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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biotech and life sciences
12:41 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Health technology has jobs, but walks on shifting sands

The Seattle area biotech and medical device industry is not likely to produce any companies as big as Microsoft or Amazon. But smaller companies, with strange names, keep popping up—like Etubics, Numera, Obenomics, and NanoString.

And, apparently, this sector is adding jobs.

That’s the word at the annual Life Science Innovation Northwest conference, in Seattle this week.

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addiction
1:11 am
Wed July 11, 2012

Prescription drug abuse continues decline, but heroin is rising

Not as many people are dying from prescription drug overdoses in Washington – but heroin abuse appears to be spiking higher. Those figures come from an annual report on drug abuse in the state.

Heroin abuse peaked in the 1990s. Since then, it's been a problem primarily for aging drug-addicts. But Caleb Banta-Green of the UW’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute says it's making a comeback among younger people:

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global health
6:25 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

Melinda Gates claims pushing birth control isn't controversial

“We've made it controversial in the United States, and it doesn't need to be," Melinda Gates said on the Colbert Report.

Melinda Gates is promoting access to contraceptives around the world, and urging everyone to believe it's not a controversial step.

She's co-hosting a global summit on Wednesday in London, along with the British government.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation hopes to overcome religious and cultural resistance by saying birth control is simply one option that women want.

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Weather with Cliff Mass
9:05 am
Fri July 6, 2012

The sun is here, introduce yourself (it's been awhile)

Time to get reacquainted with the sun. We'll have at least the next few days to do so ... so take your time.
sea turtle Flickr

The forecast is for plenty of sun for today and days to come.

As KPLU forecaster and University of Washington professor Cliff Mass put it in his blog: It happens almost every year, and we sometimes lose faith that it will occur.

"Often, as in this year, it happens right after July 4th, and almost certainly by mid-July, resulting in the oft-noted statement by the meteorological cognoscenti that summer starts on July 12th in western Washington."

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disease, diet and ethnicity
1:35 am
Thu July 5, 2012

Despite healthy image, Japanese-Americans' diabetes risk higher

Diabetes is on the rise, especially among ethnic minorities. Hispanics and blacks are nearly twice as likely as whites to die of diabetes, and the rate is even higher for and Native Americans. Even Japanese Americans, despite their healthier image, have a higher than average risk of diabetes.

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Weather with Cliff Mass
8:33 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

It's gonna rain. Sorry, it's true.

And there's not much we can do about it, says Cliff Mass, KPLU weather expert and professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the UW.

Mass says look at the radar and make some plans.

There's a reason ... It's been a cold June.

Reacting to supreme court
7:14 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Hospitals, other providers welcome ruling, look forward to more paying customers

Health-care providers in Washington are in the midst of changes that will speed up now that the federal health law has been sustained. The ruling was welcome news to hospitals, doctors and many others in the medical field.

They're especially glad nearly everyone will have health insurance. That’s been one of the big challenges in the current health system. People get sick and go to the hospital, even if they can’t afford it.

By 2014, when subsidies for insurance kick-in, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler predicts about 80% of the uninsured will get coverage.  

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health care reform
8:21 am
Thu June 28, 2012

Supreme Court upholds health care law; Washington leaders look smart; state programs under way

It's full steam ahead for health care programs in Washington state.
The Associated Press

Washington state is on a fast-track to providing discounted insurance for thousands of uninsured people by January 2014.

The Supreme Court has upheld the individual insurance requirement at the heart of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

The court on Thursday handed Obama a campaign-season victory in rejecting arguments that Congress went too far in requiring most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty.

The court found problems with the law's expansion of Medicaid. But even there, it said the expansion could proceed as long as the federal government does not threaten to withhold the entire Medicaid allotment to states if they don't take part in the extension.

The court's four liberal justices, Stephen Bryer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, joined Roberts in the outcome.

“We are in a very good position, because we have already received the federal funds to not only build our health-care exchange, or marketplace, but to operate it for the first year,” says State Sen. Karen Keiser (D), Kent, who chairs a key senate health committee.

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poverty
5:57 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Food stamps reduced for up to 30,000 legal immigrants

Food stamps are getting cut in half next week for many of Washington’s legal immigrants. They were cut to help balance the state’s budget.

The food assistance goes to about 11,000 families. Counting their children, that could be nearly 30,000 people impacted statewide, according to estimates by the Children's Alliance, and advocacy group.

They’re immigrants who came here legally, from countries all over the world. Many have their "Green Cards," which means they have permanent resident status. Others are here under other programs.

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Weather with Cliff Mass
9:17 am
Fri June 22, 2012

Rain for sure, says Cliff Mass, but summer rain is different

Ah, summer rain can be delightful ... but, like it or not, we're in for it.
Minnae Flickr

You can watch out not only for rain showers, but perhaps even some thunder showers on Friday, says Cliff Mass, the KPLU weather expert and professor of Atmospheric Sciences at UW.

If you're planning ahead, he says in this week's podcast, Friday afternoon will get the worst of it, with Saturday slightly less, and Sunday tapering off more and warming up a few degrees.

And, if you're wondering, When will the water at our beaches be warm enough to get in?... Mass has some bad news. The early part of summer is when winds conspire to create "upwelling" along much of the Pacific coast, and that makes the water get colder.

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health insurance
3:36 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Health insurers must give rebates to 5,000 Washington residents

Nearly 5,000 Washington residents are getting rebates on their health insurance, courtesy of the new federal health law.

If you bought an individual health plan from an out-of-state company called Time Insurance, then you should be getting money back. The plans are sold under the brand, Assurant Health. The company sells primarily high-deductible health coverage.

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Health care reform
1:43 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Washington may attempt an individual mandate, if Supreme Court cuts it

A Supreme Court ruling on President Obama’s health care law could force Washington state lawmakers to shift gears. They want to prevent a repeat of the 1990's, when the insurance market "went over a cliff," says the state Insurance Commissioner.

That could force them to require state residents to have health insurance. But, their first choice to prevent a health-care "disaster," say Democrats, is to rely on federal subsidies to keep insurance affordable.

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seismic surveys
2:40 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

Endangered orcas cause delays for major earthquake research

The R/V Langseth uses sonar to study earthquake faults
Columbia University/Earth Institute

Updated 6/18/12, with comments and links from whale advocates.

An expensive science mission off the Washington and Oregon coasts has been scaled back, at least for now, out of concern for orca whales. A research ship is using blasts of sound to create maps of a major earthquake fault, which is considered the greatest tsunami risk along the U.S. Pacific coast.

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Weather with Cliff Mass
8:57 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Sunshine! Then some rain, and then ... more changes

rishibando Flickr

Just one day of glory is all we get, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. The clouds roll in tonight, at least around most of western Washington, followed by periods of rain tomorrow.

The sun will still be shining over Portland on Saturday, and east of the Cascades, says Mass, a UW professor of Atmospheric Sciences.

The changes are all typical of June, he says, and by the middle of next week, we'll likely flip back to a few days of sunshine.

This week's interview also covers how to "read" the clouds and tell if rain is on the way.

 

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youth and tobacco
5:55 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

The kids are still smoking, and we're not doing much about it

“It’s worth recognizing that just about nobody takes up smoking after age 25. And something like 9 of 10 adults who smoke say they started before 18."
Anthony Posey Flickr

Youth smoking is re-emerging as a concern in Washington. The US Surgeon General came to Seattle this week to give a pep talk to anti-smoking campaigners, who are coping with three years of drastic budget cuts.

If it seems like smoking is already on a perpetual decline, that's a mis-perception, said assistant Surgeon General Patrick O’Carroll, in an interview:

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