KERA Breakthroughs

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Second grader Diego Montealvo visits the school nurse's office for a virtual checkup with Dr. Stormee Williams, a pediatrician with Children's Medical Center of Dallas.

Thousands Of Texas Kids Can Now Visit The Doctor, From School, With Telemedicine

When children get sick at school, it can be a big disruption. For the kids – they have to miss class –and for mom or dad, who have to leave work, try and schedule a last minute doctor’s appointment, maybe even go to the emergency room. So, what if kids could see a pediatrician without having to leave school? That’s the idea behind a telemedicine initiative run by Children’s Health The program has gone from reaching several hundred kids to in Texas to thousands.

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What We Know So Far About Sexual Transmission Of Zika Virus

A patient acquired Zika virus in the U.S. through sex with a person who had traveled to a place where the virus is circulating, Dallas County, Texas, health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday. This is not the first time that the virus has been sexually transmitted, and it most likely isn't the first time it's been sexually transmitted in the U.S. Read More


Zika Is No Ebola, But Both Viruses Reveal Need For More Disease Research

By now many people in North Texas have heard of the Zika virus, but few have firsthand experience. Dr. David Vanderpool does. Vanderpool was raised and educated in Dallas and has seen the toll the disease is taking south of the border, in the poorest country of the Americas – Haiti. He says whether or not the Zika virus spreads to the U.S., we need to be paying close attention.

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Still Uninsured? Buy A Health Plan This Week To Avoid A Tax Penalty

Federal health officials have this message for people who want health insurance: Don't wait. There are just four days left to sign up for an insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act, and officials from the Department of Health and Human Services are stressing that they won't extend the enrollment period this year beyond Jan. 31. Read More

How Meditation, Placebos And Virtual Reality Help Power ‘Mind Over Body’

While researching the book Cure, science writer Jo Marchant wanted to understand how distraction could be used to nullify pain, so she participated in a virtual reality experiment. During the first part of the experiment, Marchant sat, without distraction, with her foot in a box of unbearably hot water. "It felt like a very intense burning pain on my foot when I just experienced it on its own," Marchant tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. Read More

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Meet the Team


Lauren Silverman

Lauren Silverman


Lauren Silverman is the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She is also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide news show Texas Standard. While at KERA Lauren has received a variety of awards; an honorable mention for Texas Health Journalist of the Year from the Texas Medical Association, several regional Edward R. Murrow awards, as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.

Before joining KERA Lauren worked at NPR’s weekend All Things Considered in Washington D.C. There, she produced national stories on everything from the politics of climate change to the future of online education. While at All Things Considered, Lauren also produced a piece on neighborhood farms in Compton, California that won a National Association of Black Journalism’s “Salute to Excellence Award.”

Sam Baker

Sam Baker

Senior Editor/Morning Edition Host

Sam Baker, KERA’s host of Morning Edition since 1991, also produces and hosts Vital Signs, a weekly series focusing on practical issues about health. He also edits radio commentaries, has produced station versions of the NPR series This I Believe and StoryCorps, and hosted KERA-TV’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record.

A native of Beaumont, Texas, Sam spent six years in commercial television news and three years as Morning Edition host and News Director at KWGS-FM in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He won a 2008 regional Emmy for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Texas Associated Press, Oklahoma Associated Press, Dallas Press Club and Public Radio News Directors, Inc (PRNDI). Sam has served on the boards of PRNDI and Southwest Transplant Alliance, and was host/producer of Jazz in Words and Music for Reading and Radio Resources, an audio service for the visually-impaired.

Dallas stock photography provided by Justin Terveen

General stock photography provided by Shutterstock


“Breakthroughs” is a KERA News project devoted to the latest innovations in health, science and technology — with a North Texas accent. We’ll focus on medical breakthroughs rooted in hospitals, clinics and labs throughout North Texas. We’ll explore the science labs and tech centers that anchor the region. And we’ll have some fun. You’ll find stories on everything from doctors using proton beams to treat cancer to patients using iPhone apps to monitor eye disease to a boat made of recycled water bottles that crossed the Pacific and landed for good in downtown Dallas. You have a key role in this blog: Share your stories, suggestions and questions – tweet #KERAbreakthroughs.


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