It was an amazing few days at TEDMED last week. Johnson & Johnson has been a proud sponsor of TEDMED since the conference began, and I had heard from my colleagues that the event is uniquely impressive. This was my first time attending and I was not disappointed.
Against the backdrop of the beautiful Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, my fellow delegates and I heard from doctors, engineers, artists, moms, researchers, entrepreneurs and dozens of other brilliant thinkers on topics that ranged from medical breakthroughs and organic farming to data management and public policy. All in all, it was inspiring, enlightening, and a great chance to think about how we can – and perhaps more importantly, could -- approach healthcare differently to get better outcomes.
Here are just a few of the talks and ideas that have stuck with me:
- Jacob Scott, a radiation oncologist and cancer theoretician, who asked, "Can we stop the imaginectomies?" Jacob delivered a passionate and compelling argument for keeping imagination alive in medicine and medical research. He called medical school a "backstage pass to everything that's cool about the human body," and infected the audience with his love for science.
- Gregory Petsko, a neurology professor, who called for a sense of urgency about Alzheimer's disease -- which he pointed out is a disease of aging, not just the aged; and Reisa Sperling, Director of the Center for Alzheimer's Research and Treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who shared her view of tools and tests that might help tell normal cognitive aging from the onset of Alzheimer's.
- A conversation between tennis legend Billie Jean King and newswoman/activist Katie Couric about everything from equality for women to the importance of exercise and nutrition in schools.
- Mark Hyman, from the Institute of Functional Medicine, who brought new meaning to “social health” with examples of how peer support makes a difference in preventing and managing chronic diseases. “Getting healthy is a team sport,” he said.
- Virginia Breen, who shared her autistic daughter Elizabeth’s struggle to communicate. Elizabeth can't speak, but she hears and observes, then expresses herself through poetry. Describing her relentless quest to find answers about her daughter's condition, Virginia said one of the most inspiring things I heard all week: that there is a difference between "I don't know" and "I don't know yet."
In addition to the main stage, TEDMED also featured a Social Hub area where delegates could talk to some of the sponsors and speakers. You can read stories from the TEDMED blog and from ABC News about some of the immersive technologies and demonstrations we and our fellow hosts shared in our booths.
Many thanks to all of the folks who made this year’s TEDMED possible. Hope to see you next year!