Michaeleen Doucleff

Michaeleen Doucleff is a reporter for NPR's Science Desk. She reports for the radio and the Web for NPR's global health and development blog, Goats and Soda. Doucleff focuses on disease outbreaks, drug development, and trends in global health.

In 2014, Doucleff was part of the team that earned a George Foster Peabody award for its coverage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. For the series, Doucleff reported on how the epidemic ravaged maternal health and how the virus spreads through the air. In 2015, Doucleff and Senior Producer Jane Greenhalgh reported on the extreme prejudices faced by young women in Nepal when they're menstruating. Their story was the second most popular one on the NPR website in 2015 and contributed to the NPR series on 15-year-old girls around the world, which won two Gracie Awards.

As a science journalist, Doucleff has reported on a broad range of topics, from vaccination fears and the microbiome to beer biophysics and dog psychology.

Before coming to NPR in 2012, Doucleff was an editor at the journal Cell, where she wrote about the science behind pop culture. Doucleff has a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Berkeley, California, and a master's degree in viticulture and enology from the University of California, Davis.

In 1954, a mysterious disease struck children in Manila. They were showing up at hospitals with internal bleeding. Their blood vessels were leaking.

Over the next few years, similar outbreaks cropped up every rainy season. And then in 1958, a massive outbreak hit Bangkok. More than 2,500 children were hospitalized. About 10 percent of them died.

Earlier this month, the toy-giant Mattel announced it had pulled the plug on plans to sell an interactive gadget for children.

The device, called Aristotle, looked similar to a baby monitor with a camera. Critics called it creepy.

Powered by artificial intelligence, Aristotle could get to know your child — at least that was how the device was being pitched.

There's an idea percolating up from the anthropology world that may make you rethink what makes you happy.

The idea is not new. It surfaced in the popular consciousness back in the late 1960s and helped to galvanize a growing environmental movement.

And now several books are bringing it back into the limelight.

Scientists have started to unravel a key mystery about the Zika virus. And the findings are almost unbelievable.

"When I first started reading the study, I said, 'Oh, my gosh, that's amazing,' says molecular biologist Alysson Muotri, at the University of California, San Diego, who wasn't involved in the study.

The study — published Thursday in the journal Science — demonstrates how an obscure virus may have transformed into a global threat almost overnight.

There's at least one thing Bill Gates and President Trump agree on: The media don't always get things right.

For Gates, the problem is with the foreign aid coverage.

"The nature of news is mostly to cover big setbacks," Gates says. "So if a little bit of money was spent improperly, that's what gets the news coverage, even though 99 percent of it was spent well."

This focus on failure leads to false impressions about the effectiveness of foreign aid, says Gates.

Back in August, a study came out about bacteria in kitchen sponges that sent home chefs into a frenzy.

But when we looked carefully at the study, we realized much of the news coverage about it was incorrect.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, undertook a thorough investigation into how many critters are living in used kitchen sponges. And the results were jawdropping.

This past year China had the largest outbreak of a deadly bird flu since the virus was first detected in March 2013.

For the past five years, China has had annual waves of H7N9 outbreaks that peak around January and February.

During the 2017 season, the country reported nearly the same number of cases as all four previous years combined, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report Thursday. The virus cropped up in more geographic regions. And it showed signs of evolving in ways that cause concern.

In the past few years, there have been so many "superbugs" appearing in hospitals around the world that we here at Goats and Soda haven't had the time or resources to report on all of them.

But a new type of pneumonia emerging in China seems so important that we dropped what we were doing to write about it.

Doctors in Hangzhou in southeastern China have detected a a type of pneumonia that is both highly drug-resistant and very deadly. It also spreads easily.

Back in April, we published a story that garnered a huge response — and empathy — from readers.

The words "endangered species" often conjure up images of big exotic creatures. Think elephants, leopards and polar bears.

But there's another of type of extinction that may be occurring, right now, inside our bodies.

Last week, NPR had a story that garnered a huge response from listeners and Shots readers.

If you're in desperate need for some good news, look no further.

Scientists in the U.S. and India have found an inexpensive treatment that could possibly save hundreds of thousands of newborns each year.

And it turns out, the secret weapon was sitting in Asian kitchens all along: probiotic bacteria that are common in kimchi, pickles and other fermented vegetables.

I admit it. I have a "mummy tummy," also known as "mommy pooch." You know, that soft jelly belly you retain after having a baby — it makes you look a few months pregnant.

I've tried to convince myself that the pooch is a valiant badge of motherhood, but who am I kidding? The pooch bothers me. And it turns out it has been causing back pain.

So when I hear that a fitness coach and doctor have come up with a technique that can flatten the pooch quickly and easily, I think, "Why not?"

There's no question about it: Breast-feeding is hard. And we aren't born knowing to do it.

As we reported a few weeks ago, women all around the world have problems when they first start breast-feeding. From midtown Manhattan to northern Namibia, they need help to learn how to do it.

In the the 1960s, a Stanford psychologist ran an experiment to study children's self-control.

It's called the marshmallow test. And it's super simple.

Kids ages 3 to 5 choose a treat — an Oreo cookie, a pretzel stick or a marshmallow. Then researchers give the child brief instructions: You can eat the treat now, but if you can wait for me to return, you'll get two treats.

The researchers leave the room. And the child just has to sit there staring at a marshmallow — and deciding whether to exert self-control or to dig in.

There's a big push in the U.S. from pediatricians to have mothers of newborns breast-feed exclusively for at least six months.

And many new moms want to. But only about 60 percent who start off breast-feeding keep it up for six months or more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In many ways, parenting newborns seems instinctual.

We see a little baby, and we want to hold her. Snuggle and kiss her. Even just her smell seems magical.

Many of us think breast-feeding is similar.

"I had that idea before my first child was born," says Brooke Scelza, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Los Angeles, California. "I definitely thought, 'Oh, I'm going to figure that out. Like how hard can it be?' "

Eye-popping. That's the word that comes to mind when you hear how many viruses are likely hiding out around the world in animals.

"We expect there are hundreds of thousands of mammalian viruses out there," says Kevin Olival, a disease ecologist at EcoHealth Alliance, who led the study.

Really? Hundreds of thousands?

"Yes, it's likely," Olival says. "Any given mammal species is likely to have 20, 30 or even 100 viruses. When you add that up around the planet, you get a big number."

Two years ago, Eqbal Dauqan was going to work in the morning as usual. She's a biochemistry professor. And was driving on the freeway, when suddenly: "I felt something hit my car, but I didn't know what it was because I was driving very fast," she says.

Dauqan reached the parking lot. Got out of the car and looked at the door. What she saw left her speechless.

"A bullet hit the car, just on the door," she says.

The door had stopped the bullet. And Dauqan was OK. She has no idea where the bullet came from. But it turned out to be an ominous sign of what was to come.

Zika may have fallen from headlines, especially with everything going on in politics these days, but the threat remains.

And recommendations for pregnant women haven't changed: Pregnant women — and those trying to get pregnant — should not travel to places where the Zika virus is circulating.

It's just too risky because Zika can cause birth defects.

But what about babies? Or kids? Is it safe to travel with them?

There's no doubt about it: Zika is on the retreat in the Americas.

In Brazil, cases are down by 95 percent from last year. Across the Caribbean, outbreaks have subsided. And in Florida, the virus seems to have gone into hiding. Health officials haven't investigated a new Zika case for more than 45 days in Miami-Dade County.

Ten years ago, my husband and I were traveling around South Africa for a few weeks and fell in love with the baboons.

They were everywhere. Eating fruit in the middle of the road. Having sex on the side of a hiking trail. Even just hanging out in a gas station parking lot.

They're magnificent creatures. Weighing up to 100 pounds, they have this alluring attitude — kind of like Sam Elliot in The Big Lebowski, sipping a beer at a bar, ready to offer sage advice.

When Ebola erupted in West Africa a few years ago, it was catastrophic.

But one good thing emerged from the outbreak: The development of an Ebola vaccine-- a powerful vaccine.

A rare outbreak of botulism has hospitalized nine people and killed one man in northern California, health officials say.

The outbreak began early last month when several people fell ill after eating nacho cheese sauce bought at a gas station in Walnut Grove, Calif., just outside Sacramento.

When planning a summer trip abroad, it's easy to think, "Oh, I'll just hop over to a travel clinic, and they'll tell me everything I need to know — and do — to keep from getting sick."

But that's not always the case.

A study published last week in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that travel clinics missed giving the measles vaccine to about half of eligible travelers.

About 450 million years, animals made one of the most important decisions in Earth's history: They left the wet, nourishing seas and started living on the dry, desolate land.

At that moment, humanity's problems with superbugs probably began.

Scientists at the Broad Institute have found evidence that an important group of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are as old as terrestrial animals themselves.

On April 28, the magazine LensCulture posted a photo of what appeared to be a man raping a girl who looks like a young teenager.

The magazine — which has nearly a million Facebook followers — was using the photo to promote a competition in partnership with Magnum Photos, which cost $60 to enter 10 photos. "Don't miss out!" the post said, a few sentences above the photo.

Come July, the yellow fever vaccine could be tough to find.

So, if you're traveling this summer to a place with the disease, you probably want to schedule a trip to a clinic sooner rather than later, the Centers for Diseases for Control and Prevention tells NPR.

"Take heed of our warning: Plan ahead," says CDC spokesperson Tom Skinner. "It may be difficult to get this vaccine. And if you can't get it, then you should postpone your trip."

Back in the 1960s, a female doctor in Japan created a powerful drug to help mothers who hemorrhage after childbirth.

The medicine is inexpensive to make. It's safe to use. And it stops bleeding quickly by helping keep naturally forming blood clots intact.

The drug's inventor, Utako Okamoto, hoped that the drug called tranexamic acid would be used to help save moms' lives.

Most creepy, crawly bugs are pretty much harmless when it comes to infectious diseases.

But there are two classes of little critters that cause big — and we're talking big — problems: ticks and mosquitoes.

To learn how climate change could alter the course of tick- and mosquito-borne diseases, we talked to two scientists who have devoted a major chunk of their careers to answering that question.

Let's start with the bloodsuckers that can stay on your skin for days.

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