TEDMED 2020 moves to Boston

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We are thrilled to announce our next event, TEDMED 2020, is moving to an exciting new home in Boston, and to a brand new spot on the calendar. We look forward to seeing you March 2-4, at the Westin Waterfront Hotel in Boston’s up and-coming Seaport District. 

Boston is the perfect home for TEDMED 2020, a city and a community with deep roots in pioneering new ideas and pushing forward innovation – much like TEDMED itself. 

We hope you make plans to join us at TEDMED 2020.

TEDMED coverage: Bringing Music Into the Visual World

This article was originally posted on inspirational news site Ever Widening Circles.

Have you ever looked up the lyrics to a song? When you read them alone, they’re flat, stagnant, and lacking the feeling the piece is meant to elicit. But add tone, expression, and a few instrumentals to the equation and you’ve got a piece overflowing with emotion and character, lifting those words into a new meaning.

So, if only those lyrics are being interpreted for the deaf community, to what extent are they being included in the art form?

Here’s one of the people bridging this gap between the auditory world and the visual by expressing the emotional power of music through a special variation of American Sign Language (ASL) created specifically for music.

For years, Amber Galloway Gallego has been interpreting songs, both live at music festivals and on her YouTube channel, with this dynamic variation of sign language.

Here’s how TEDMED describes what she does,

“Sign language music interpreter Amber Galloway Gallego demonstrates the emotional connection between lyrics and sounds with the flow of her hands. Responding to a desire from the Deaf community to see, experience and connect emotionally to music in the same way hearing people do, Amber developed an immersive style that brings music to life in a way not often seen in music interpreting.” 1

So, how does it work? Here’s Vox with the story. Just a warning for sensitive ears, there are a few f-bombs dropped midway through.

The multitude of ways we’re able to communicate and share experiences with one another is one of the aspects of humanity that truly sets us apart from the rest of the animal world. Music is one of our oldest and most expressive forms of communication. It’s a part of who we are, so why should the ability to feel the emotions it conjures be limited to a specific group of us?

“That’s the whole reason we go to music events–is to be a part of this experience and forget about the rest of the world, and be there in that moment. And so many times deaf people are not allowed that experience because we as hearing people choose to say no.” — Amber Galloway Gallego 3

To see one example of how she truly expresses the music, take a look at Amber’s interpretation of Michael Jackson’s song, Beat It, from her YouTube channel.

You can learn even more about how Amber Galloway Gallego found herself with this knack for music interpretation and what drives her to keep going in this wonderful feature from the Houston Chronicle. Be sure to explore the rest of her YouTube channel for more amazing interpretations and, as always, stay open to new possibilities!

TEDMED Coverage – Medical Video Game Guru: Interview with Sam Glassenberg, Level Ex CEO

This article was originally posted on medical news site Medgadget


Sam Glassenberg has spent his career in the video game industry, and now is on a mission to bring the leading edge of video game technology into healthcare. Sam is the founder and CEO of Level Ex, an award winning company making professional video games for doctors. Before Level Ex, Sam was CEO of a leading independent game publisher in Hollywood, led the DirectX team at Microsoft, and has been pushing limits in the gaming industry. Sam has an M.S. in Computer Science and Graphics from Stanford University, and a B.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois. I met Sam at the recently concluded TEDMED 2018 and spoke with him about his company and the direction they are headed.

Tom Fowler, Medgadget: What is your favorite video game of all time? (excluding Level Ex games of course)

Sam Glassenberg: It’s a toss-up between Duke Nukem 3D (1996) and Half-Life 2 (2004). Both of these games introduced revolutionary graphics technologies, physics-based gameplay, storytelling techniques, and most importantly – raised the bar for interactable environments. The world of Duke Nukem really came to life – it felt as though you could interact with almost any element in the urban environment, which was unheard of in 1996. Half-Life 2 had breathtaking graphics and artwork for the time. Most importantly, its in-game physics were sophisticated enough to enable groundbreaking physics-based gameplay in the genre. It was the first-person-shooter to have complex puzzles that required you to manipulate objects in the scene the right way to achieve the goal – combining rigid objects, water, forces, and other physical elements. My favorite game in the last few years is Mushroom 11. It’s a physics puzzler that was actually designed by our Lead Game Designer at Level Ex before he joined us. I’m not the only one with that opinion – it won an Apple Design Award and Google Play Independent Game of the Year in 2017.


Medgadget: When did you first get interested in expanding your video gaming interests into healthcare?

Sam Glassenberg: The whole thing happened by accident in 2012.

I’ve enjoyed an exciting and impactful career in the video games industry animating Star Wars cutscenes at LucasArts/LucasFilm and managing teams at Microsoft and elsewhere.

I come from a long line of doctors – my grandfather, both my parents, uncles, and my wife. I was the black sheep of the family that didn’t go to medical school.

Back in 2012, my father, who is an anesthesiologist at Northwestern in Chicago, asked me to put all this “video game nonsense” to good use and build him a fiberoptic intubation simulator for his colleagues and residents. “I don’t want to drag anyone to the sim center,” he said. “Make me something that’ll run on their iPads.”

Two years later he called me up and asked, “How many people downloaded that thing?” “I have no idea,” I responded. “Let me check.”

So I did. We had 100,000 downloads from doctors, nurses, and EMTs worldwide. At that point, I googled it and they had done efficacy studies on it that showed it improved physician performance. Clearly, this was fulfilling a major unmet need in the medical community.

In 2016, I decided to assemble a team of top video game artists, engineers, and designers – along with top physicians in their field and leaders from digital health to build mobile and VR video games for physicians, now becoming a go-to virtual patient platform that allows them to overcome clinical challenges they face in medical practice, learn new approaches and techniques, and keep up to speed on medical device and pharmaceutical products – all in the framework of an entertaining video game.

Medgadget: What was the biggest design hurdle transitioning from creating entertainment oriented games to medically accurate simulations?

Sam Glassenberg: Our company doesn’t have to make this compromise when creating our games. Our team of game designers, who have decades of experience making games across a number of genres [played by 100s of millions of users], are skilled at applying proven game design principles from entertainment-based games to our physician video games. They know how to capture the thrill and challenge of practicing medicine from first-person perspective surgical scenarios to complex diagnosis puzzles that translates to an engaging and fun experience for the physician, especially when you present competitive design mechanics like scoring, time limits and leaderboards.


Medgadget: Do you foresee Level Ex expanding to mannequins and simulation hardware?

Sam Glassenberg: No; I don’t see us heading in that direction. There’s an ecosystem out there already of companies selling simulators and mannequins into hospitals. Unfortunately, only a fraction of medical professionals can even access this ecosystem since these tools are locked away in a few hundred simulation centers or inconsistently used across hospitals due to cost, lack of realism, and/or limited use cases. We’ve found that our ability to deliver our high bar of realistic content on mobile gives us the ability to impact the practice of medicine at scale (we’ve already crossed 300,000 medical professionals in just a year).


Medgadget: If I gave you $1 billion to develop a product of any kind, what would you create?

Sam Glassenberg: In short: I’d fix EHRs.

Transitioning from a career in video games to healthcare has been a sequence of what I’d call, for lack of a better term, “face-palm-able” moments. Moments where we realize how gruesomely far behind-the-curve healthcare can be relative to other industries. To their credit, healthcare folks readily admit this and share their frustration.

Coming from video games, we are constantly uncovering the challenges doctors face in learning new techniques. The stories all follow the same arc, with a climax that’s some variation of: “Wait a minute – we solved that problem over a decade ago in the games industry!”.

At Level Ex, we’re solving the problem for physician training – which is an important step in improving both patient outcomes and physician job satisfaction.

What is even more crushing to physician job satisfaction? EHRs.

When I order a Lyft on my phone, the user interface has been tuned and optimized to the point that I literally have to move one finger the minimal possible distance with the fewest number of taps to order a car.

My wife’s a pediatrician. At night, I watch her type and click endlessly for hours into her EHR. Typing the same things – over and over again. Dragging her mouse for miles in a slow, unwieldy interface that looks straight out of 1991. She’s literally doing it right now as I type up the answer to this question.

This is someone who has spent a substantial percentage of her life, at considerable expense, learning how to be a doctor. I shudder to think of the billions of dollars wasted as specialists are relegated to data entry, not to mention the immeasurable cost of the resulting attrition.

Facebook, Google, Uber, Grubhub, Siri, video games – we’ve solved these UX and data entry problems many times over. With $1B I’d unleash that on EHRs and disrupt that entire industry.

Congressman Raul Ruiz Visits TEDMED 2015 to Discuss Improving America’s Health

Congressman Raul Ruiz and TEDMED Chief Operating Officer Shirley Bergin.  Photo credit: Jarod Harris

Congressman Raul Ruiz and TEDMED Chief Operating Officer Shirley Bergin. Photo credit: Jarod Harris

The Honorable Congressman Raul Ruiz, representative of California’s 36th district, visited the 2015 TEDMED conference on Friday, November 20th. The Congressman is a medical doctor whose background includes working abroad in Mexico, El Salvador, and Serbia, and serving as an emergency physician at a nonprofit hospital in his district’s Coachella Valley. Congressman Ruiz is dedicated to improving health care and addressing health disparities, topics that are closely tied to TEDMED 2015 host city Palm Springs. Palm Springs is an exemplar of a city with a strong, functional health care system: it is a highly diverse community with high quality, accessible health care providers.

TEDMED has announced that their 2016 conference will be held in Palm Springs again next year.

Another Option is proud to be a part of TEDMED 2015.

TEDMED 2015 Kicks Off in La Quinta

Article originally written by Barrett Newkirk for The Desert Sun – November 18, 2015.

Health and wellness reporter Barrett Newkirk can be reached at (760) 778-4767, or on Twitter @barrettnewkirk.

The annual meeting of minds known as TEDMED got underway in La Quinta on Wednesday with hundreds of attendees hearing from a diverse lineup of experts discussing work that often overlaps medicine and technology.

The annual conference, which is the independent and medically focused offshoot of the TEDTALK series, continues through Friday at the La Quinta Resort & Club. As many as 800 were expected to attend, many of them students, medical professional or entrepreneurs.

Chris Bi, a cancer drug researcher with Pfizer in San Diego, took a moment to snap photos of palm trees lit up at night just before the first round of speakers began. Bi said he came to hear from innovators who may help his own research, but also to get exposure to people working in areas far different from his research lab.

“I want to see how things can intersect to help with work in a lot of fields,” he said.

For those who can’t attend in person, live-streaming events are happening around the world. Talks will also be posted on the TEDMED website after they’re completed.

Physician Pamela Wible speaks at TEDMED 2015.  Photo credit: Jerod Harris/provided photo

Physician Pamela Wible speaks at TEDMED 2015. Photo credit: Jerod Harris/provided photo

Speakers Wednesday ran between humorous and deadpan serious. They included people working with the latest in human gene technology and a part-time cardiologist/part-time folk singer who is about to have her second child.

Family physician Pamela Wible began her 15-minute talk in a light mood before calling an alarm on the medical profession.

“I love the three things that people fear the most,” Wible said, “death, disease and public speaking.”

She then discussed the problem of physician suicide, reading suicide notes and showing photos from three cases. She said it’s “medicine’s dark secret, and it’s covered up by our hospitals, clinics and medical schools.”

Conference speakers Karen Stobbe and Mondy Carter stood in the conference’s social lounge after traveling from North Carolina. Their work also crosses unusual boundaries. They use techniques from improvisational theater to help caregivers relate with Alzheimer’s patients.

Stobbe explained that like with improv, caregivers often need to follow someone else’s lead.

“If you’re on stage and someone says ‘I have a duck in my room,’ and you say ‘No you don’t,’ you get into a horrible argument on stage,” she said. “With Alzheimer’s, if someone says ‘I have a duck in my room,’ you go see the duck in their room.”

Stobbe and Carter’s talk is set for Thursday morning as part of a session all about the human mind.

Conversation with MakerNurse Co-Founder Anna Young at TEDMED 2015

Article originally written by Tom Fowler for Medgadget – November 20, 2015.

MakerNurse co-founder Anna Young

MakerNurse co-founder Anna Young

Anna Young, co-founder of MakerNurse, is bringing rapid prototyping tools into hospital units to enable nurses, other providers, and even patients to problem-solve with innovative do-it-yourself labs within hospitals, with the end goal of ultimately improving patient care. Anna and her team at MIT’s Little Devices Lab bring rapid prototyping tools into hospital units creating “Maker Health Spaces”. They recently spunoff Pop Up Labs, a privately held company to take these tools to scale across clinical environments. Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, MakerNurse aims to empower nurses and bring nurse “making” to helm of changing the face of health care. I had the opportunity to meet with Anna at this year’s TEDMED conference in Palm Springs, CA, to talk about her work.

Tom Fowler, Medgadget: So Anna, have you always been a tinkerer?

Anna Young: I walked into MIT as a trained economist 6-years ago and it was there that I learned how to teardown medical devices, learn how they work and modify them through design and prototyping. If I could do it, I knew anybody could do it. That became my main interesting: how do you develop democratizing tools for medical device design and prototyping.

Medgadget: What type of traction do “Medical Maker Spaces” see in hospitals? What percentage of nurses will take the leap of faith into becoming device developers?

Anna Young: Across the board, 1 in 5 nurses is what Eric von Hippel will call, a “lead user”, they are faster than a device firm to identify a gap in a product and to spot an opportunity for problem solving. Hospitals are loving the notion that they get to transform themselves from problem spotters in need of design and engineering partnerships to developers of their own solutions.  And it’s not just traditional research hospitals. Our biggest opportunities are in regional and community hospitals with large volumes of patients.

Medgadget: Provide an example of one awesome, and one terrible product that has come from a Maker Health Space.

Anna Young: Best example, wearable google to control hydration in eyes for burn patients.  Worst example, an anatomical wound model that burned through 5lbs of 3D printer filament only to create a very awkward looking mold. To be fair, we love both of them. We think everyone deserves the chance to experiment and prototype. I’d rather see 20 failed prototypes than 1000 post-it notes of ideas for products that never get created.


Medgadget: Does this model have legal dilemmas running into the FDA?

Anna Young: We shepherd the prototyping process to make sure our medical makers meet every regulatory guideline at different levels. Whether it’s an internal IRB study or a 510k submission. Our Maker Health Spaces come wrapped with an ethical and legal advisory board that makes sure the prototypes meet regulatory guidelines. That means that you can prototype a device, take through an internal research study to learn how well it performs and be faster at designing its pathway into patient care.  At the end of the day though, safety is always #1.

Medgadget: If I donated $1 billion to you for any project, what would you do?

Anna Young: Build a network of lending libraries of Maker Health prototyping kits around the country so that prototyping tools become more accessible and we remove the digital device in health technology.

Tom Fowler worked as a programmer in the healthcare IT industry before settling back in school to learn how to become a doctor. He likes to dabble with biotech startups, write postcards to his relatives, and play his ukulele. He was a TEDMED ’13 scholar, has published research in biomedical informatics, and continues to advocate for international maternal and child health. Currently in the SELECT MD leadership program at USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

Another Option is proud to be a part of TEDMED 2015.