Meet the Final 11 Hive Startups

Last but not least, today we unveil the final 11 startups that we will welcome into The Hive at TEDMED this September 10-12 in Washington, DC, and San Francisco, CA. The companies we introduce are improving healthcare outcomes and the patient experience by making information available and accessible, regardless of geography or technology.

We’re very excited about this year’s Hive members – get familiar with these and all the startups joining us on

AdverseEvents aims to increase patient safety and reduce healthcare costs by providing easy access to comprehensive drug side-effect data.

CareSync‘s combination of applications and services lets patients share their healthcare information and collaborate with families, care teams, and providers in managing their health.

i-Human Patients‘ cloud-based e-learning solutions are like flight simulators that help healthcare professionals and students develop critical, cognitive competencies to make appropriate interventions and treatment plans.

MediSafe‘s data-driven Medication Management Platform is designed to improve patient outcomes and reduce expenses throughout the medication distribution chain by creating better patient engagement and medication adherence

NextGxDx is expediting genetic testing for patients with an online marketplace and HIPAA-compliant platform that allows healthcare providers to search, compare, order tests and receive results electronically.

PillPack delivers personalized rolls of pre-sorted medications to make it easy for people to take the right medication at the right time.

Pristine‘s flagship product, EyeSight, is pioneering the delivery of telehealth via Google Glass to break down physical and geographic barriers to accessing medical expertise.

SafeUseNow has developed an analytical software to model patient, prescriber, and pharmacy behavior in order to manage risk, fight fraud, combat waste, and decrease the abuse and misuse of prescription drugs.

Smile Train leverages technology to provide training and funding to empower local doctors in more than 85 developing countries to provide free cleft lip and palate repair surgery for children in their own communities.

Tiatros uses social media technologies to put patients at the center of their own Personal Health Networks, surrounded by care providers, family members, and other stakeholders to make healthcare better, safer, less costly, and more easily accessible.

VoiceItt‘s personalized speech recognition technology enables people who suffer from motor, speech, and language disorders to freely express themselves and be understood in any setting, using mobile and wearable devices.

Also, meet Zen Chu in our latest interview with the thought leaders who curated this year’s Hive. Chu is Healthcare Entrepreneur-In-Residence at MIT, co-director of the MIT/HST Healthcare Ventures graduate course, and overseer of MIT’s Hacking Medicine initiatives. He also runs Accelerated Medical Ventures, where he serves as co-founder and first investor for several medical and software companies.

- The TEDMED Team

Facing the Facts of Childhood Obesity

On Tuesday, as part of the Great Challenges program, we convened some of the nation’s top leaders in health and research around the topic of reducing childhood obesity. The conversation touched on the need for a multifaceted approach that includes action from communities, policy makers, schools, families, and individuals. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, our partner on the Great Challenges program, posted the following recap, which provides context and explores the discussion:

A 2012 report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Trust for America’s Health concluded that if the adult and childhood obesity rates in 2011 continued to increase at their steady paces, then by 2030 nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults would be obese and every single state would have obesity rates above 44 percent.

Data now show that childhood obesity rates have stabilized. In fact, for the first time in a decade the obesity rates among young children from low-income families in many states is trending down.

Helping lead the way in this important public health issue has been the city of Philadelphia, Penn., which has worked to improve access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity.

“We were very fortunate in Philadelphia to have colleagues…who have developed a better understanding of childhood obesity,” said Don Schwarz, former Health Commissioner and Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity, City of Philadelphia, and will also soon take on the role of director for RWJF’s Demand Team. “What that has meant is that Philadelphia was able to take a body of knowledge and bring it to scale. The partnership in Philadelphia that has allowed that to happen goes across government and between government and the private sector and community organizations—just everyday Philadelphians. So that kind of partnership, that wonderful knowledge base, has I believed turned the corner on childhood obesity, particularly for children who are of disadvantaged communities.”

Schwarz’s comments came during the Tuesday, July 22 Google Hangout TEDMED Great Challenges: A Candid Conversation About Childhood Obesity. The panel was moderated by Richard Besser, Chief Health and Medical Editor for ABC News.

Every member of the panel echoed the importance of partnerships, and Besser succinctly explained their critical role in not just obesity prevention but all public health efforts.

“The more creatively you can think and the wider variety of partners you can pull in, the more likely you are to be successful,” he said.

At the heart of Philadelphia’s success has been the important role that schools play in that community partnership. According to Schwarz, for the past decade the city’s schools have worked to reshape how they approach children’s health and wellbeing, including comprehensive nutrition policies, a new food environment that emphasizes healthy choices and more opportunities for kids to be physically active. One can’t be successful without the other.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF’s president and CEO, also touched on this pairing, noting how the progress that’s been made (“It’s fragile in many ways, but it’s progress nonetheless”) is rooted in an overall change in the attitude and values over how to approach the issue of childhood obesity as a nation. Where before it was viewed as an issue of personal responsibility, more and more people are realizing that parents, schools, public organizations and private organizations must all come together to investigate, implement and expand healthy policies and practices for all kids. What’s more, people are also expecting and demanding these resources from their communities.

“We have the real beginning of a change in values that will, I think, accelerate the move to a healthy weight for all children,” she said.

Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, discussed the importance of coupling effective medical treatment with surrounding a child with a culture of health, saying in particular that a culture that rewards individual successes is one that will see the greatest success overall.

“We need to stress whether for kids or for adults the importance of incremental change,” she said. “If we’re able to create an environment where…losing even 5, 7, 10 pounds, beginning to walk, starting to eat healthier—if we can have an environment where those things are rewarded, we will see continued, longer-term progress for that child and for their family.”

Businesses can also play a role in reinforcing this culture of health, according to Brown, especially has the health and wellbeing of employees and their families has slowly transitioned from an HR-only subject to more prominence. Wellness programs improve personal health while reinvigorating the surrounding community, which in turn helps ensure a stronger return on investment.

But just as Lavizzo-Mourey noted the fragility of the progress so far, Elissa Epel, an Associate Professor at the UCSF School of Medicine, spoke about the continued stigmatization of obesity, which can impede efforts to reduce rates, both because overweight and obese children can feel needlessly and wrongfully shamed and because other facets of the community don’t fully understand the difficulties that many people can face when it comes to getting and staying healthy.

With research and data producing more evidence every day underlining how stress, genetic predispositions and other factors can limit control under certain conditions, when it comes to childhood obesity—and to obesity in general—we need to keep shifting from the entrenched model of personal blame to one of understanding the power of the food environment. This is especially important because stigma leads to stress leads to poor eating leads to more stigma…a cycle that a quick glance at the numbers shows far too many people suffer in.

“Stigma is toxic,” she said. “Stigma is a source of chronic stress.”

Hearkening back to the particular progress Philadelphia has made in reducing childhood obesity rates in disadvantaged communities, Epel also spoke about how low socioeconomic status also brings with it the unfortunate pairing of more toxic stress and more opportunities to turn to junk food as a coping mechanism—or at least far less access to healthy alternatives than you might see in other communities.

Epel also spoke to the core concept of public health—not being content with treating the disease, but treating the sources of the disease before symptoms such as obesity can manifest and cause harm. In that way, communities need to look at childhood obesity as a trans-generational problem that begins incorporating community players, ensuring food security and implementing other practices to improve the health of future mothers and their future children.

Still, despite all the successes across the country that were discussed, much more is needed, with an eye toward prevention as “the name of the game,” according to Lisa Simpson, President and CEO of Academy Health. That begins with a focus on a research community that continues to dig down into the risk factors and that is supported by the entire community.

“We need to continue to have these kinds of discoveries that help us understand obesity…and very importantly how to intervene to prevent it, and if the child does become overweight or obese how to treat it,” said Simpson. “At the same time, the research community—and here also the policy and practice communities—need to come together to then, once we do know what works, partner and work on the dissemination and implementation of good evidence.”

Reprinted with permission from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Public Health blog.

The Last Speakers Announced for the TEDMED 2014 Stage Program

We are proud to announce the remaining speakers who will share ideas and insight as a part of a phenomenal stage program designed to unlock your imagination. From an end-of-life bioethicist to an expert in toxic stress and inventor of a safer syringe, these global leaders in health and medicine are paving the way to a healthier future. This exceptional collection of thought leaders and innovators in San Francisco, CA and Washington, DC from September 10-12.

Without further ado, here are 14 more speakers who will grace the TEDMED 2014 stage:


End-of-life ethicist and writer Peggy Battin will talk about re-examining beliefs around an individual’s right to autonomy.

Virtual medical school pioneer Erica Frank will challenge assumptions about medical education with a revolutionary solution to the global doctor shortage.


Sigrid Fry-Revere, an organ donation ethicist and Aristotle enthusiast, will be sharing a surprisingly effective but often overlooked solution to the problem of organ shortage.

HolmesGame changer Elizabeth Holmes, who heads up lab diagnostic company Theranos, will share insights and technology that have put her at the cutting edge of high-test medical diagnostics.


Carl Hart, drug data dealer, professor, neuroscientist, and author, will describe a provocative, evidence-based approach to the crisis of drug abuse.


Lieutenant General Patricia Horoho, the first nurse and first woman Army Surgeon General, will be discussing ways in which health care can actually cause harm.

KoskaPersistent inventor and global life-saver Marc Koska will talk about inventing the game changing Auto Disable syringe, which cannot be reused and halts the spread of blood borne illnesses.

MorganSteinerLeslie Morgan Steiner, a motherhood investigator and author of bestselling memoir Crazy Love, will share what she learned investigating a successful medical surrogacy industry across the globe – and how it might help the US.

NabelFormer head of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, founder of the Red Dress Heart Truth Campaign, cardiologist, and current president of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Elizabeth “Betsy” Nabel will show the audience how accepting what you do not know can be a strength.


Author and reflective physician Danielle Ofri will make a powerful case that one of the things medical professionals are most resistant to could lead to dramatic improvements in care.


Gail Reed, an expert in the Cuban health system, will spotlight a completely counterintuitive program to relieve the global shortage of physicians in poor countries.

VolkowNeuroscientist Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute for Drug Abuse, will apply a lens of addiction to the obesity epidemic.

WebsterJohns Hopkins professor and gun violence researcher Daniel Webster will examine hopeful possibilities to solve the gun control puzzle.

WenTransparent physician Leana Wen will discuss a controversial approach to medical transparency and full disclosure that could put the patient in the front seat.

With only seven weeks to go until we kickoff TEDMED 2014, space is filling up fast - be sure to apply today!

Infecting Healthcare with an Entrepreneurial Ethos

ZenChuAs Healthcare Entrepreneur-In-Residence at MIT, Zen Chu co-directs the MIT/HST Healthcare Ventures graduate course and oversees MIT’s Hacking Medicine initiatives. He also runs Accelerated Medical Ventures, where he serves as cofounder and first investor for several medical and software companies. Earlier in his career, Chu co-founded and served as CEO for 3D-Matrix Medical Inc., a venture-backed MIT regenerative medicine company that had a successful IPO in 2011. He has also managed and led new ventures for Harvard Medical School, Wyss Institute, NetVentures, and Hewlett-Packard.

TEDMED: What’s the most remarkable innovation you are seeing in health tech or medicine, and what is driving it?

Chu: It’s the digital transformation of healthcare that’s enabling scalable medicine.

Our Healthcare Ventures course and the Hacking Medicine ethos at MIT define scalable medicine as “impacting and improving access and quality while reducing costs.” Most of that happens not through increasing the number of doctors and health professionals, but by moving it down the skill curve, all the way to getting patients engaged in their own care. That’s how you scale medicine, not just in the U.S. but globally.

What’s driving this is that we’re taking what’s been pioneered in Silicon Valley—sensors and technologies and software and the services enabled by them—and rolling that out with a different business model. We teach that even a nonprofit with a medical mission needs to be intentional about its business model and how it is sustainable.

TEDMED: What’s the most important factor for entrepreneurial success in health tech—and is that different from your own key to success?

Chu: Health tech is more complex than IT or other traditional entrepreneurial verticals. You’ve got so many stakeholders, third-party payment, and all of the incentives and disincentives therein. So, the key profile for successful entrepreneurs is resilience side by side with a mission. Healthcare is complex enough to frustrate even the most skilled and experienced teams. If you don’t believe in your particular mission, at some point it’s easier to walk away from the startup than continue on. The only thing that keeps teams together during those lows is resilience and the mission.

That’s no different from my own key to success. I have co-founded three companies, collaborated on many more, served on boards, and been an investor in others. Those are the skills that you look for.

I believe that entrepreneurship is what is going to save healthcare. To overcome the challenges we’re facing, we need that combination of creativity not just from clinicians and researchers, but from entrepreneurs and healthcare designers.

TEDMED: For entrepreneurs with needle-moving ideas in global health, what are the keys to finding collaborators and supporters across specialties, industries, and geographies?

Chu: Many entrepreneurs and clinicians who want to do good in global health don’t realize that it’s not enough to be cheap. Oftentimes you have to offer a very different solution for the developing world. You can’t just transplant a therapy or a protocol from the developed world. The realities on the ground in these hospitals or local clinics are meaningful. The key to really impacting a country outside of the developed world is in targeting your solution to the local resources and culture and capabilities.

More generally, the key to navigating the healthcare challenge of complexity is to have a clear user and a clear job to be done. A lot of entrepreneurial teams will have a mission, but it’s too broad. Often they’re trying to make win-win-wins for the patient, insurer, provider, and supplier. They end up compromising and not focusing on a single user, whether it’s the patient or the provider or the supply chain manager. Narrowing it to a single user and job to be done makes everything else go much faster with less money.

For instance, Covidien is a company that rolled out surgical tools in China. Their cholecystectomy kit cost $300 in the U.S., and China has a huge market for gallbladder removal surgery. But the average reimbursement for that procedure is around $10 in China, so the math doesn’t work there. It’s not enough to offer a solution that’s well accepted here. You actually need a completely different solution there.

Or, with regard to culture, consider that cardiologists in the top hospitals in China and India see 100 – 150 patients per day. In the U.S., they complain if they have more than 20 patients in a day. The way doctors in the U.S. listen to and assess a patient to arrive at a definitive diagnosis is completely unrealistic in China and India. Your clinical algorithm completely changes because of patient volumes and the organization of hospitals there. Patients who go back for treatment of the same problem don’t even see the same doctor. So doctors think of everyone they send away as cured; they don’t even have that learning feedback loop.

Those are the fundamental differences in global health that you don’t really appreciate until you’re on the ground. There is no substitute for being on the ground and localizing your solution to that geography and system and culture.

TEDMED: In 2020, you’re asked to give a TEDMED talk about the biggest transformation you helped bring about in your field. What is it?

Chu: I’ve done multiple companies, but there’s a limit to the impact that any one company can have. What’s exciting to me is that I get to teach at MIT and in the Boston medical community. We’ve also been asked by BIO to host a Healthcare Hackathon for biotech and pharma company executives to try to inject a new level of innovation by teaching them how to apply new technologies and digital transformation around their pills and therapies. We’ll try to teach them design processes from Silicon Valley, agile product design, and user-centric design combined with healthcare business model frameworks. That’s what hasn’t really been taught well, not just to clinicians, but to entrepreneurs.

One of the best ways we pull ideas out of groups at hospitals and at conferences is to have them start talking about the terrible experiences in healthcare. There are so many of them. Whether you’re a physician, patient, supply chain manager, or back office nurse, there are terrible experiences in healthcare because we fundamentally underinvested in technology for decades compared to other industries. That’s the opportunity for entrepreneurs. The bar is so low.

Teaching those methods for business models in healthcare and medicine so that we can go beyond the reach of physicians, to what is much more scalable … that’s what’s rewarding. I think of what I’m doing as giving out openly and hoping to infect as many people with that ethos for entrepreneurship impacting healthcare around the world.

8 Outstanding Co-Hosts Announced for TEDMED 2014

unnamed-1It’s almost here! TEDMED 2014 will take place in just under two months… and we’re proud to announce our “navigators” for this exciting adventure.


TEDMED curator and chairman Jay Walker will open the event on September 10 in Washington, DC and close our program on September 12 in San Francisco, CA.

In between, TEDMED Delegates will have the pleasure of meeting — or getting reacquainted with — some of the most energetic human dynamos and inspiring thought leaders we know.

In alphabetical order, our 2014 co-hosts will include:

Co-host Venue
TEDMED director of stage content Dr. Nassim Assefi
FUN FACT: A global nomad and self-proclaimed “thrillionaire,” Nassim is also the published author of a critically well-received novel, “Aria.”
Washington, DC
TEDMED Chief Operating Officer and partner Shirley Bergin
FUN FACT: As a child, Shirley loved Peter Pan and always wanted to visit Neverland. Today we call this mother of two un-Lost Boys, “TEDMED’s Superhero in Residence.”
San Francisco, CA
Geneticist, MacAurthur “Genius” Fellow and intellectual provocateur Dr. Carlos Bustamante
FUN FACT: When he’s not doing research or exploding old paradigms, Carlos can be found sailing – a sport he calls “the perfect combination of adrenaline and intellectual challenge.”
San Francisco, CA
TEDMED’s “keeper of the flame” and president, Jon Ellenthal
FUN FACT: The door to Jon’s office has a poster-sized patent for an amazing invention – himself – listing his parents Ira and Judy as the “inventors.”
Washington, DC
Globe-trotting medical emergency journalist (and Pulitzer Prize winner) Dr. Sheri Fink
FUN FACT: She has reported on health, medicine and science in every continent but Antarctica…apparently there aren’t many medical emergencies or wars among Emperor penguins.
San Francisco, CA
Founder and director of UCSF’s Neuroscience Imaging Center (and host of his own PBS special) Dr. Adam Gazzaley
FUN FACT: Knew from age 7 he wanted to be a scientist, now he relaxes with nature photography.
San Francisco, CA
Yale medical intern, UN Delegate and passionate global activist Dr. Sandeep Kishore
FUN FACT: Sunny is the only co-host this year who is a former TEDMED speaker.
Washington, DC
Engineer, inventor and PhD candidate at MIT David Moinina Sengeh.
FUN FACT: David is also a rapper and writer of song lyrics.
Washington, DC

With this outstanding team at the helm — and with more than 80 dynamic speakers including scientists, journalists, activists, performers, artists and other thought leaders on our unified, two-city stage — TEDMED 2014 promises to be an unforgettable journey into the realm of “Unlocking Imagination in Service of Health and Medicine.”

Join us in DC or SF for this unforgettable ride…and stay tuned for more exciting news about the event.

Meet the next 10 Startups Joining Us in the Hive 2014

Today we introduce 10 more health-tech startups to join the many members of The Hive we’ve already announced. Be sure to join us at TEDMED 2014 this September 10-12 in Washington, DC, and San Francisco, CA where you’ll be able to meet these startups in person. The companies we introduce below use the web, mobile devices, and sensors in exciting and innovative ways – read more about them on

AssayDepotAssay Depot has created an online marketplace that connects buyers and sellers of research services making scientific innovation accessible for everyone.

ClinicalBoxClinicalBox creates software solutions for healthcare providers whose patients require complex, high-cost procedures and care that requires a high level of coordination and engagement.

EzDermEZDERM provides an iPad-powered solution for physicians and their staff to intuitively document patient visits via touch-based technology, anatomically accurate 3D body maps, and hand-writing + speech recognition.

HumanAPIHuman API’s universal health data platform collects and normalizes health data from any source, and allows developers to easily integrate it into any application.

LivelyLively enables older adults to remain independent, safe from falls and emergencies, all while staying connected to family and caregivers.

ManaMANA Nutrition is working to save the lives of those suffering from acute malnutrition by producing a ready-to-use therapeutic food, carefully formulated to provide a child’s basic nutritional needs.

MobileOCTMobileOCT transforms any camera into a powerful epithelial cancer discerning device, providing those with camera phones, but without access to medical facilities, life saving diagnoses.

OculogicaOculogica is developing eye-tracking-based technology to simplify detection of brain injury by assessing function of the nerves that move the eye and mediate vision

TickitShift Health Paradigms helps physicians to get freely answered and honest responses from their patients with their product “TickiT”, which relies on the power of personalized surveys and visually appealing data collection to collect information about health behavior.

Uberuber Diagnostics uses advanced medical electronics and cloud technology to deliver mobile diagnostic solutions that can significantly improve patient care in developing nations.

Also, catch our latest interview on the TEDMED Blog with the brilliant minds who curated the 2014 Hive. This week, meet Regis Kelly, Director of the California Institute for Science and Innovation known as QB3, which is comprised of more than 200 quantitative biologists who are converting discoveries into practical benefits for society.

Check back next week when we will introduce more of this year’s Hive startups.

- The TEDMED Team

Introducing the Next 10 Hive 2014 Startups

You’ve met 41 of the Hive 2014 startups so far. Today we introduce 10 more who will join us live this September 10-12 in Washington, DC, and San Francisco, CA, as we bring the world together to celebrate innovation and progress in health and medicine. Mobile devices, sensors, and apps will play a huge role in healthcare delivery, and many of these Hive inductees are leveraging those technologies in genius new ways. Read all about them here.


ActiveProtective created clothing and wearable devices that help protect wearers from injury through sensors that can detect falls or rapid motion and deploy micro-airbags.


BeneVir Biopharm is designing a cancer therapeutic that could benefit a wide range of cancer patients by inducing the immune system to recognize and rid the body of two types of tumor cells.


Clear Guide Medical has created next-generation ultrasound guidance for needle-based procedures that makes hitting the target as simple as playing a video game.


Infield Health marries custom patient data analytics and optimal care protocols to help patients use their mobile phones to adhere to care plans before and after hospital procedures.


Klappo is a platform that enables the development of apps to help people make educated choices about the food and ingredients they consume.


Maxwell Health provides a paperless, mobile-enabled operating system to dramatically simplify and streamline enrollment and management of employee benefits.


MessageDoc provides a secure and easy-to-use communication system to save providers time and money, improves relationships between practices, increases patient engagement, and helps avoid repeat visits.


Possible is pioneering an approach that integrates the best of private, public, and philanthropic models to deliver high-quality, low-cost healthcare to the world’s poor.


Remedy’s secure, HIPAA-compliant platform leverages Google Glass to enable remote experts to see through the eyes of on-site physicians and weigh in on procedures, treatment plans, or diagnoses.


TedCas has created an operating-system-agnostic way to enable surgeons to control any computer in the operating room via gestures and voice commands. It’s touch-less technology for healthcare.

Plus, check out the latest Hive Curator interview on the TEDMED Blog this week, featuring the Philips Healthcare Chief Design Officer Sean Hughes, who leads a global design team that is developing a broad range of word class products, interfaces, and consulting solutions to shape the future of healthcare and save lives. Read more here.

Eleven more Hive companies to be unveiled next week. Stay tuned @TEDMED.

- The TEDMED Team

Live Online Event: How does poverty affect health decisions?

Poverty affects every aspect of life and has particularly bad repercussions on human health. The stress of poverty has detrimental effects on the body — and especially the brain.

Two landmark studies are among the many to show poverty’s harsh impact. In the Whitehall Studies, researchers at the University College of London sought to understand how the health of men in the British Civil Service varied by rank. Published in 1978, the first study showed that men ranking lowest were nearly four times more likely to have their lives abruptly ended by heart disease than those at the top. More recently, economist Barry Bosworth at the Brookings Institute and Kathleen Burke of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published a study in April 2014 about the life expectancy of women in their mid-fifties with similarly morbid results. A woman at the top of the income scale could expect to live an entire decade longer than a woman of the same age at the lower end.

Obvious reasons exist for health problems among the poor. Physician shortages in low-income neighborhoods leave individuals in these areas with hard options. The closest primary care physician may be over an hour’s ride away on public transportation, which makes it financially taxing and time consuming to make prescribed visits. Beyond the health care system, individuals living below the poverty line are usually overworked, sleep deprived, not able to afford healthy food, and constantly exposed to less than adequate living conditions. The list goes on.

shutterstock_177309557Scientists have begun to discover that poverty takes its toll on health starting at an early age. A recent study published in Nature pointed to telomeres, which are the caps on the end of chromosomes. The research showed that children who grew up in low-income families had shorter telomeres than their peers from more wealthy families. While telomere length naturally reduces with aging, premature shortening of telomeres can lead to a shortened lifespan, as well as an increased risk of chronic disease.

Poverty May Affect Cognitive Function

This host of daily problems also causes toxic stress that doesn’t just target the immune system; it influences almost every aspect of the body, including the brain.
“Studies show chronic stress can change the chemical and physical structures of the brain,” Annie Gilbertson explains in her recent article, “Teaching Through Trauma.”
These changes can be linked to impairments in attention, concentration, memory, and cognition.

One haunting finding is that damage can be done before a child is even born. Psychological and physiological mechanisms activated in response to the stress of poverty send signals to a developing fetus about this environment. According to a 2012 study published in The Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics, stress-induced changes in brain architecture that occur in utero “have potentially permanent effects on a range of important functions, such as regulating stress physiology, learning new skills, and developing the capacity to make healthy adaptations to future adversity.”

With such cognitive disadvantages from the start, it’s no wonder that those in poverty don’t always make health conscious decisions. Johannes Haushofer and Ernst Fehr examined decision-making skills of individuals living below the poverty line in their recent research On the Psychology of Poverty. They found that individuals who are financially constrained favor short-term over long-term benefits when making decisions. This type of thinking is what drives a person with persistent chest pain to self-medicate in lieu of visiting a doctor, or to invest their paycheck in a tv instead of gym membership.


Intervening in the Cycle of Poverty

Does poverty automatically lead to a hopeless health outcome? A number of community-based interventions hope to turn the prognosis around. For example, some schools that serve low-income students have been looking for ways to support students and their families inside and outside of the classroom. These efforts include counseling for kids who have been through a traumatic experience or are battling a mental health issue, tutoring for students who are struggling with academics, and helping parents find healthcare providers. Other organizations cater to the needs of low-income areas by offering a one-stop-shop sort of clinic that not only offers basic medical care, but also groceries, eyeglasses, and clothing.

With more inclusive and accessible healthcare options, there is hope that some of the health problems caused by poverty will be abated.

Scientists are also making efforts to find the best way to help reverse or eradicate poverty’s health effects. Could education about basic health and nutrition for low-income populations help? Could cash transfers improve some of the health problems that result from poverty?

poverty hangout

To learn more about psychology of poverty and which interventions work best to thwart the cycle, join a live online event. Participants include:

Joe Rojas-Burke (moderator): Independent Journalist and Author of “The challenge of writing about people in poverty
James Redford: Director of Paper Tigers
Laura Gottlieb, MD, MPH: Center for Health and Community at UCSF
Johannes Haushofer: Postdoctorate at MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab
Teri Barila and Mark Brown: Children’s Resilience Initiative

By: Lydia Marks

The Hive 2014: The next 10 startups announced

How will having access to data, counsel, diagnostic tools and even providers in our own homes and via smartphones change how we experience healthcare? The ten Hive 2014 entrepreneurs we’re announcing this week showcase some thoughtful and smart uses of cloud and web-based tech to improve the health of humanity.  Read all about them below and on

Edison Nation Medical

Edison Nation Medical innovation headquarters helps to commercialize qualified healthcare portal and medical device product ideas for faster progress in health.

Graphium Health

Graphium Health uses cloud computing and mobile tech to help physicians, administrators and patients make better pre- and post-surgery decisions.

Integrated Plasmonics

Integrated Plasmonics creates home-based diagnostic tools and apps to help patients better manage and improve chronic diseases from home.


Medlio provides a virtual insurance card, giving patients a place to track data and to get transparent cost information to help connect with the right providers.


Moov helps people maximize exercise with a first-of-its-kind wearable device that can track movements in 3D space and make real-time recommendations.


Opternative is the world’s first online eye exam that can deliver a prescription, signed by an ophthalmologist, for glasses and contact lenses.

Optimized Care Network

The Optimized Care Network, or OCN, leverages a virtual healthcare delivery model to improve healthcare accessibility and experience for both providers and their patients.


Phobious is a mobile technology with a hyper-realistic virtual environment that aims to treat anxiety related disorders more quickly with systematic desensitization.


SunSprite, the first wearable light tracker, tracks personal bright light and UV exposure so users can get enough light to be healthy while avoiding harmful rays.


Validic is a platform connecting patients and providers with convenient, easy access to digital health data from a litany of devices, including healthcare apps,  wearables, biometric devices, and fitness equipment. 

Plus, don’t miss this week’s Hive curator interview on the TEDMED blog: Michael Blum, Associate Vice Chancellor for Informatics, a Professor of Medicine in Cardiology, and Chief Medical Information Officer at the University of California, San Francisco, talks about how we must and can provide clinical validation for wellness assessment devices. Read more here.

TEDMED 2014 Program Announced: Speakers & Session Themes

unnamed-1It’s official – today TEDMED is sharing the first release of speakers who will take the stage during our first-ever, bi-coastal gathering. This unified program will take place simultaneously in San Francisco, CA and Washington, DC from Sept. 10-12.

Our speakers will appear in 9 sessions over the three days, each with its own individual theme. Our team has carefully selected each speaker and session theme to reflect the overarching message of TEDMED 2014: “Unlocking Imagination in Service of Health and Medicine.”

As you may have noticed, we’re pretty big on imagination around here. Our Chairman Jay Walker explained why.

“We at TEDMED believe the world urgently needs to transform its current trajectory, where our rapidly aging global population is colliding with skyrocketing rates of disease,” said Jay. “To create a better tomorrow in health and medicine for our planet’s seven billion people will require a multi-disciplinary approach, intellectual openness and above all, imagination.”

“Scientific rigor and evidence-based standards produce the raw material for discovery, breakthroughs and progress,” Jay said. “After that, it is imagination – the courage to ask big questions, and the willingness to dream of possibilities that never existed before – that will enable us to conceive the new solutions, embrace new thinking and implement the new approaches we need.”

“Accordingly, TEDMED is focused on ‘unlocking imagination’ because, quite simply, imagination is the turbocharger for everything else,” he said.

We’re very excited about the speakers who will help us “unlock imagination” at TEDMED 2014. They include some of the most respected names in science, journalism, education, business and technology. On the TEDMED stage they will tackle some of the most controversial issues in American life and health – explore amazing new scientific insights and medical approaches – demonstrate impressive new technology – wrestle with some of the toughest conundrums in health and medicine – and explore some of the most awe-inspiring phenomenon in both human nature and the natural environment, as well as the cross-influences of the two.

TEDMED has some additional exciting news today.

In collaboration with Imagine Science Films, we are releasing nine short avant-garde films inspired by the themes of the nine stage sessions at TEDMED’s September gathering.

“The creation of this ambitious film program reflects TEDMED’s tradition of emphasizing the complementary nature of science and art,” said TEDMED Partner and COO/CMO Shirley Bergin. “The scientific worldview and the aesthetic perspective can each open an invaluable window on the other.”

Our Director of Stage Content Nassim Assefi added: “These thought-provoking films, like the presence of artists and performers in every session of our stage program, are designed both to communicate science to the public, and to inspire the scientific imagination of the TEDMED community.”

TEDMED 2014’s integrated stage program will be organized around the identical nine session themes in both venues: the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, CA and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. These themes and speakers within each include:

“Turn It Upside Down.” We’ll explore surprising insights that flip beliefs, question standard operating procedures, discard some closely held assumptions and lead to fresh insights about health and medicine.

“We Just Don’t Know.” Presenters will highlight the liberation that can take place when we recognize the limits of our knowledge – those transformational moments when we realize that the more we know, the more we realize how little we know.

“Flat Out Amazing.” This session focuses on imagination at the far edge of possibility, featuring stories of the seemingly impossible acts, facts or events that should inspire and dazzle even the most cynical or sophisticated listener.

“Stealing Smart.” Some of the best solutions to problems in health and medicine come from other worlds than the domain where the problem originated or is usually addressed.

“Don’t You Dare Talk About This.” Our speakers will ask difficult questions and boldly tackle controversial issues in health and medicine that many people are reluctant to discuss publicly, or even acknowledge as problems.

“Play Is Not a Waste of Time.” We’ll reveal the many ways that imagination rewards us, specifically how health and medicine are enhanced through the extraordinary power of play.

“Human Nature Inside and Out.” Speakers will share new views and unusual perspectives that reveal who we are as human beings and the impact of our environment on our health.

“Weird and Wonderful.” A joyful survey of surprising combinations and remarkable results. Speakers will discuss science and health trends that came out of left field, defied expectations or simply seemed completely off the wall — in a good way.

“I Was Just Thinking Too Small.” Sometimes we need encouragement to step back and see the full picture, realizing that a narrow focus can be as limiting as it is productive.

This promises to be the most exciting TEDMED gathering yet. Get ready to unlock your imagination! And stay tuned as we make additional speaker announcements and share further event details in the coming weeks.