Jon Hamilton

Jon Hamilton is a correspondent for NPR's Science Desk. Currently he focuses on neuroscience, health risks, and extreme weather.

Following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Hamilton was part of NPR's team of science reporters and editors who went to Japan to cover the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

Hamilton contributed several pieces to the Science Desk series "The Human Edge," which looked at what makes people the most versatile and powerful species on Earth. His reporting explained how humans use stories, how the highly evolved human brain is made from primitive parts, and what autism reveals about humans social brains.

In 2009, Hamilton received the Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Award for his piece on the neuroscience behind treating autism.

Before joining NPR in 1998, Hamilton was a media fellow with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation studying health policy issues. He reported on states that have improved their Medicaid programs for the poor by enrolling beneficiaries in private HMOs.

From 1995-1997, Hamilton wrote on health and medical topics as a freelance writer, after having been a medical reporter for both The Commercial Appeal and Physician's Weekly.

Hamilton graduated with honors from Oberlin College in Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. As a student, he was the editor of the Oberlin Review student newspaper. He earned his master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, where he graduated with honors During his time at Columbia, Hamilton was awarded the Baker Prize for magazine writing and earned a Sherwood traveling fellowship.

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4:34pm

Wed March 19, 2014
Shots - Health News

Alzheimer's Diagnosis Expanding To Catch Early Warning Signs

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 6:17 am

Doctors may eventually be able to diagnose "preclinical" Alzheimer's in patients who have abnormal brain scans but who aren't yet showing behavioral symptoms of the disease.
iStockphoto

Alzheimer's disease isn't what it used to be. After 30 years of having doctors diagnose the disease by symptoms alone, researchers and advocacy groups are calling for new diagnostic criteria that recognize changes in the brain as well as changes in behavior.

The goal is to eventually allow doctors to diagnose "preclinical" Alzheimer's in patients who do not have problems with memory or thinking, but who do have an abnormal brain scan or some other sign that the disease may be developing.

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12:04pm

Sun March 9, 2014
Shots - Health News

Alzheimer's Blood Test Raises Ethical Questions

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 7:59 am

Scientists have long sought a way to detect Alzheimer's before symptoms appear.
iStockphoto

An experimental blood test can identify people in their 70s who are likely to develop Alzheimer's disease within two or three years. The test is accurate more than 90 percent of the time, scientists reported Sunday in Nature Medicine.

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3:49pm

Wed February 26, 2014
The Salt

Maybe That BPA In Your Canned Food Isn't So Bad After All

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 10:08 am

Should you fear a chemical inside metal food containers like the ones that hold beans? Government scientists say no.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Maybe BPA isn't so bad after all.

The plastic additive has been vilified by environmental advocacy groups. But the chemical had no effect on rats fed thousands of times the amount a typical person ingests, government scientists are reporting in the journal Toxicological Sciences.

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1:35am

Mon February 24, 2014
Shots - Health News

Orphans' Lonely Beginnings Reveal How Parents Shape A Child's Brain

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 10:07 am

In the Institute for the Unsalvageable in Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania, shown here in 1992, children were left in cribs for days on end.
Tom Szalay

Parents do a lot more than make sure a child has food and shelter, researchers say. They play a critical role in brain development.

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1:00pm

Mon January 27, 2014
Shots - Health News

Stricter Autism Criteria Unlikely To Reduce Services For Kids

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 11:55 am

Clinical specialist Catey Funaiock took notes while observing a 5-year-old boy at the Marcus Autism Center, part of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, in September.
David Goldman AP

The clinical definition for when a child has some form of autism has been tightened. And these narrower criteria for autism spectrum disorder probably will reduce the number of kids who meet the new standard.

But researchers say the changes, which were rolled out last May, are likely to have a bigger effect on government statistics than on the care of the nation's children.

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