We returned to Singularity University for Day 5, which focused on regenerative medicine, neurotechnology, and the future of medical practice. Though we caught a number of presentations, a primary focus today was on exploring the workshops and demos (stay tuned for some upcoming videos and articles).
The first talk of the day was given by FutureMed’s Executive Director, Dr. Daniel Kraft. Kraft is the founder of multiple medical technology companies, including IntelliMedicine, which focuses on enabling connected, data driven, and integrated personalized medicine, and RegenMed Systems, which aims to develop stem cell based regenerative therapies. Though we missed the majority of his current overview of regenerative medicine, we wanted to be sure to reference his great TEDMED talk about the future of medicine:
Following Kraft was Carnegie Mellon professor Alan Russell who discussed his research as well as Carnegie Mellon’s new Institute for Disruptive Health Technology. What’s interesting about CMU getting involved in healthcare is that it does not have a medical school and is still partnering with a major insurance company (BlueCross/BlueShield). At this point we left to record some demos, and then rejoined the participants for a 3D printing workshop using Google SketchUp for computer aided design and the $1,200 Cubify printer. The workshop was run by earlier speaker and head of Singularity University faculty, Dan Barry, and culminated in individualized designs that each participant was able to have printed as a souvenir.
We returned to the speaker classroom for the second session of the day, this one on neurotechnology. After a talk by UCSF professor of Neurology Adam Gazzaley we heard from Omeneron founder and neuroscientist Christopher deCharms. deCharms talked about the field of cognitive enhancement and how his work on games for education and health may contribute. He concluded that “our brains are too complicated for there to be a ‘Holy Grail’ of cognitive enhancement. Rather, we will need to rely on a synergistic approach involving exercise, diet, medication, video games, etc.” Next up was writer Linda Stone who gave a brief yet engaging talk on how our daily interactions with technology can affect our health, e.g. screen apnea in which the position we put ourselves in when using our laptops or smartphones leads us to inhale but not exhale fully.
After a break for lunch we resumed with the Future of Medical Practice session. First up was the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the US Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Farzad Mostashari. After his talk, we heard from University of Washington professor – and Google Glass Project Lead – Dr. Babak Parviz. Parviz described the Google Glass project and even demoed it in front of the participants. Medgadget has often covered projects that Parviz has been involved with, including non-invasive blood glucose monitoring via a contact lens. This was one of the most interesting and well-received talks of the entire conference.
Soon after Parviz’s talk, MIT Media Lab professor Ramesh Raskar took the stage to discuss his lab’s innovative work with optics. His team was responsible for the EyeNETRA (Near-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment), which is a low-cost smartphone add-on that can be used for visual acuity measurements. This author spoke at length with Raskar and EyeNETRA Co-Founder/CEO David Schafer and will be writing more about the device in the near future. In his presentation Raskar also showed impressive images and concepts that his group is working on, including a trillion frames-per-second camera that was able to record a beam of light and slow it down 10 billion times to a speed of under 0.3 m/s. He believes applications of this type of technology may include novel imaging cameras that can be attached to, say, colonoscopes and improve visualization of hard-to-reach places such as potential polyps hidden around colonic bends.
Next up was the Patient Perspective panel moderated by FutureMed Executive Producer Robin Farmanfarmaian and featuring engaging stories from former Google Chief Health Strategist Dr. Roni Zeiger, writer Linda Stone (whom we heard from earlier and who is cautious about the quantified self movement in terms of adversely affecting humanism in medicine), and Crohnology founder Sean Ahrens.
The final session of the day resumed the discussion about the future of medical practice. We heard about crowdsourcing medicine from former Medgadget editor and Webicina.com founder Bertalan Meskó as well as the future of health monitoring from Scanadu founder and CEO Walter de Brouwer. de Brouwer gave an interesting overview of the types of difficult data sets that Scanadu has been working on (including spectral imaging, olfactory, and microfluidics) and predicted that “healthcare as we know it will disappear” as large companies begin offering passive data collection and health monitoring as a service within one’s own bathroom (e.g. Colgate), kitchen (e.g. Philips), and car (e.g. Toyota).
The last speaker of the day was Dr. Jonathan Sackner-Bernstein who previously headed up the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiologic Health and currently serves as VP for Clinical Development and Regulatory Affairs at NeoStem. One of his discussion points that caught our attention was the call for the FDA and DARPA to collaborate more; the latter understands that in order to make progress we sometimes have to accept experiments whereas the former, for often good reasons (e.g. thalidomide), is built on a foundation of aversion to risk.
After all of the talks, the participants headed to dinner and a small closing ceremony in the NASA Ames Exploration Center. An excellent way to celebrate the second-to-last day of FutureMed!
Previous coverage: FutureMed Day 1: The 6 “Ds” of Exponential Growth; Day 2: Data, Data, and more Data; Day 3: Garage Biotech, Surgical Disruption, and Design; Day 4: Field Trips, Kurzweil, and Entrepreneurship;