I love working at the intersection of science, medicine and journalism. I have more than 20 years of experience in health and science writing. I was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in 2015, and have received top awards from the Association of Health Care Journalists and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. While I specialize in matters of health and science, I have also written about gun-toting liberals for D Magazine, and was the writer-reporter of the “Thugs” episode for the NPR series This American Life.
You can read some of my articles below. I welcome new story ideas.
iHeartRadio, April, 2022
How do you find justice when no law has been broken, but you are?
For 20 years, Sarah Delashmit told people around her that she had cancer, muscular dystrophy, and other illnesses. She used a wheelchair and posted selfies from a hospital bed. She told friends and coworkers she was trapped in abusive relationships, or that she was the mother of children who had died. It was all a con. Sympathy was both her great need and her powerful weapon. But unlike most scams, she didn’t want people’s money. She was after something far more valuable.
Wondery, May 2021
If you’ve already followed the story of JUUL, it’s probably not what you think.
It’s a story about the Silicon Valley ethos, greed, politics, and the complex reality of harm reduction. It’s a reminder that addiction consumes everything in its path.
Two young Silicon Valley entrepreneurs set out to rid the world of smoking with an incredible new product. The device stands to disrupt the tobacco industry and make them rich, until it falls into the wrong hands and lives are ruined. From classrooms to hospitals, boardrooms to the Oval Office, what can be done to protect teenagers and is it too late? From Laura Beil, the reporter behind Dr Death and Bad Batch, comes The Vaping Fix, the inside story of the rise of Juul and the making of a crisis.
Wondery, October 2019
Laura Beil, the award-winning host and reporter of “Dr Death,” returns for this six-part investigative series from Wondery.
Patients are offered a miracle cure, but instead they end up rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The race is on to track down what went wrong with several patients in Texas before more people get hurt. The trail leads to a stem cell company with a charismatic CEO, and to an entire multibillion dollar industry where greed and desperation collide. Laura Beil, the award-winning host and reporter of “Dr Death,” returns for this six-part investigative series from Wondery.
Wondery, August 2018
A charming surgeon. 33 patients. A spineless system.
We’re at our most vulnerable when we go to our doctors. We trust the person at the other end of that scalpel. We trust the hospital. We trust the system. Dr. Christopher Duntsch was a neurosurgeon who radiated confidence. He claimed he was the best in Dallas. If you had back pain, and had tried everything else, Dr. Duntsch could give you the spine surgery that would take your pain away. But soon his patients started to experience complications. And all they had to protect them was a system ill equipped to stop the madness. From Wondery, the network behind the hit podcast Dirty John, DR. DEATH is about a medical system that failed to protect these patients at every possible turn. Reported and hosted by Laura Beil.
Parasite on the Playground
The New York Times, Jan 2018
Millions of American children have been exposed to a parasite that could interfere with their breathing, liver function, eyesight and even intelligence. Yet few scientists have studied the infection in the United States, and most doctors are unaware of it.
Peter Hotez vs. Measles and the Anti-Vaccination Movement
AWARD WINNER Anson Jones Award from the Texas Medical Association
Texas is at risk of a deadly measles outbreak, and yet few have been willing to cast blame on the state’s combative anti-vaccine movement. Enter Peter Hotez, an affable, bow-tie-wearing scientist who decided he’d had enough.
This story originally appeared in the December 2017 issue with the headline “Going Viral.”READ ARTICLE
Military Veterans and ALS
The risk is elevated for all veterans no matter when or where they served, whether they went to combat or not,” says Hebert’s physician Richard Bedlack, M.D., who is head of the ALS clinic at Duke University Health Center. No one really knows why anyone contracts ALS, says Bedlack, who theorizes that some veterans might be genetically predisposed to develop the disease and that the stress and rigors of military service might amplify injury to the body’s nervous system.READ ARTICLE
From the moment the idea struck him, Sorrell realized that a farm could change Paul Quinn’s entire narrative. Problem was, the school didn’t have an agriculture program. Staff members had never raised more than houseplants… “All we had was a willingness to fail,” he says. “And if we were going to fail, we were going to fail doing things that mattered to the people we cared about.READ ARTICLE
Creature from the Green Lagoon
The National Australian researchers have calculated that, given the right conditions, an M&M-size salvinia plant could blanket 39 square miles of water in just over three months. As the advancing front reaches maturity, it swells into a carpet of vegetation up to three feet thick, smothering other life in its path by consuming nutrients and blocking sunlight from penetrating the water below. Fish can’t survive. Native plants and amphibians struggle. Lake recreation halts as viny roots clog boat engines and become ensnared in propeller blades. In some areas, the dense layer of salvinia can even become a substrate for other opportunistic weeds, making it difficult to tell where the lake ends and the shore begins.READ ARTICLE
Yes, statins protect hearts. But critics question their expanding use
At its core, the debate is about how studies are designed, carried out, evaluated and sliced and diced after the fact. No one argues that the vast majority of people prescribed a statin will be taking a drug — probably for the rest of their lives — that they never needed. At issue is whether they stand a good chance of gain, and whether they are putting themselves in unacceptable danger.READ ARTICLE
More men are developing eating disorders. Why are we treating it as only a women’s disease?
Long considered an affliction of women, eating disorders — the most deadly of all mental illnesses — are increasingly affecting men. The National Eating Disorders Association predicts that 10 million American men alive today will be affected, but that number is only an estimate based on the limited research available. The official criteria for diagnosing eating disorders were updated to be more inclusive of men only in 2013. And last year, Australian researchers writing in the Journal of Eating Disorders noted that “the prevalence of extreme weight control behaviors, such as extreme dietary restriction and purging” may be increasing at a faster rate in men than women.READ ARTICLE
Big Men on Campus
Are all those three-hundred-pound high school football players a health crisis waiting to happen?
The first time John Jones played football for Cedar Hill High School, he was a 240-pound freshman who knew so little about the game he trotted into Longhorn Stadium with his shoulder pads on backward. He bumbled along for weeks, unimpressive in every position he tried. During a warm-up midway through the season, he finally found his footing on the offensive line and knocked the helmet off a guy from the opposing side. After that, he was a starter.READ ARTICLE