at home. 

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obesity
5:51 am
Thu April 28, 2011

Setting aside sugary drinks, at least on Sundays

Chris Shook, a driver with Harbor Pacific Bottling Inc., stocks a cooler with soda, in Elma, Washington last fall.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

The effort to reduce obesity is taking aim once again at sugary drinks.  A coalition of health groups is asking the public to try-out “Soda-Free Sundays.”

There’s pretty solid evidence Americans, on average, are drinking a lot more soft drinks and other sweetened beverages than they did a generation ago.  Back in the 1990’s, for example, soft drink sales surpassed milk.

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budget whiplash
10:26 pm
Sun April 17, 2011

Health clinics expanding, but also cutting services

Clinics that serve low-income patients (like this HealthPoint facility in Auburn) have been sprouting up across the country at a time when the federal funds that subsidize them are drying up.
Photo courtesy of HealthPoint

Health clinics that cater to low-income people have been expanding.

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japanese nuclear disaster
8:42 am
Thu April 14, 2011

Health officials proud of radiation monitors, say radiation is dropping

In this March 11 photo released April 11, 2011 by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the access road at the compound of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is flooded as tsunami hit the facility following a massive earthquake.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. AP

Even though the damaged nuclear reactors continue to cause problems in Japan, the amount of radiation reaching the Pacific coast is dropping.

Public health officials say the radiation threat has been more psychological than physical. They're proud of how they've responded to the nuclear power plant crisis in Japan. 

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