KCUR health reporter Alex Smith has been awarded a week-long media fellowship at Harvard Medical School to support his reporting on the opioid crisis and pain management.
Smith will join a handful of other journalists in September to study the science and treatment of pain with top scientists and clinicians.
Smith was selected based on his previous reporting on the topic, including nationally broadcast pieces on pain management without opioids, the national shortage of opioid drug treatment counselors and the care of infants born dependent on opioids.
The fellowship will enable him to dig deeper into the issues of pain and opioids, including the opioid epidemic’s continued toll on American communities and how the crisis is leading doctors and patients to reconsider how they think about pain and its management.
"The opioid crisis is a much larger topic than the unfortunate statistics,” Smith says. “It's also leading many doctors, patients and even entire communities to rethink healthcare and treatment. I'm excited to have the chance to tell how that's playing out in Kansas and Missouri with the help of Harvard Medical School experts.”
The fellowship, now in its 21st year, brings top health, medical and science journalists together with preeminent experts in their field. Topics this year include the neurobiology of pain, pain as an evolutionary mechanism, measuring pain and the development of non-opioid analgesics.
Smith joined KCUR in 2006 as an assistant producer. In January 2014, he started working on air as a health/science reporter.
Last year, he won a prestigious national Edward R. Murrow Award for a radio feature about a deaf man who regained his hearing through cochlear implants. In 2016, he received the Kansas Association of Broadcasters’ Tony Jewell Award for Community Service for a series of stories on health outcomes in Wyandotte County.
Smith graduated in 2002 from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he majored in communications studies. Before becoming a journalist, he studied electronic music and sound design for theater.
Smith is married to Gina Kaufmann, host of KCUR’s “Central Standard” talk show. They have a son, Ari, who recently celebrated his 2nd birthday.
Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies