TEDMED Day Two: Cookie goes green; gamers do serious science; and a peek inside the FDA

Graphic by Alphachimp Studio Inc.

Highlights from another jam-packed TEDMED day. Kicking things off in a most unusual fashion, NIH director Francis Collins jammed with singer Jill Sobule in an original song

Sam Berns and Francis Collins

called “Disease Don’t Care.” Perhaps an iTunes best-seller some day? He gave proof of the song title by chatting with a 15-year-old progeria patient, Sam Berns, on stage about the complexities of life with the disease.

Mars plant scientist Howard Shapiro talked about improving nutritional qualify of plant foods to help address global malnutrition issues.  On the flip side of that — calories, as we know, not always equalling nutritional quality – Judith Salerno, executive officer of the Institute of Medicine, spoke about “fat as the new normal” – and the woeful health problems that creates.  She appeared with John Hoffman of HBO Documentary Films, who presented a sobering preview of their upcoming documentary,  Weight of the Nation.

A serious issue for sure, but over-medicalization in other areas is rampant and slightly ridiculous, according to Ivan Oransky, executive editor of Reuters Health. Pre-diabetes — yes; attend; pre-cancer, maybe; pre-acne — c’mon.  After all, he pointed all, we’re all pre-death.  Should we spend every moment worrying?

Ultramarathoner Scott Jurek, a vegan like Shapiro, talked about how his mother’s MS inspired him to care for his own health in a big way, and convinced Cookie Monster, who claimed to have similar aspirations, that eating cookies won’t take you far.

The CDC’s Thomas Frieden pointed out the importance of a feedback loop in measuring the success of public health programs. Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s take on the talk.

Epidemiologist and Skoll Global Threats Fund CEO Larry Brilliant sat down for a Q&A with Peggy Hamburg of the FDA. One hot topic: Is the U.S. behind in terms of speed to market of new drugs and devices?

Elizabeth Bonker and Virginia Breen

Seth Cooper of the center for game science at the University of Washington talked about how Foldit, an open-access protein-folding game, reaps the benefits of specialized groupthink. Within weeks, gamers had replicated a protein that researchers had been trying to build for months. Read more on ABCNEWS.com.

David Icke of mc10 offered an intriguing glimpse into paper-thin wearable medtech for both out- and inside of the body, and Virginia Breen had many in the audience in tears as she spoke of the struggles of her daughter, Elizabeth Bonker, to communicate despite being hampered by autism. Elizabeth found a way; she’s a published poet and the mother and daughter together wrote a book, I Am in Here, about their journey.

Blogroll: Medgadget gives a comprehensive play-by-play recap. Med student Ilana Yurkiewicz expounded on Bryan Stevenson’s talk about the importance of shaping, and communicating, identities as people, patients and doctors.  Time.com’s Maia Szalavitz was also inspired by Stevenson’s talk to ruminate on how self-identity can affect personal health.

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