XX at TEDMED: Women take center stage

By Shirley Bergin

As part of Rock Health’s XX in Health week last year, I talked about the need for women mentors in health and why TEDMED was making an effort to include more women in our stage program. Our mission is to gather diverse points of view for a richer collaboration on progress in health and medicine, and that simply can’t be achieved without ensuring that women have a role.

The results: TEDMED 2013 brought more female speakers to the stage than ever before. We again had the opportunity to engage with a number of remarkable women. Throughout the years, we’ve been thrilled to introduce these collaborative, provocative thinkers whose energy and influence help shape thinking in health and medicine.

Women have represented incredibly varied facets of health and medicine at TEDMED. There’s public health, from Regina Benjamin speaking about broad-scale goals and community initiatives from America Bracho, to Rebecca Onie working to link patients to health basics like sound shelter and nutrition. Scientists Sheila Nirenberg and Frances Arnold have made great leaps into hitherto worlds of neuroscience and synthetic biology; Leslie Saxon and Deborah Estrin are superstars in health monitoring and technology; Catherine Mohr and Quyen Nguyen have blazed new trails in surgery; Sally Okun brought a nurse’s perspective to decoding the language of patients; and Amy Abernethy provided an oncologist’s understanding of their wishes. Susan Desmond-Hellmann is at the forefront of gathering genomics data for a potential revolution in disease diagnosis and treatment. Laura Deming and Jessica Richman represent a new wave of business-savvy innovators bringing change to health research.

women at TEDMED

Four more dynamic women shared their experiences in a special Session X at TEDMED 2013: Nina Nashif of Healthbox spoke of trajectories in the health startup space while Jennifer Kurkoski of Google, Marleece Barber from Lockheed Martin, and Geeta Nayyar from AT&T represented companies outside of healthcare whose innovation around health and medicine was inspiring.

Virginia Breen, Elizabeth Bonker and Diana Nyad shared their stories of triumph over seemingly unconquerable obstacles. Female artists have enlightened us as well with their unique and often startling viewpoints on health and the human body – view Sue Austin’s inspiring mental freewheeling, Lisa Nilsson‘s stunning anatomical paper sculptures, and soprano Charity Tillemann-Dick‘s joy in singing and living.

We were fortunate to have 50 transformative new companies and the entrepreneurs that power them as part of The Hive at TEDMED 2013. This initiative helped to  ensure that the start-up and entrepreneur community along with our partners connected in ways that truly inspired progress. Women lead nearly half. They include:

  • Anula Jayasuriya and Surbhi Sarna of nVision, a medical device company dedicated to filling the void in female health-related innovation;
  • Eve Phillips of Empower Interactive, which designs interactive e-learning programs using evidence-based psychotherapy;
  • Tiffany Wilson Karp of The Global Center for Medical Innovation, a not-for-profit organization that launched the Southeast’s first comprehensive medical device innovation center;
  • Qian Qian Tang of Kinsa, which creates unique mobile software and hardware products that help create a real-time map of human health;
  • Caterina Hill of Wellframe, focused on building the next generation of infrastructure for healthcare delivery using artificial intelligence;
  • Lisa Maki of PokitDoc, a health marketplace of over 3 million healthcare providers nationwide;
  • Sruthi Sadhujan and Cynthia Koenig of WelloWater, which seeks to help deliver clean water to an increasingly thirsty world;

and many more.

We’ll continue to recognize the immense contributions from women in health at TEDMED, and we would love to hear from you as we move forward. Please share your thoughts and suggestions below, and join our conversations on Twitter and Facebook.

Shirley Bergin is TEDMED’s Chief Operating Officer.

Can med students learn better with Osmosis?

With more physicians taking advantage of the efficiency and accuracy promised by mobile health devices, another flourishing sector in health tech developments aims to improve knowledge and tech adaptability earlier in the health care cycle: mobile tech for med students.

An Osmosis screen shot.
An Osmosis screen shot.

Osmosis is a recently approved iOS app and web platform for med students and schools founded by Ryan Haynes, a Johns Hopkins med student with a PhD in neuroscience from Cambridge, and Shiv Gaglani, also a Johns Hopkins med student, who developed the Smartphone Physical at TEDMED 2013.

The free, quiz-based app, available now, aims to help students learn and retain the voluminous information needed to pass those tricky medical boards. It combines three education concepts: quick, periodic reviews; improved absorption of material through practice questions; and social network-enabled, peer-to-peer learning. Many of its quiz questions were developed in conjunction with content providers such as the American College of Physicians.

The app tracks students’ confidence, accuracy, and elapsed time on each question and will soon publish anonymized leaderboards that allow students to see how they stack up in terms of answering questions. Some 240 invited alpha users, all medical students, contributed more than 1,500 images and videos, crowd-sourced over 5,000 practice questions, and answered those more than half-a-million times.

“Now that we have 6,000 medical students from more than 250 institutions signed up, we anticipate delivering millions of practice questions to our future doctors, keeping them up-to-date on their medical knowledge. This is something I feel strongly about as a medical student who experienced significant cram-forget cycles that don’t lead to long-term retention,” says Gaglani, who is also a Harvard MBA candidate and an editor at Medgadget.com. “That’s why we designed Osmosis: to flatten the forgetting curve and help medical students learn fundamental medical knowledge to help improve patient outcomes.”

“We’ve received an overwhelmingly positive response to the mobile app. Within one week we became one of the top 100 free educational apps on the iTunes store. Around 1,500 medical students have already downloaded it and collectively answered close to 30,000 questions,” he says.

The web platform, currently in beta and with a public launch planned this fall, has been live since 2012 both at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine in Malaysia, Haynes says. The web platform has added gamification features, including contributor leaderboards. Osmosis will offer institutional subscribers a tiered fee schedule, from free to $2 per user, per month, which includes features like open-lecture videos, resources to take and store notes and course documents, and usage analytics.

Q: What if we treat violence like an epidemic disease? A: We could put violence into the past!

By Gary Slutkin, M.D.

What if we, as public health professionals, approached violence as a public health problem in a serious way? What if we, as public health professionals, approached violence as a problem that we can treat with health interventions and prevent using science based solutions?

I asked myself those questions when we launched the Cure Violence model of violence reduction 15 years ago. Following more than 10 years of fighting health epidemics in Africa and Asia, I returned to the United States and began to notice parallels between the trajectory of violence plaguing U.S. cities and the trajectory of diseases plaguing the communities in which I previously worked abroad. You see, a cholera outbreak in Somalia shows the same epidemiological curve as the 1994 mass killings in Rwanda; killings in US cities, which appear as a wave sitting on top of a wave, resemble outbreaks of tuberculosis in Europe centuries ago.

Violence has the characteristics of an infectious disease in how it is transmitted from person-to-person and how it is spread neighborhood-to-neighborhood and community-by-community. Thus, we must physically interrupt violence before it takes hold of the minds and bodies of those affected by it, and also change thinking and attitudes to prevent the cycle of violence from repeating itself before the behaviors that trigger violence become cultural norms.

I came to realize that the issue of violence had been fundamentally misdiagnosed –having been seen as a moralistic issue with reduction strategies applied based upon totally outdated thinking. We had simply not taken into account how violence really behaves—as a contagious, or epidemic process, or disease. So, even those of us in the public health community who referred to violence  as a public health problem, had not yet applied specific epidemic control techniques.

Cure Violence now approaches violence in an entirely new way–we approach it like a disease. The Cure Violence model uses the same science-based strategies being used globally to fight other epidemic diseases. We train carefully selected members of the community — disease control workers who are trusted insiders — to anticipate where violence may occur and to intervene before it erupts—just like you might use health workers to find early cases of tuberculosis, SARS, or even bird flu. Other very highly trained health or epidemic control workers take on the specific tasks of behavior change, and changing norms. Transmission is averted and spread limited.

Street outreach workers/violence interrupters in action in Chicago. Photo: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Street outreach workers/violence interrupters in action in Chicago. Photo: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

As it turns out, this approach, the epidemic control model, works. The Cure Violence method, our first application of this thinking, has now been statistically validated to reduce shootings, killings or both by 30 to 70 percent by three independent evaluations directed by the Department of Justice and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in three major U.S. cities—Chicago, Baltimore and New York. This model is being replicated in more than 50 sites across the US and in 15 cities, and is being applied in seven other countries, with early results also showing great promise.

When we recognize violence as an epidemic disease it empowers us to treat and prevent it with  specific epidemic control methods. Doing this makes it possible for us to be much more effective in reducing the epidemic of violence. Like violence, prior epidemics from leprosy to typhus to plague, were treated moralistically for centuries. However, when their epidemic and contagious nature became identified and the strategies revised to conform to science, we were able to move these diseases into the past.

It is now up to us in the public health fields to do the same with violence.  It is time for health professionals, health departments, and hospitals to step up and work together with this and other epidemic control strategies to put violence into the past.

TEDMED 2013 speaker Dr. Gary Slutkin is an epidemiologist and the Founder/ Executive Director of Cure Violence, formerly known as CeaseFire.

What’s the really big news about pregnancy and birth?

It’s rare that any birth holds so much of the world’s attention as one did this week. Media attention was so frenzied, in fact, that some of its members began to spoof each other: “Woman has baby!” said the cover of one London tabloid. Was this birth really so incredible?

Well, yes, it is. So is any birth, for that matter, from a scientific standpoint. A typical baby has 60,000 miles of blood vessels by the time of birth. How does this intricate development unfold over a course of mere months? How does a woman’s body support this human engineering marvel?

Seeing it happen with the naked eye brings home how marvelous the process really is. TEDMED 2011 speaker Alexander Tsiaras, Founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of TheVisualMD.com and a journalist, artist and technologist, has compiled a timeline of conception and pregnancy from scans and computer-generated images. As Tsiaras wrote on The Huffington Post, his own son was in utero as he collected and reviewed scans of fetal development, which added a new dimension of meaning to his work.

““Even though I am a mathematician, I look at [fetal development] with marvel: How do these instruction sets not make mistakes as they build what is us?” he said of the project. See the astonishing images below he presented at TED. (Includes graphic content.)

The intricate system does break down occasionally, however, with consequences that are devastating. As the World Health Organization reports, some 800 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth — 99 percent of them in a developing country. Even in the U.S., one in nine babies is born pre-term, which leads to a higher risk of disability or death.

Michael Rosenblatt told the audience at TEDMED 2011 about the devastating effects of maternal mortality, which can last for generations.

There are collaborative efforts at work by governments, international development agencies and non-profits at work, however, that have made progress in reducing maternal deaths by interventions such as improving access to skilled birthing assistance, providing post-natal care for women and newborns and treating infections. Some 30 countries managed to cut their rate of maternal death in half between 1990 and 2010 — a feat also worthy of headlines.



NYC doctors can now prescribe fruits and vegetables

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but she won’t mind – she might even write a prescription for it.

As reported by the New York Daily News, Two New York City hospitals, Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx and Harlem Hospital in Upper Manhattan, are launching what’s called The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx). It aims to help overweight children and their families access fresh fruits and vegetables to counter obesity and related diseases.


FVRx works like this:  Doctors and nutritionists assess a patient’s eating habits and prescribe produce as needed. Kids and their parents are given “Health Bucks” to use to purchase produce.

“A food environment full of processed foods full of fat, sugar and salt is contributing to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other chronic diseases,” said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, in a press release. “The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program is a creative approach that, with the inclusion of Health Bucks, will enable at-risk patients to visit any of our 142 Farmers Markets and purchase the fruits and vegetables that will help them stay healthy.”

The program is coordinated by Wholesome Wave, a non-profit based in Bridgeport, CT, that aims to seeks to provide locally-sourced whole foods to underserved communities. The organization has programs in 28 states and the District of Columbia with more than 60 partners implementing subsidy and incentive programs for businesses and consumers.  A similar program started in 2010 in Massachusetts has reportedly met with success.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also has had a Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program for women, infants and children since 1992.

As Rebecca Onie of Health Leads pointed out in her TEDMED 2012 talk, it’s difficult for families facing hardships to have the basic resources necessary to heal from illness or even to maintain wellness. Health Leads works to connect patients in need with appropriate social services. Its work stems from a growing awareness of the major role social determinants play in health.

On Thursday, September 19th, TEDMED will host a Google Hangout related to the issue of consumer behavior and food purchases. Stay tuned for more information on when to tune in, and visit TEDMED.com to learn more about the Great Challenge of coming to terms with our national obesity crisis.

What happens when the lab lights go out?

By Alyssa Picchini Schaffer

Remember the panic about the sequester in early 2013?  All of the doomsday predictions about how detrimental the automatic, across-the-board budget cuts would be to all facets of American life? Since National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collin’s call to Tweet about how the sequester is affecting biomedical research, many scientists have been weighing in about its future impact:

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 9.02.18 AM

Despite the apocalyptic hyperbole, the sequester’s overall impact on the US economy has been relatively small and diffuse since the cuts began on March 1, 2013.  However, we haven’t seen the worst of it; the biggest cuts  took effect just last week.  As an experimental scientist by training, I worry – often in the wee hours – about how these cuts will affect biomedical research. Because as this next phase of austerity nears, the future of biomedical research funding looks bleaker than it has in decades. This bleakness is not just about the amount of funding available, but also about how the funds are distributed across the biomedical research spectrum.

According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), government-wide funding for research and development will decrease by a net $9.3 billon thanks to the sequestration. Some $1.5 billion of that will be slashed from the annual NIH budget, which has already declined by 22% in constant dollars since 2003. This means that this coming year the NIH will fund approximately 700 fewer biomedical research grants, admit 750 fewer patients to its clinical center in Bethesda, MD, and decrease funding already promised to current grantees by about 10%.

Additionally, $227 million will be taken from the already miniscule budget of the National Science Foundation (NSF), our nation’s major funder of basic biological research.  I think very few will disagree that these budget cuts will delay progress in biomedical research.

But by how much?

I doubt anyone knows. However, a trend that is already occurring in funding of biomedical research is likely to be intensified due to further restriction of funds – a focus on directly clinically-related research at the expense of basic science.  Meaning that projects with a direct connection to a disease are more likely to be funded than projects that focus on understanding basic biological processes.

Scientists, policy makers, tax payers, and grant providers are all looking for the same things – cures, breakthroughs, big jumps forward in our understanding and treatment of disease that will improve life quality and decrease suffering.  But focusing research dollars solely on clinically focused research will only delay advancement further rather than expedite it.

Here’s why: The solution to clinical problems is built on the knowledge and insight collected through basic research.  Sure, basic research most often moves forward in small steps.  Yet these incremental advances lead to an essential accumulation of knowledge.  True cures – cessation and/or reversal of disease processes, not just management of symptoms — can only come after thorough and full understanding of the biological processes underlying a disease.  If we don’t first understand what ‘goes right’ when someone is healthy, how can we correct things that go wrong during disease?

Furthermore, serendipitous discoveries in basic research have lead to some of the biggest clinical breakthroughs in history.  For example, the discovery of the first antibiotic, penicillin, came directly out of an accident of basic research.  In 1928, Sir Alexander Fleming was investigating properties of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and noticed that a fungus that killed the bacteria in close proximity contaminated one of his cultures.  This fungus, Penicillium notatum, was found to secrete the antibiotic compound penicillian, which kills bacteria by breaking down their cell walls as they grow and divide.

Another example: Researchers funded to understand the basic process of how the brain interprets smells discovered a technique, designed only to further their research, that enabled the entire biotechnology industry.  In the late 1970’s, Richard Axel and his colleagues figured out a technique to modify genes, and then stably transfer those genes and express them in live cells.  This process, called transfection, has propelled countless cures and treatments.

These are just two of the many discoveries made in the course of basic scientific research that drastically changed clinical treatment. We need multidisciplinary thinking, collaboration – and funding – to succeed in any endeavor, especially when it comes to tackling our biggest questions in science and medicine.  All research has a part to play in advancing our health.

Alyssa Picchini Schaffer, PhD, who handles research that informs the editorial process at TEDMED, has studied the biological basis of psychiatric disease. Follow her @AlyssaPSchaffer.

Three-time TEDMED speaker David Agus headlines Israeli Presidential Conference

By Marcus Webb

TEDMED’s Chief Storyteller, Webb reports from Jerusalem, where he is attending The Israeli Presidential Conference along with a number of TEDMED community members.

TEDMED 2011 and 2013 speaker Dr. David Agus is a prominent speaker this week at the semi-annual Israeli Presidential Conference, taking place at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, David addressed the 5,000 registered attendees at the June 19-20 event, offering an upbeat view of the future of health and medicine in the mid-day general session.

Commenting on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that placed limits on what can be patented, David said:  “The U.S. Supreme Court has democratized our DNA and allowed all of us to use it. This will herald a democratized approach to medicine.”

David added that he is an optimist about the future of health, saying that new technology and a new culture of patient activism will drive improvements.

“Your body talks to you all the time,” he said.  Pointing to a series of new diagnostic tools that are advanced yet affordable, he added:  “We now have the ability to listen.”

In a separate breakout session, David predicted that medical intervention – designed uniquely for each patient, based on family history and on personalized diagnostic data — will replace today’s “one size fits all” prescriptions.

“[Diagnostic] medicine is [still largely] an art today,” he added.  “The hope is, through technology, we’re going to make it a science.”

David’s next book, “A Short Guide to a Long Life,” is due for publication in January 2014.

A two-time TEDMED speaker, Dr. Larry Brilliant, will address the Presidential Conference on its closing day.

Also present at the Presidential Conference this week are TEDMED 2013 speaker, United Hatzalah founder/president Eli Beer; and TEDMED Chief Storytelling Officer Marcus Webb.

Convened by Israel’s president Shimon Peres, the June 19-20 Presidential Conference is a TEDMED-like gathering featuring multi-disciplinary perspectives on tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities.

Headliners – to name just a few — include leaders from:

  • Government (Mr. Peres; Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu; former president Bill Clinton; former PM Tony Blair; Prince Albert of Monaco);
  • Technology (Microsoft international research head Dr. Jeanette Wing);
  • Economics (Larry Summer; Martin Wolf);
  • Science (Harvard psychologist Dr. Dan Gilbert; Dr. Leroy Hood, founder, Institute for Systems Biology);
  • Business (Cisco CEO John Chambers);
  • Nonprofits (Natan Scharansky, head of the Jewish Agency for Israel);
  • Education (Hebrew University president Menahem Ben Sasson; Teach for All founder Wendy Kopp);
  • Energy (Prof. Brenda Shaffer);
  • Armed services leaders (first-ever female Major General in the IDF Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai);
  • Clergy (Reform Judaism president Rabbi Rick Jacobs);
  • Social activists (Ms. Ayaan Hirsi-Ali, author of “Infidel”);
  • Historians (Dr. Edward Luttwak);
  • Media (Maurice Levy, CEO of Publicis Groupe);
  • And the arts (Barbara Streisand, Robert DeNiro, Sharon Stone).

A highlight of the Conference’s first session on Wednesday was the presentation of the President’s Award, Israel’s highest civilian honor, by Mr. Peres to former president Clinton, who was lauded as a strong friend of the Jewish state.

At least two prominent TED presenters also have high-profile roles at the Presidential Conference this week, including behavioral economist Dan Ariely, author of “Predictably Irrational,” and Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera.

Mr. Peres, who launched these Presidential Conferences in 2008, offered his own thoughts on leadership throughout the morning’s first session.

“The real power of our time is not [coercive] power but the strength of goodwill,” he said.  “You would be surprised by the people who don’t like laws, how fast they move to volunteer.”

For this reason, suggested Mr. Peres, as well as due to the deep uncertainty in so many fields regarding the right directions and policies, today’s most effective leadership proceeds from consensus.

“Leaders today should not lead [in any dictatorial sense],” he stated.  “They should agree to be led by the people.”

What do we really know about nutrition and obesity? Peter Attia answers your questions on Facebook

Join TEDMED Speaker Peter Attia, MD, for a Facebook Chat on Nutrition & Obesity on Thursday, 6/20 at 2pm ET

Can we trust anything we think we know about nutrition?  What do we really know so far about how our food intake and our weight gain? Why are we working harder than ever to eat well and be healthy, with no reductions in obesity and with diabetes rates skyrocketing? Could it be that official dietary guidelines are based on science that’s not rigorous enough to draw real conclusions?

Peter Attia at TEDMED 2013 Photo: Jerod Harris
Peter Attia at TEDMED 2013 Photo: Jerod Harris

TEDMED 2013 speaker Peter Attia, a physician and former McKinsey & Company consultant,  started a new organization, Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI) to thoroughly investigate these questions and more, along with journalist Gary Taubes, author of “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and “Why We Get Fat.”


This Thursday, June 20th at 2pm ET, Peter will answer questions about NuSI’s work to date, and what he sees as the best way to understand and combat obesity. Join us to discuss his contrarian and potentially revolutionary approach. Check out the Facebook event page for details and to RSVP.

Why American workplaces are waking up to the importance of sleep

By Arianna Huffington

People in every age think they’re living in a time of transition (I’m sure Adam turned to Eve and said, “Darling, I think we’re living in a time of transition”), but some ages really do usher in broad and deep change. Right now in American workplaces, I believe we’re experiencing a transition with regard to well-being. An increasing number of employers and employees alike are acknowledging that the current model of success isn’t working, and is in fact leading to burnout, stress, decreased productivity, and — an epidemic with especially personal resonance to me — sleep-deprivation.

Often, when I speak in public, my first mention of sleep elicits a bit of a laugh. But it’s a knowing one, because all of us recognize on some level how sleep underpins our ability to function. And how does it in turn affect our organizations? Let me count the ways. Fatigue is the enemy of creativity and memory. It costs American businesses $63 billion a year in lost productivity. One study found that, because of its effects on decision-making and cognitive function, sleep-deprivation opens the door to unethical behavior. Another study found that sleep-deprivation is noticeably reflected in facial cues, enough so that other people are likely to register a sleep-deprived person as lacking energy and unhealthy. (Not the best face to put forward to a customer.) The worst costs arise from the fact that sleep deprivation causes safety lapses and contributes to other health issues. (For instance, the World Health Organization classifies shift work as a Class 2A carcinogen, due to the rates of breast cancer among women shift workers.)


Fortunately, many employers, in every industry imaginable, are learning to appreciate that the health of employees is directly connected to the health of the bottom line, and making concrete changes. At the Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine’s Corporate Leadership Summit last month, Attacking the Sleep Conspiracy, companies like Walmart, Procter & Gamble, and Eli Lilly came together to discuss how businesses can partner with sleep experts and organizations to meet the health challenges associated with sleep problems.

Perhaps they are taking a cue from the world of sports. Olympians now get state-of-the-art nap rooms in addition to their highly monitored diets. In the NBA, stars like Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant have led the way, making pre-game naps part of their warm-up routine. Now, the NBA’s deputy commissioner says, “Everyone in the league office knows not to call players at 3 pm. It’s the player nap.”

More conventional workplaces are catching up. Twenty-five percent of large U.S. businesses offer employees some kind of stress reduction initiative, like meditation or yoga. At The Huffington Post’s office in New York, we’ve installed two nap rooms. At the beginning, our reporters, editors, and engineers were reluctant to use them, afraid that people might think they were shirking their duties. But it’s a sign of our time of transition that, these days, our nap rooms are always booked. We have to change workplace culture so that what’s stigmatized is not napping but walking around drained and exhausted.

As we approach a critical mass of awareness of the importance of sleep, we’re also learning that some of our most admired historical figures have been in on the secret for a long time. So along the way to taking on the biggest challenges and seizing the greatest opportunities, let’s hope the next generation of leaders will note the performance advantage enjoyed by some of history’s famous nappers — from Leonardo DaVinci to Winston Churchill to John F. Kennedy.

Times of major transition are often precipitated by “perfect storms” combining powerful forces. Behind American’s growing concern with well-being are at least three elements: a dysfunctional health care system, an abundance of new technology, and a new ability and desire to monitor and take control of one’s own health. As this perfect storm hits the American workplace, and the movement responding to it takes hold, expect great change to happen.

Arianna Huffington is the chair, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, a nationally syndicated columnist, and author of thirteen books. She is a member of The Executive Council of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

This post is reprinted with permission from The Harvard Business Review Blog Network.

What else can employers and communities do to address the causes of sleep deprivation?  Share your thoughts on this Great Challenge.


Newsmakers of the Week: A new tally of global health; a doc rapper goes viral, and a magician’s secret

If  a media time grab could give a snapshot of the unique and varied personalities that comprise the TEDMED community, these past couple of weeks might suffice.

Ankita Rao of Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with USAToday, profiled physician/rapper/community healthcare innovator Zubin Damania, who spoke this April, about his often, um, “indelicate” viral videos that poke fun at pop culture while at the same time delivering valuable PSAs on health, or offering acerbic commentary on the state of healthcare. His wit has a serious side, though:

Damania delivered a talk at the 2013 TEDMED conference in Washington in April called “Are Zombie Doctors Taking Over America?” In it, he offered his take on the physician lifestyle right now: a hazy mix of rounds in the hospital, hours on the phone with insurance companies, tedious paperwork and getting home late, only to worry about mistakes made somewhere along the way.

“There are so many pieces, but fundamentally the human relationship is ignored in this system,” he said.

How does the world die? In a piece titled, “Life, Not Death, is Focus of New Health Metrics,” Discover magazine reported on Christopher JL Murray‘s breakthrough global health data measuring system and it’s surprising revelations about how disease risk factors vary according to where and how we live, and new definitions of infirmity and wellness. As Jeremy Smith wrote:

Around the world, for example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claimed roughly twice the number of lives as HIV/AIDS in 2010, but HIV/AIDS was much more fatal to young people, and therefore appears higher in the DALY ranking. Likewise, as risk factors, not eating enough fruit out-rivals illicit drug use. For years, experts have said that most of the world’s major childhood diseases could be eliminated with clean water. What global burden suggests is that while lack of access to water and sanitation is a concern, five times worse for the world is indoor smoke from cookstoves, a major contributor to respiratory illnesses, communicable diseases, cardiovascular problems and cancers.

Watch Murray discuss and see more examples from his TEDMED talk:

Another maverick, TEDMED 2013 speaker Sandeep Kishore, appeared in the pages of Weill Cornell Medicine magazine in a piece by Beth Saulnier, titled, “The Doer,” about Kishore’s global health activism. He’s the founder of The Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network, a group promoting research, policy and advocacy work targeting NCDs; has worked on a half-dozen submissions to the WHO; serves on the board of the NGO Universities Allied for Essential Medicines; has won a Howard Hughes Fellowship — and he’s still in med school.

And TEDMED Managing Editor Lisa Shufro offered a peek behind our stage curtains in the Huffington Post, profiling David Blaine — who gave one of TEDMED’s most watched talks ever in 2009 — and what might scare him even more than repeatedly risking his life on death-defying stunts.