Stories by Kristen Thometz

Rev. Jesse Jackson Diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease

The civil rights advocate announced Friday that he was diagnosed with the progressive degenerative disorder in 2015. 

Letter: Extend Federal Funds for Children’s Health Insurance Program

More than 50 organizations are urging the Illinois congressional delegation to reauthorize funding for programs that provide health insurance to children and support for low-income and at-risk families, before it becomes a crisis in the state.

Imperfect to Deliver ‘Ugly’ Fruits, Vegetables to Chicagoans

(Courtesy of Imperfect)

Fruits and vegetables come in all shapes and sizes, but only those that meet strict cosmetic requirements end up in grocery stores, while “ugly” produce goes to waste. Imperfect, a new produce delivery service, hopes to change that.

Chicago Teen Birth Rate Drops to New Low

Teen birth rates in Chicago have reached a new low, according to city officials. In 2015, there were 27.5 births per 1,000 girls ages 15-19, a 67-percent drop from 1999.

UChicago’s Chuan He Awarded 2017 Paul Marks Prize in Cancer Research

University of Chicago professor Chuan He (Lloyd DeGrane for the University of Chicago)

The biennial award is bestowed upon three promising researchers under the age of 45 making significant contributions to understanding the disease or improving treatments. 

Scientists Target Cancer’s ‘Achilles’ Heel’ to Stop Therapy Resistance

(Mike Mitchell / National Cancer Institute)

Northwestern University scientists believe they may have found the “Achilles’ heel” of cancer. In a recent study, researchers were able to almost completely eradicate the disease in laboratory cell cultures.

ADA Responds to Chicago, County Officials’ Letter on Opioids

(David Kessler / Flickr)

Responding to local officials’ call for restrictions on opioid prescriptions, the American Dental Association outlines the steps it’s taking to address the opioid epidemic. 

‘Hamilton’ Star Begins ‘My Shot at Epilepsy’ to Raise Awareness, Funds

“Hamilton” star Miguel Cervantes and a group of children demonstrate the “My Shot” pose used in the viral campaign started by Cervantes and his wife, Kelly, to raise awareness and funds for epilepsy research. (CURE: Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy / Facebook)

Inspired by the song “My Shot,” from the blockbuster musical, actor Miguel Cervantes is challenging the public to take their “shot” and help raise awareness and funds to find a cure for epilepsy. 

Local Salon Owner Seeks Blow-Dry Only State License

A North Shore salon owner says cosmetology licenses should not be required for employees of salons specializing in styling hair, rather than cutting it. But not everyone in the industry agrees that a blow-dry license is a good idea.

Chicago, County Officials Take Action Against Opioid Epidemic

(The Javorac / Flickr)

Local officials call for restrictions on opioid prescriptions as Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposes a $500,000 investment to fight the opioid epidemic.

Basketball Memories Help South Side Artist Paint ‘Honest’ Chicago Story

“Black Enough” by Max Sansing (Courtesy of Gallery 19 / SOFA Chicago)

Basketball kept Max Sansing and his friends out of trouble, but when the rims were removed from neighborhood parks and schools, their lives were changed. Now Sansing is using old backboards to tell that story.

Earth Microbiome Project Seeks to Map Planet’s Microbial Diversity

The Earth Microbiome Project aims to catalog all of the world’s microbial communities. (G.M. King)

Scientists say there are more bacteria in the ocean than stars in the universe, yet little is known about them. A new study outlines the “crazy idea” that led to a project described by one scientist as the “Google database for microbes.”

UIC Researchers to Address Pharmacy Deserts, Closures in Chicago

(Linda Bartlett / Wikimedia Commons)

In some Chicago neighborhoods, pharmacies appear to be in abundant supply. In others, they’re scarce. Researchers will spend the next three years addressing their dwindling numbers on the city’s South and West Sides.

UChicago Scientists Develop Tool to Predict Severity of Flu Season

A new tool developed by University of Chicago scientists could boost public health officials’ ability to predict how severe an upcoming flu season will be. 

Northwestern Scientists Discover Molecules Capable of Killing Cancer

“Our research may be tapping into one of nature’s original kill switches, and we hope the impact will affect many cancers,” said Northwestern scientist Marcus Peter. “Our findings could be disruptive.”

‘Past the Naked Eye’ Captures Science, Fine Art

(Kalyee Costello)

“I’d like more people to be interested in science,” said Chicago student photographer Kaylee Costello. “These images will hopefully grab their attention, so they also know there is art within science.”

Northwestern Opens Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause

(Credit: Northwestern Medicine)

A first-of-its-kind center brings together physicians, advanced practice nurses, certified sex therapists and pelvic floor therapists to address two often unmet areas of women’s health care.

‘Me Too’ Campaign Empowers Sexual Assault Survivors to Raise Voices

“There’s a whole lot of women out there, likely millions of women, who were affected and now they have the opportunity to raise their voice and talk about it,” said Kristie Paskvan, founder of Chicago Says No More.

UIC Creates Health Equity Research Center

The University of Illinois at Chicago campus in 2012 (University of Illinois at Chicago / Facebook)

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago will investigate how social determinants like poverty and living in a food desert contribute to the health of marginalized groups. 

Healing Heels Strives to Empower, Support Women Battling Cancer

(Amanda Miller)

One woman’s “chemo shoes” inspired two friends to create a Chicago-based shoe and apparel company designed to empower women battling cancer.

Exhibit Reveals ‘Undefinable’ Nature of Women’s Health in America

“Is It Mine” by Caren Helene Rudman (Courtesy of Caren Helene Rudman)

With the national spotlight on issues surrounding women’s health, a newly opened exhibit explores how a woman’s body is connected with health and wellness.  

Women’s March on Chicago Organizers Planning January 2018 Rally

(Maya Miller / Chicago Tonight)

Organizers of the Women’s March on Chicago, which drew 250,000 people downtown in January, will mark the one-year anniversary of the event with another march and rally designed to engage and empower voters.

Study: Soot on Birds Tracks Decades of Urban Air Pollution

Red-headed woodpeckers collected near the Des Plaines River in Cook County, Ill., in 1901 (top) and in Braidwood, Ill., in 1982 (bottom). (Courtesy of Carl Fuldner and Shane DuBay)

Researchers analyzed 1,000 birds collected over the last 135 years by the Field Museum and other institutions to track the amount of soot in the air of Rust Belt cities. 

University of Chicago’s Richard Thaler Wins Nobel Prize in Economics

Richard Thaler (Courtesy of University of Chicago)

Considered one of the founding fathers of behavioral economics, a field that bridges the gap between economics and psychology, Richard Thaler is known for illustrating how human behavior often contradicts traditional economic logic.

‘Gentle Mentals’ Takes Playful, Humorous Approach to Mental Illness

(Courtesy of Veronica Padilla)

With mental illness affecting 1 in 5 people, Chicagoan Veronica Padilla hopes addressing the topic in a playful manner will make it more accessible. “Humor can be very therapeutic. Humor has gotten me out of so many binds in my life when things got heavy,” she said.