TEDMED 2020 Hive Innovator Happenings

There are plenty of ways to engage with our TEDMED 2020 class of Hive Innovators. Whether in a Hive Innovator Meetup, the Community Lunch, where we will have the opportunity to explore the Innovator’s “What If” questions, or through TEDMED Scout: Your AR Guide to Innovation. This year, the Hive Innovator experience is powered by our partner TBWA\WorldHealth.

Innovator Meetups

At TEDMED 2020, the Hive Innovators will participate in curated meetup discussions around a topic that aligns to their work. Innovator Meetups are open to everyone in the TEDMED Community onsite and are an exciting opportunity to learn more about the Hive Innovators and the work they do to shape a healthier humanity. This year’s Hive Innovator Meetup topics include: New Age Diagnostics, Personalizing Digital Health, New Models of Mental Health Care, Mapping Human Health, The Power of Medical Knowledge, and Health Techquity.

Community Lunch: Celebrating Innovation with the Hive Innovators and the TEDMED Community

Delegates are invited to join the Hive Innovators and the larger TEDMED Community members for a lunch inspired by innovation. Get to know the Hive Innovators by joining them for lunch at the tables marked with their “What If?” Questions.

TEDMED Scout: Your AR Guide to Innovation

Embracing this year’s theme, “Make Way for Wonder”, TEDMED joined forces with TBWA\WorldHealth to curate an experience that celebrates innovation and unlocks our sense of wonder. Throughout the event, Delegates can unlock an Augmented Reality experience, we are calling TEDMED Scout: Your AR Guide to Innovation, with their phones to get a closer look at the ideas each innovator represents. And, a virtual concierge will guide onsite networking connections between Innovators and our community like never before. After the event, the experience will live on digitally, giving anyone in the world access to the 2020 TEDMED Hive Innovators and the amazing ideas they are working to make a reality.

Register today to join us onsite in Boston and experience TEDMED 2020 in person!

Introducing The Hive 2020!

We are happy to announce the TEDMED 2020 Hive Program, which will feature inspiring entrepreneurs and their organizations.

As always, this year’s Hive class is made of Innovators representing early- to mid-stage organizations across 6 categories: 1) Life Sciences & Therapeutics 2) Med-Tech & Med-Device 3) Mobile & Digital Health 4) Health Systems, Care Delivery, and Reimbursement Models 5) Advancing Science 6) Public Health

New this year, the Innovators will be a part of an interactive onsite experience powered by TBWA\WorldHealth. Through this awe-inspiring experience that invokes wonder, Delegates have the opportunity to explore the power of asking “What if?” in fields from AI-driven mental health care, to novel drug discovery and development, to new models of human and animal genomics, and much more.

We hope you’ll join The Hive Innovators and the rest of our impressive Delegation in Boston, MA from March 2–4 for TEDMED 2020. If you have not signed up yet, register today.

This year’s Innovators were carefully selected from hundreds of organizations doing groundbreaking work in health and medicine. If you’d like to nominate an organization for next year’s Hive you can do so here.

Giving Sight to Innovation: Q&A with Uzma Samadani

Uzma Samadani is the cofounder of Oculogica, a neurodiagnostic company that, through eye movement tracking, specializes in detecting concussions and other brain injuries otherwise invisible on radiologic scans. She shared her journey of discovery on the TEDMED 2014 stage. We caught up with Uzma and learned more about her vision and methods of discovery.

Uzma Samadani at TEDMED 2014 discusses her eye tracking innovation for diagnosing brain injury.
“I hope people who hear my talk are inspired to work hard and make their own discoveries.” Uzma Samadani at TEDMED 2014. [Photo: Sandy Huffaker for TEDMED]

Who or what has been your main source of inspiration that drives you to innovate?

Necessity was the mother of invention, and serendipity the father. We sought to develop an outcome measure for a clinical trial for severely injured vegetative patients when we developed the eye-tracking algorithm that we subsequently realized could detect concussion. We had expected to use the eye-tracking algorithm to calculate how well people could pay attention and fixate their gaze, but then were surprised to find that it actually showed us what was wrong with the brain. Now that we have discovered this technology, we understand its implications: it enables us to detect previously ‘invisible’ brain injury. We are inspired, driven even, to innovate and make this technology available to everyone who has sustained trauma. We can help people who previously would not have had objective measures indicating brain injury.

Why does your talk matter now? What do you hope people learn from your talk?

My talk is not so much about brain injury directly as it is about a moment of discovery – the rare shock of finding something remarkable and considering its implications, then the doubt, and the concern about artifact. And then, the gradual realization that we have discovered something real and potentially extremely helpful for humankind. I hope people who hear my talk are inspired to work hard and make their own discoveries.

What is the legacy you want your work to leave?

Brain injury is the single greatest cause of death and disability for Americans under the age of 35 years of age. By creating a biomarker and outcome measure for injury, we can test treatments and therapies and also evaluate prophylactics such as helmets. The true measure of our success will be its utility: to other researchers, to clinicians and to the people who sustain injury.

The TEDMED Hive: Immersion Into Imagination, Innovation and Conversation

The Imagine Wall in San Francisco
The Imagine Wall in San Francisco

If the TEDMED 2014 stage is the brain imagining health, The Hive is its beating heart.

For starters, it showcases some of the smartest and potentially revolutionary ideas in health in an up-close-and-personal forum, in which start-ups can gather ideas from other Delegates and from each other.  It’s been a launchpad for a number of game-changing companies.

Ed Hamblin, Director of Sales for Sensiotec, has his vitals measured by Sensiotec’s Virtual Medical Assistant, a non-contact patient monitor.

This year, 80 entrepreneurs – 40 on each coast – have a chance to share their stories with TEDMED attendees and the world, from technologies that help kids track their blood sugar and diagnose brain injuries by tracking eye movements, to a brilliantly simple pill pack design that promotes medicine adherence and a technology application where patients can get a doctor’s house call on demand within two hours.

There’s also an opportunity to visualize progress; the Imagine Wall – seen above in its San Francisco incarnation – is a mural of Twitter responses to the question, “How would you imagine a healthier world?”

The Hive was conversation central for the Great Challenges program, a platform for discussing complex public health issues. Delegates also had a chance to talk over some of the biggest questions in health and science over at the Campfire, an intimate space that presented thought experiment questions to small groups.

The Campfire
The Campfire

Hot topics: Getting approval and a market plan for niche medical devices; the increasing dearth of primary care physicians, and what medical education should do about it, and how the world can solve the health conundrum of having undernourished populations in most of the world, and overweight, overfed people in many others.


Health Leads expands movement to place social needs at the center of preventive care

At TEDMED 2012, Rebecca Onie asked a simple question with an extremely complex answer:

Why don’t we have a health care system that keeps us healthy?

As a college sophomore, Onie realized through her work as a legal aid intern that lack of basic needs like food, heat, transportation, and health insurance were preventing people from achieving – and, more importantly, maintaining – good health. And she found that most often, doctors practiced a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy around these issues, assuming, though not without anguish, that these solutions were simply out of reach.

In 1996, Onie co-founded Health Leads, an organization that enables clinicians to “prescribe” food, heat, and other basic resources their patients need to be healthy, alongside medical care.  And what began as a student-run organization in a pediatric waiting room is now national in scale.  In 2014, nearly 1,000 student Advocates will connect over 14,000 patients and their families to the resources they need to be healthy.

In the last two years, Health Leads has received over 1,000 requests for expansion from hospitals, providers, health systems, and others looking for a way to address their patients’ non-medical needs.  On our blog in September, Onie called this demand “symbolic of a much larger shift taking place in the healthcare system.”

And this demand comes from a healthcare system ready for a change.  As Onie reported on Forbes.com after her trip to the 2014 World’s Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, the sector is finally asking not whether it is necessary to address patients’ social needs, but how to do so effectively:

This momentum extends beyond the handful of health systems whose vision and values tie explicitly to a comprehensive definition of health….Each of these signals the unprecedented moment unfolding in the U.S. healthcare system, triggered by shifting market trends and financial incentives.

Recently, Health Leads received a $16 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to scale its impact.  The grant represents the largest in Health Leads history and one of the largest ever awarded by RWJF.

The grant will enable Health Leads to serve more patients around the country, as well as help facilitate its next phase of growth – building a national movement to catalyze the healthcare system to address patients’ basic needs as a standard part of care.  In a new article on Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR), Health Leads outlines its innovative approach to scale, intending to partner with a small number of leading health systems to drive the change it seeks in the healthcare system:

“Growing in this way enables us to focus on deep integration with our partners, and frees up valuable resources and management time to focus on catalyzing the ecosystem surrounding those partners.”

One of the first new partners in this phase of Health Leads growth: Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).  Last October, Health Leads opened a desk at MGH that has already served hundreds of patients. And most recently, the organization has expanded west.  At the end of May, Health Leads launched two new sites in California’s Bay Area – one at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and the other at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center – Richmond.  It is partnerships like these that Health Leads believe will drive the sector to the “new normal” it envisions.  As Health Leads said in SSIR:

Going small may not be glamorous. But if we can couple a powerful on-the-ground demonstration with pathways to change the sector, we will have the opportunity at last to transform health care for patients, physicians, and us all.

Continuous Human Body Measurements Will Make Us Better

Shankar Chandran
Shankar Chandran

As Vice President of the Samsung Catalyst Fund at the Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center in Menlo Park, Calif., Shankar Chandran spearheads strategic investments in disruptive technologies with a special focus on mobile health. Earlier positions in engineering, business development, and management, as well as experience inventing and taking eight technologies through the patent process, and degrees in engineering, materials science, and business equip Chandran for eyeing early stage and disruptive venture capital investments in technologies targeted at high growth sectors including cloud infrastructure, mobile technology, mobile health, next-generation user interfaces, and the internet of things.

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

Chandran: It’s the coming together of sensors and algorithms. The human body is the most complex system out there and the only time we are used to measuring anything in the human body is when we go for our annual physical. Now, technology and market forces are converging to the point where sensors are becoming accurate enough and algorithms are becoming sophisticated enough to take continuous measurements of the human body. That is the most remarkable innovation in front of us. It never existed before.

The Samsung Gear Fit, for example, can be worn on your wrist and measures your heart rate continuously. And that is just the beginning. Imagine measuring not only heart rate, but also other important vital signs continuously and noninvasively. That changes the paradigm of collecting data about the body. And what is in the market today is just baby steps toward what is likely to happen over the next three to five years.

Here’s an example: Years ago, when jet engines were adopted, they were an incredibly complex system. They would take a jet engine down for preventive maintenance every 30,000 miles or so. Today we have hundreds of sensors in every engine that constantly measure so-called “vital signs.” The moment something varies from what is normal they take it down. They don’t want to wait until the thing fails, obviously. Consider that the human body is way more complex than a jet engine; we just haven’t been able to measure a lot of things very well until now.

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

Chandran: One of the key things for an entrepreneur in any of the new emerging health tech categories, such as digital health and mobile health, to think about as they develop their technology, product, and vision, is that it’s going to have to work for a lot of different people. We’re all different with respect to genetics, ethnicity, age, sex, habits, lifestyles, and so many other parameters that affect us. All of these things matter when it comes to doing something about heath tech. To be successful, entrepreneurs have to have a very broad vision that works for a very large segment of the population.

Does that apply at Samsung? Samsung’s success is probably the opposite: We’re a consumer electronics company. We have the ability to micro-market what we can do. We’re able to slice and dice the market and build so many variations of the same product that may work, for instance in Korea but not Japan, in the U.S. but not China. For instance, we make 100 different Galaxy phones to make it work anywhere in the world.

But it’s hard to micro-market a health tech algorithm or sensor that’s going to make people’s lives better. It’s going to have to work for everyone. So for entrepreneurial success in health tech, the vision needs to be broad. That’s a challenge that very few companies have been able to manage very well.

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

Chandran: First and foremost, the entrepreneur’s idea needs to be highly disruptive, and not just an incremental turn on something that exists already. It must fundamentally solve, through ingenuity, a problem that is very hard to solve. Collaborators, regardless of geographies, will naturally gravitate toward the most disruptive ideas.

Also, the solution to the problem needs to have a large enough impact. It needs to work for a large market. Big companies, global corporations, and established companies naturally gravitate toward large opportunities. If they see the potential for a little company that is solving a problem with a large addressable market, then that matters.

Third—and perhaps the most important key—is that the entrepreneur needs to have the ability to tell the story extremely well. New companies need to rise above the noise. Their ability to tell the story must answer the biggest questions about how disruptive they are and how they are solving a big problem effectively. If they can do that, that’s what will let them rise above the noise and attract people. In fact, the phones won’t stop ringing.

The greatest technology communicator I have ever had the opportunity to listen to in my career has been Steve Jobs. People might not know the number of times he would practice before he got on stage to present anything new. I have personally heard that he would practice at least 50–60 times before he gave a keynote at Apple’s worldwide developer conference or at the launch of the new iPod or iPhone. That tells you a lot. It says that communicating the quality of the idea and the size of the opportunity and the impact it’s going to have on people’s lives is as an important an entrepreneurial trait as it is to actually invent the thing.

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?

Chandran: Technologies will help us fundamentally change our habits to live a better life. These will be individualized technologies that measure the human body and generate data that can be compared to the population in general. It will be continuous—every second or several times a second, depending on the vital signs being measured. We will measure multiple vital signs to get insights about a person. We will use those to change habits around eating, sleeping, managing stress, and more.

As we all know, there’s $8 trillion spent around the world on health care; $3 trillion of that is spent in the U.S., primarily on diagnosing and fixing chronic diseases. If what I am predicting happens, then we prevent that spending on the chronic diseases by delaying or eliminating some of them. That becomes a big deal. That is the biggest transformation I think is possible over the next 5 or 10 years.

Chandran is a Curator for The Hive at TEDMED 2014.

In Catalyst this week: Computer-assisted therapy, and an online feasibility facilitator

Mental illness is the single largest cause of disability in developed countries, even more than cancer and heart disease, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And depression in particular is under-treated in the U.S.; only half of those who suffer get help, particularly some minority groups.

We already use the Internet for countless patient interactions – why not as an adjunct to therapy? Empower Interactive, a TEDMED Hive 2013 company, developed a web-based program, Good Days Ahead, for those who suffer with anxiety, stress or depression.

“There’s a great volume of clinical evidence you can deliver some aspects of psychotherapy by software,” says Eve Phillips, CEO, who explored the potential of the technology while working as a research affiliate in the Synthetic Neurobiology Group at the MIT Media Lab.

Good Days is available in two strengths, so to speak. One is a clinical version to complement talk therapy. Roughly half of a treatment module contains targeted online education, while the other half is work one-on-one with a therapist, who can review information on how the patient is using the system.

The wellbeing version is a self-coping tool that aims to help those with mild symptoms of anxiety and depression. A related mobile app, ReThink, allows users of both platforms to record thoughts and emotions, accompanied by photos, for later reflection. Anonymized, aggregated data gives administrators feedback on user activities and outcomes.

Good Days was co-authored by psychiatrist Aaron Beck, generally considered to be the founder of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It is a treatment that examines the way that our thoughts and perceptions of situations influence our actions and how we feel emotionally. Research consistently shows that computer-assisted CBT is as effective as standard therapy, and patients using these programs better understand what CBT is and how it works. It’s more cost-effective and easier to disseminate. That’s key in an area like mental health, which is under treated in the U.S. and around the globe. CBT is also helpful for those suffering with chronic pain.

For those reasons and more, Empower has already been working with the United States Army to help enlisted personnel and veterans. They’re also working with Sutter Health and San Francisco Health Plan, and have pilot programs with other major insurers and health systems.

“Some groups are trying to integrate behavioral health into primary care, or do it in a more saleable and consistent way, or perhaps under the umbrella of under chronic disease management,” Phillips says.

Eventually, Phillips hopes to craft a program for kids and teens, too – another under-served population, and certainly one at ease with computer screens.

Building A Global Research Superhighway

“LinkedIn on steroids” is how Dr. Fabio Thiers, founder and CEO of The Hive 2013 company ViS Research, describes the web platform that helps trial planners to find investigators and sign up the perfect research center. An analytics-slash-communications tool, ViS helps planners source and sort investigators by capabilities, expertise, current trials and available patient populations, and then contact them on the closed system. Currently, some 330,000 investigators from 178 countries are represented on the system, comprising 417,000 disease-specific centers.  The data is visualized according to location.

Pharmaceutical companies spend billions each year on feasibility studies, while research centers spend valuable time trying to attract them. When the twain do meet, an average of half of all centers drop off during the lifetime of a study. The inefficiencies lead to some $10 billion each year in waste, Thiers says, including greater expense and longer lead times for drug discovery.

Thiers, who trained as an MD in Brazil, also trained at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences & Technology and previously ran a research program on global resource allocation at MIT. That interdisciplinary background, plus his worldly perspective, helped him to build ViS’ global team of medical researchers, programmers, trial planners, statisticians, and designers.

The nature of the platform meant launching a global enterprise right off the bat, which ViS has done, with regional offices in the US, Brazil, Germany and India.

ViS also has the potential to be a global equalizer for industry opportunity.

“The previous system was about about who you know. More well-known sites were more likely to be chosen. Here, all sites have the opportunity and a common platform for which to share their capabilities,” Thiers says.

ViS has partnered with a number of industry groups and non-profits to expand and improve its network. They’re working with ACRES, the Alliance for Clinical Research Excellence and Safety, to help inform standards for clinical research sites. The company is also working with the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and its member companies to map more than 3,000 institutions with pediatric experience across 84 countries.

Catalyst is an ongoing series about health innovation, focusing on companies from the TEDMED Hive.  For more information about The Hive 2014, click here.

Meet the Team Curating The 2014 Hive

The Hive at TEDMED isn’t simply a showcase of entrepreneurs and startups; it is a meeting of minds and ideas. It gives companies and individuals the power to make unique connections and to accomplish breakthroughs. Brilliant solutions may seem obvious in hindsight, but the ability to pave an innovative path is a rare skill.

Recognizing that skill requires unusually talented people. That’s why we’ve recruited a diverse and deeply experienced team to help select the entrepreneurs who will represent new innovation in The Hive in 2014. Our curators are social influencers, venture capitalists, inventors, proven leaders in design and entrepreneurship and more. Each is a seasoned disruptor who has made a vast impact in health and medicine and who represents an organization with a commitment to creating a healthier world.

TEDMED Hive 2014 Curators

Michael Blum

A longstanding leader in informatics, Michael drives the design and implementation of enterprise clinical and research information systems and technologies across the University of California, San Francisco. He also leads UCSF’s new Center for Digital Health Innovation.


Leslie Bottorff

A venture capitalist with an enviable success record, Leslie invests in healthcare start-ups at GE Ventures, specializing in medical technology and emerging business models.


Shankar Chandran

A venture capitalist, Shankar spearheads strategic investments in disruptive technologies at Samsung Catalyst Fund, with a special focus on mHealth.


Zen Chu

Using engineering to hack medicine for better quality at lower cost, Zen drives development of early-stage medical devices and healthcare information tech at MIT.



Sumbul Ahmad Desai

A journalist-turned-Disney-strategist-turned-doctor, Sumbul now leads innovation and the design and deployment of virtual care and digital products at Stanford Medicine.


Ken Drazan

His latest move to head up Johnson & Johnson’s Innovation Center in California continues Ken’s long history of catalyzing early stage ideas and helping bring novel and transformative medicines, devices, and consumer products to market.


Thomas Goetz

Co-founder of Iodine and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Thomas helps find and nurture fledgling ideas with big promise to improve public health.


Sean Hughes

As Chief Design Officer at Philips Healthcare, Sean develops a broad range of products, interfaces and consulting solutions that help shape the future of healthcare and save lives.



Mohit Kaushal

Doctor, former government IT policy advisor and business development leader, Mohit is a Partner and investment sage at Aberdare Ventures, which works solely with healthcare companies.


Regis Kelly

As the Director of QB3, one of four California Institutes for Science and Innovation, Regis marshalls the efforts of some 200 quantitative biologists to convert their discoveries into scaleable, usable benefits for people.


Peter Tippett

As Verizon’s Chief Medical Officer, Peter oversees healthcare strategy and a vast portfolio of solutions designed to speed evolution of the healthcare IT ecosystem.


We thank this powerhouse collection of curators for sharing their expertise as part of The Hive 2014. You can see all their full bios on TEDMED.com, and over the next few weeks we’ll bring you an in-depth discussion with each of our Curators exploring his or her insights and perspectives over the next few weeks as part of our Catalyst Series.

At the end of April, we will begin announcing the startups selected for The Hive 2014.

Don’t miss out on any updates:  Follow Hive news on Twitter at #TEDMEDHive and here on the blog.

Gene therapy discovery may help the heart to heal itself

Could a heart damaged by disease or cardiac arrest be coaxed to repair itself?

Immunostaining Highlights New Cardiomyocytes in Ventricular Tissue
Immunostaining Highlights New Cardiomyocytes in Ventricular Tissue

Hina Chaudhry, MD, is leading research of a gene therapy that has shown promising results in animal studies. She co-authored a study published today in Science Translational Medicine that details how the gene, cyclin A2, helps cardiac muscle cells – cardiomyocytes – undergo cell division in pigs, regenerating healthy tissue and helping the heart to repair itself. Normally the cyclin A2 gene is silenced, preventing further cellular division, post-birth in mammals.

The procedure is backed by the biotech company VentriNova, Inc., a TEDMED 2013 Hive company founded by Dr. Chaudhry, who is also a TEDMED Innovation Scholar.

The company claims that no other regenerative strategy on the market or in clinical development has the ability to grow new heart muscle cells in the diseased heart.

“Everybody else has been doing something different — injecting stem cell transplants in the heart, and it has generally failed. You have to understand how cells divide. Why do they stop? That’s where you see the vast mortality of heart disease,” Chaudhry says.

Though there is some rate of cell turnover in the human heart, it is not enough to repair muscle damage after a cataclysmic event such as myocardial infarction. Instead, scar tissue forms. Certain metazoan species, though, do have the ability to regenerate; the newt can replace injured body parts, and the adult zebrafish heart may be able to regenerate up to 20% of its volume, the study reports.

Chaudhry’s team used an adenovirus to deliver cyclin A2, a cell cycle regulatory gene, which induced cell mitoses. Animals that received therapy showed improved heart function compared to controls. The authors also observed significantly decreased fibrosis and  increased numbers of cardiomyocytes.

Hina Chaudhry, with Amaresh Ranjan (left) and Mount Sinai Graduate Student Jerry Saunders
Hina Chaudhry with study co-author Amaresh Ranjan (left), and Mount Sinai graduate student Jerry Saunders

Dr. Chaudhry, who is Director of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, has been working on the project for close to two decades; she got the idea working as a research fellow.

“This is the most exciting publication of my life,” she said to TEDMED. “I can’t wait until it goes into clinical trials, and I’m very hopeful that it will work in human patients.”

Study co-authors are Drs. Scott Shapiro and Amaresh Ranjan, also from Mount Sinai.

— Stacy Lu