Shahla Farzan

Shahla Farzan is a general assignment reporter and weekend newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio. She comes most recently from KBBI Public Radio in Homer, Alaska, where she covered issues ranging from permafrost thaw to disputes over prayer in public meetings. A science nerd to the core, Shahla spent six years studying native bees, eventually earning her PhD in ecology from the University of California-Davis. She has also worked as an intern at Capital Public Radio in Sacramento and a podcaster for BirdNote. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, combing flea markets for tchotchkes, and curling up with a good book. 

Researchers at Washington University are collecting samples from hundreds of people who have had COVID-19 — including blood, saliva and urine.

As scientists scramble to answer a multitude of questions about the coronavirus, medical samples are becoming an ever more critical piece of the puzzle. By creating a centralized specimen bank and sharing samples among labs, Wash U physicians are hoping to streamline the research process.

Updated at 5:50 p.m., June 16

A crew removed the statue of Christopher Columbus from Tower Grove Park in St. Louis with little fanfare early Tuesday morning.

The statue, which has stood at the east entrance to the park near South Grand Boulevard for more than a century, has become the subject of scrutiny in recent years. Petitioners have called for its removal, citing the explorer’s treatment of Native Americans. 

After sitting empty for months, offices and commercial buildings in St. Louis are beginning to reopen — many with freshly installed Plexiglas barriers to protect workers from passing the coronavirus.

But researchers warn of other health risks that may be lurking in the plumbing systems of these once-shuttered buildings.

With fewer users, pipes have held stagnant water for weeks or months at a time. Some waterborne pathogens thrive in this environment, while heavy metals can slowly leach out of aging pipes. The sheer number of unoccupied buildings during the pandemic has some researchers concerned about a potential spike in waterborne illnesses. 

NASA is set to launch its first space mission from American soil in nearly a decade — with an astronaut from St. Louis County aboard.

St. Ann native Bob Behnken is part of a two-person crew heading to the International Space Station on the Crew Dragon spacecraft, a joint venture between NASA and the commercial aerospace company SpaceX. 

The historic mission, scheduled to launch Wednesday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is also the first time a commercially built U.S. rocket and spacecraft will carry humans to the space station.

Washington University researchers are launching an international study to test whether the drug chloroquine can prevent coronavirus infection.

Chloroquine and the closely related hydroxychloroquine have been used for decades for the prevention and treatment of malaria. But researchers are now examining whether the former might also be useful in the global fight against COVID-19. The collaborative team spanning four continents will enroll tens of thousands of health care workers in the clinical trial.

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