WXXI AM News

Brett Dahlberg

Health reporter and producer

Brett is the health reporter and a producer at WXXI News. He has a master’s degree from the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, and before landing at WXXI, he was an intern at WNYC and with Ian Urbina of the New York Times. He also produced freelance reporting work focused on health and science in New York City. 

Brett grew up in Bremerton, Washington, and holds a bachelor’s degree from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. 

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The University of Rochester Medical Center has received a multi-million dollar federal grant to fund new research into e-cigarettes.

There’s a public impression that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to conventional smoking, the university said, but precious little research has corroborated that idea.

Cornell University

Brian Wansink, the Cornell professor who authored six articles retracted by the Journal of the American Medical Association Wednesday, has been removed from all teaching and research at the university, and will retire at the end of this academic year.

“I have been tremendously honored and blessed to be a Cornell professor,” Wansink said.

Cornell University

The Journal of the American Medical Association has retracted six articles by a prominent Cornell researcher.

Brian Wansink, listed as an author on all the studies, heads Cornell's Food and Brand Lab and the university's Behavioral Economics and Consumer Choice institute.

Wansink's work has been featured in The New York Times and O, the Oprah Magazine, and on the Today Show, but the American Medical Association has now said it cannot verify that the results of at least a half-dozen of his studies are valid.

National Institute on Aging

Most American adults are worried they’ll develop Alzheimer’s, but they’re also optimistic that there will be a cure for the disease in their lifetimes, according to survey results released Monday.

The nationwide survey, conducted by Harris polling on behalf of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and pharmaceutical companies Novartis and Amgen, also showed that most American adults want to participate in medical research.

More than a third of the respondents said they were “very willing” to be part of a study.

Ontario County Department of Public Health

It’s like “delivering nutrition through the back door,” Maggie McHugh said.

McHugh is the senior nutritionist for Eat Smart New York’s Finger Lakes region. Her organization is partnering with Ontario County to encourage food bank donors to make healthier contributions.

“We provide resources and tools for community members to learn more what healthy food items that they can donate to their local food pantries are,” said McHugh.

Low-sodium canned vegetables or canned fruit packed in water instead of heavy syrup are examples of easy healthy donations, McHugh said.

Getty Images

Apple’s newest watch also offers a new medical device: one of the first over-the-counter electrocardiograms, or EKGs.

Apple watches have had onboard heart-rate monitors since their introduction in 2014, but the fourth generation watch, due to be released Sept. 21, offers an FDA-approved ability to analyze heart rhythm, too.

Heart rhythm analysis allows the watch to detect signs of conditions including atrial fibrillation, which the Centers for Disease Control and prevention says affects millions of Americans.

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Childhood lead exposure is down in Monroe County, according to the public health department’s most recent data, even as children in some areas remain much more susceptible than others.

The data, which come from blood samples taken from children less than 6 years old in Monroe County last year, showed that elevated blood lead levels are concentrated in the city of Rochester.

Of the 20 children whose tests measured the highest blood lead level, 19 of them were in the city. That’s no surprise, said county health commissioner Michael Mendoza.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Federal officials called it a blitz — “the largest coordinated enforcement effort in the FDA’s history” in response to concerns that e-cigarette use has become an “epidemic” among youths.

After a nationwide undercover operation aimed at identifying stores selling e-cigarettes to people under 18 years old, the agency sent more than 1,300 fines and warning letters to businesses that it said violated the rules.

Eight of those letters went to businesses in New York state: two in Buffalo; one in Getzville in Erie County; two on Long Island; one in Rockland County; and two in New York City.

Public Library of Science

A Monroe County resident has died from West Nile virus.

It’s the only death from the disease in New York state so far this year, according to the most recent data from the state health department.

Only two other counties in the state outside of New York City, where data is tracked separately, have documented a case of the virus this year. Both of those are downstate counties, with one reported case each.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

A Rochester startup is looking to solve a medical problem with a global scope. VisualDx is building a database of what diseases look like on all skin colors, in an effort to correct persistent racial inequalities in diagnosis.

Scientists have known for decades about racial inequalities in access to medical care. A landmark 1985 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for example, found that minority Americans lived further from doctors and had less ability to pay for medical care compared to white people.

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