Award-winning journalist Richard Harris has reported on a wide range of topics in science, medicine and the environment since he joined NPR in 1986. In early 2014, his focus shifted from an emphasis on climate change and the environment to biomedical research.
Harris has traveled to all seven continents for NPR. His reports have originated from Timbuktu, the South Pole, the Galapagos Islands, Beijing during the SARS epidemic, the center of Greenland, the Amazon rain forest, the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro (for a story about tuberculosis), and Japan to cover the nuclear aftermath of the 2011 tsunami.
In 2010, Harris' reporting revealed that the blown-out BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was spewing out far more oil than asserted in the official estimates. That revelation led the federal government to make a more realistic assessment of the extent of the spill.
Harris covered climate change for decades. He reported from the United Nations climate negotiations, starting with the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and including Kyoto in 1997 and Copenhagen in 2009. Harris was a major contributor to NPR's award-winning 2007-2008 "Climate Connections" series.
Over the course of his career, Harris has been the recipient of many prestigious awards. Those include the American Geophysical Union's 2013 Presidential Citation for Science and Society. He shared the 2009 National Academy of Sciences Communication Award and was a finalist again in 2011. In 2002, Harris was elected an honorary member of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society. Harris shared a 1995 Peabody Award for investigative reporting on NPR about the tobacco industry. Since 1988, the American Association for the Advancement of Science has honored Harris three times with its science journalism award.
Before joining NPR, Harris was a science writer for the San Francisco Examiner. From 1981 to 1983, Harris was a staff writer at The Tri-Valley Herald in Livermore, California, covering science, technology, and health issues related to the nuclear weapons lab in Livermore. He started his career as an AAAS Mass Media Science Fellow at the now-defunct Washington Star in DC.
Harris is co-founder of the Washington, DC, Area Science Writers Association, and is past president of the National Association of Science Writers. He serves on the board of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.
Harris' book Rigor Mortis was published in 2017. The book covers the biomedicine "reproducibility crisis" — many studies can't be reproduced in other labs, often due to lack of rigor, hence the book's title. Rigor Mortis was a finalist for the 2018 National Academy of Sciences/Keck Communication Award.
A California native, Harris returned to the University of California-Santa Cruz in 2012, to give a commencement address at Crown College, where he had given a valedictory address at his own graduation. He earned a bachelor's degree at the school in biology, with highest honors.
Hospitals are figuring out how to administer drugs that are designed to treat people with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms. The drugs are in short supply, and there is no guarantee they will work.
The race to develop COVID-19 vaccines is moving swiftly, both nationally and internationally. But challenges remain when it comes to distributing vaccines around the world.
As coronavirus cases surge across the United States, a second vaccine candidate is said to show great promise. Experts say the first vaccines could become available as early as late December.
The federal government plans to distribute 300,000 doses of the drug at no cost, but that doesn't mean treatment will be free. Intravenous infusion charges can run more than $1,000.
COVID-19 antibody drugs appear to be helping people avoid hospitalization. Tens of thousands of people a day could be candidates to take the drugs, but the scarce supply has to be rationed.
Pfizer announced Friday there would be no coronavirus vaccine before the election. And a new study questioned the effectiveness of remdesivir, a drug used to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
President Trump continues to tout an experimental treatment he received for COVID-19. NPR discusses if the drug is safe and whether there is enough of it to distribute across the U.S.
NPR discusses the latest on President Trump's health, his treatment for COVID-19 and his misleading statements on social media downplaying the lethality of the illness.
Lots of questions remain about President Trump's condition. NPR discusses his health and medical treatment and what would be the best safety protocols for the White House to follow.
Most drugs don't actually cure diseases. They can help ease symptoms and up the odds of survival. This will likely be true for COVID-19 drugs. A true cure would likely take years to develop.