TEDMED Partner spaces: The cocoa bean genome, insta-aging, and KittenScanners

One of the biggest draws at TEDMED is checking out sponsor and contributor social spaces, fantastical interactive displays that showcase their corporate contributions to health and medicine.

Best known for its chocolate and pet food, the global food company Mars has thrown itself behind understanding genomics and the role that it can play as a solution to fighting food scarcity, chronic hunger and malnutrition (Global Staff Officer of Plant Science and External Research Howard Shapiro will speak at TEDMED Session 2 on Wednesday morning.).  Another goal is to map the cocoa bean genome – all the better, we say; bring on the chocolate!

Another booth angle is pet-human interaction and how it boosts emotional well-being – at least as far as humans go – a hot research top lately. Sergeant Jon Gordon, a war veteran and his service dog will be meeting delegates in the space to show first-hand the rehabilitative impact of human-animal interaction.

Nurture by Steelcase designed their space to create conversation on smart design for

Nurture's new patient recliner, Empath

special needs. Delegates will gather around “campfire” space to chat with IDEO design consultant reps.

They’ll also get an eye-opening chance to see for themselves the unique design needs posed by physical handicaps and aging.  Participants can don a “Third Age” suit – on loan from the Ford Motor Company – that “ages” them several decades in terms of strength, mobility, vision and other tactile functions. The space-age suit, which looks like a stripped-down astronaut uniform, is made of materials that add bulk and restrict movement at key areas of the body such as knees, elbows, back and neck. The suit also uses gloves that reduce the sense of touch, and goggles that simulate cataracts.

Philips is exploring the issue of lack of sleep as a national health crisis in its onsite design lab. An illustrator will visualize Delegate discussion on the topic as the days go by into a wall-length mural.

Towards its goal of “designing healthcare around people who need it,” the company is exhibiting a colorful KittenScanner for kids to show them what to expect when getting a CT scan  – an unnerving experience even for adults – to lessen the stress of the experience. Their illuminated LightGuide therapeutic tool helps visually- and hearing-impaired children improve motor activities and develop the ability to read and write.

Backstage at TEDMED

Some 1,500 Delegates are streaming into the Opera House at the Kennedy Center, munching on mango and drinking sangria as they await the start of the first speaker session at TEDMED 2012.  Of course, healthy pursuits are never far away; Delegates could also have their carotid artery scanned for signs of arterial plaque at Panasonic’s CardioHealth station in the lounge, or have a blood test for inflammatory markers of heart disease with the Cleveland HeartLab’s new “it” screen.

Hair and makeup for Jill Sobule backstage at the Kennedy Center.

We had a sneak peek at the humongous backstage area, where the singer and songwriter Jill Sobule

Jil Sobule, Ivan Oransky, and Jill's mom, who sometimes joins her on stage
graciously allowed us to snap a few photos. Reuters Health executive editor Ivan Oransky, speaking at Session 3 on Wednesday, also prepped for his talk, “Is the ‘disease model’ sick — or just exhausted?”

Let’s start the show!

D.C. schoolkids to attend TEDMED

Part of TEDMED’s mission is to share ideas among as many people as possible – particularly when it comes to nurturing young people’s imaginations. To that end, TEDMED has invited 25 local high school students, along with their principal, to be special guests at TEDMED’s final session on Friday morning.

The Academies at Anacostia – also known as Anacostia Senior High School – is a D.C. public high school looking to turn around decades of extremely low test scores.  Towards that goal, school officials partnered with Friendship Public Charter Schools and closed it for a summer-long revamp, after which Anacostia re-opened in 2009 with  a renewed mission, more than 30 first-year teachers, and many new programs.

The special student guests on Friday were chosen for their accomplishments.  The group includes:

*Seven students training to be EMT’s in Anacostia’s Allied Health career program

*One student who is a member of the local Red Cross Club

*Anacostia’s FIRST Robotics team, AnaDroidz, which recently competed against 64 other teams from 10 states and Puerto Rico in the D.C. regional competition

*Other students nominated by their teachers because of their excellent grades, behavior, maturity, and interest in learning.

Congratulations to the Anacostia students.  We’ll see you Friday at TEDMED!

Jay Walker’s Library of Human Imagination

The Library of Human Imagination

Fun Friday brain fodder:  TEDMED’s curator, Jay Walker, talks to Discovery.com in the  “Curiosity” video series about the origins of his fantastical collection of some of mankind’s greatest innovations, the Library of Human Imagination.  The Library celebrates humanity’s grand adventure of discovery, learning, and creativity, with objects from an original 1957 Sputnik to a 1699 atlas containing the first maps to show the sun, not the earth, as the center of the known universe.  “This map, by far the most important map in history, divides the Age of Faith from the Age of Reason,” Jay says.

Michael Graves: When will hospitals design for patients?

Architect Michael Graves spent months in a rehab center following a serious illness, only to discover that the design of his room and furniture — and that of most hospitals — fails to meet even basic needs of patients and staff, especially those who are disabled. See what he has designed instead for the hospital of the future.