Stories by Kristen Thometz

Chicago Leads Nation in Reducing Racial Disparity in Breast Cancer Deaths

(Giuseppe Milo / Flickr)

For black women in Chicago, a breast cancer diagnosis in 2003 meant you were 68 percent more likely to die from the disease than a white woman. A new study shows that gap is closing.

Judge to Rule July 28 on Cook County Soda Tax

A Cook County judge will rule on the controversial penny-per-ounce sugar-sweetened beverage tax next week.

Study Details Possible Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Treatment

With one in 10 women reporting drinking during pregnancy and no cure for the disorder, researchers are hopeful two treatments that reversed memory and learning deficits in rats can do the same in humans.

AG Madigan Issues Guidelines for Responding to Sexual Assault Crimes

Medical professionals learn how to use the Sexual Assault Evidence Collection kit, which has several packets to collect evidence from a suspect and a patient of a sexual assault case. (Sgt. Rebecca Linder / Wikimedia Commons)

Law enforcement agencies have a new set of guidelines for responding to reports of sexual assault and sexual abuse.

City Seeking Input on Ways to Improve Youth Health, Well-Being

The public is invited to weigh in on public health policy ideas at a series of upcoming town hall meetings. Get dates, locations and more details.

Study: Antibiotic Use by Mothers Tied to Higher Risk of Disease in Newborns

Up to 40 percent of women take antibiotics late in their pregnancies or while nursing. A new study rethinks the common practice of prescribing such drugs when they aren’t warranted.

Study Links Purpose in Life with Better Sleep in Older Adults

Older adults who say their lives have meaning are more likely to get a good night’s sleep and less likely to suffer from sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, according to a new study.

Rapid Sepsis Test in Development

University of Illinois researchers and physicians at Carle Foundation Hospital developed a rapid test for sepsis that counts white blood cells and certain protein markers that surge when a person’s immune response increases. (Credit: Janet Sinn-Hanlon)

Sepsis affects more than 1 million hospital patients each year in the U.S., but detecting it can take days. Now, scientists at the University of Illinois are developing a rapid test to detect the potentially deadly condition.

In 1958, Pabst and Chicago Defender Held ‘Cadillac of Beauty Contests’

Miss Wonderful 1958 contestants (Courtesy of Ernestine Terry)

In the late 1950s, the Chicago Defender and Pabst Brewing Company sponsored the Miss Wonderful 1958, an all African-American beauty contest. Meet Ernestine Terry, who was one of the contestants.

Pediatric Trauma Physician Resigns to ‘Refill Tank’

Dr. Catherine Humikowski

Dr. Catherine Humikowski described her job at Comer Children’s Hospital as “perfect.” But dealing with trauma—and her own near-death experience in 2013—prompted her to take a break.

Soda Tax, Changes to Child Support Start July 1

While it remains to be seen whether legislators will pass a budget by July 1, here are five local and state laws that go into effect on that date.

CDC: Nearly 1,300 Kids Die from Gunshot Wounds Annually

“Too many children have died or are traumatized by gun violence,” said Dr. Mark Slidell of Comer Children’s Hospital. “The impact of gun violence on children is a serious public health problem.”

Nurse’s Passion Leads Her to Patient Advocacy

(Courtesy of Teri Dreher)

Navigating the ever-changing landscape of health care can be difficult. Meet a local patient advocate who’s made it her life’s work to help others.

Heroin Use Costs Society $51.2 Billion, Says UIC Study

Heroin use has more than doubled in young adults over the past decade. A new study evaluates the cost of that addiction on society at large.

As Lyme Disease Cases Rise, Tips for Protecting Against Tick Bites

The blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick, is one of three types of ticks found in Illinois that transmit illnesses via their bite to humans. (James Gathany / CDC)

Experts are predicting an increase in tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease this season. Find out how to protect yourself—and what to do if you get bitten by a tick.

3.3 Million-Year-Old Fossil Reveals Evolution of Human Spine

University of Chicago professor Zeray Alemseged discovered the most complete spinal column of any early human relative. (Zeray Alemseged / DRP)

What the nearly complete skeleton of a 2 1/2-year-old child tells researchers about the history the human spine – and human evolution.

UIC Launches Stem Cell, Regenerative Medicine Center

Researchers at UIC will focus on understanding tissue regeneration and spearheading future developments in stem cell biology as a means to repair diseased organs and tissues.

Study: Thrill, Lack of Recreational Activities Attract Youth to Gangs

Former gang members cited a lack of recreational activities and the rush of adrenaline they got from participating in gang violence as reasons for joining gangs, according to a new study.

Louise Bernard Named Museum Director of Obama Library

Louise Bernard (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

As museum director, the Yale graduate will lead the design, development and operation of the Obama Presidential Center’s museum, according to the Obama Foundation. 

‘Comic Nurse’ Addresses Illness, Caregiving in Graphic Novel

(Courtesy MK Czerwiec)

MK Czerwiec began writing comics as a way to cope with the challenges of being an AIDS nurse during the height of the epidemic. Now, she’s hoping to use comics as a way to begin conversations around caregiving. 

Local Photographer Hopes to Uplift One Person at a Time

Chef Rick Bayless' photo for The Uplifted project. (Kentaro Yamada)

Two years ago, Park Ridge resident Kentaro Yamada began work on a series of human interest portraits – with a twist: each would include a prized possession levitating before the subject’s eyes.

UIC App Designed to Track Bipolar Disorder Wins $200K Grant

The BiAffect app, the winner in a contest using Apple’s Research Kit, was developed to predict manic episodes and depressive moods in people with bipolar disorder, based on how they interact with their cellphones.

City’s Expansion of HIV Services Sees Increase in Numbers Served

More than 3,600 Chicagoans living with HIV received primary care services during the first year of a partnership between the Chicago Department of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago and Howard Brown Health. 

Shedd Aquarium to Replace Tiered Pricing with Flat Fee

(© Shedd Aquarium / Brenna Hernandez)

Starting July 1, visitors to the Shedd can experience nearly all the aquarium has to offer for one price. And for Chicago residents, this means potential savings of nearly 50 percent.

Healthy Mice Born From 3-D Printed Ovaries

A scientist holds a bioprosthetic mouse ovary made of gelatin with tweezers. Inset: A mouse that was born from the bioprosthetic ovary lays next to its mother mouse. (Credit: Northwestern University)

Infertile mice with 3-D printed ovaries were able to give birth to healthy pups, according to a new study from Northwestern University.