October 9, 2016 – Coronado, CA
Exponential Medicine 2016
The Exponential Medicine 2016 conference is taking place at the Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, CA from October 8 – 11, 2016. Exponential Medicine is a unique and intensive four-day experience that gathers world-class faculty, innovators and organizations from across the biomedical and technology spectrum to explore and leverage the convergence of fast moving technologies in the reinvention and future of health and medicine. Dr. Daniel Kraft is the Faculty Chair for Medicine & Neuroscience at Singularity University and is the Founding Executive Director of Exponential Medicine.
Tikkyn Olam Makers
“There is no vaporware here. Real people need these things.”
The founder of Tikkum Olam Makers (TOM), Arnon Zamir, said it best:”There is no vaporware here. Real people need these things.” This describes the tenor of the whole conference too, but is an apt description of TOM (http://tomglobal.org/). TOM is a proud start-up of the Reut Group, an innovative policy and strategy group courageously pursuing a 10-year vision to positively impact the lives of 250 Million people worldwide. They launched as part of a ROI Schusterman Connection Points Program in late 2013, giving birth to a global movement of Makers using their talents and creativity to design assistive technology for people with disabilities.
Their primary goal is to provide assistive technology for anyone that needs it in the world. There are 54M people in the United States living with disabilities and about 50% of those have a severe disability. Those can translate to death in the developing world without assistive technology. The organization identifies a challenge, determines a solution, and provides it as an open source design that anyone can replicate in the world.
It was founded just over 2 years ago in Israel. They have conducted 12 make-a-thons including in the US, Canada, Brazil, Vietnam, and Argentina. Next up is Bulgaria and Australia. Their process begins with challenge selection up to possibly 3 months prior to the actual make-a-thon beginning with identification of “need knowers” and design challenges. The team pairs of “need knowers” and local talent for a 1 month collaborative design process followed by 3 days of manufacturing using laser cutters, 3D printers, and other equipment. The solution is posted online to market at TOM.
A project in Vietnam was created to design a wheelchair for a 4 year old girl whose mother carrier her, usually sleeping due to the situation, in her arms for nearly her entire life. The average salary in Vietnam is $209 per month. The average wheelchair to assist with her particular disability costs $3,000. The TOM team including local talent was able to reduce the cost to a manageable $88.
“My generation was exposed to an interconnected world from the beginning. Responsibility comes with that.”
Olivia Hallisey won the Google Science Fair in 2015 at the age of 17 years old for the development of a fast, cheap, and stable test for the Ebola virus. The test is user friendly and provides results in less than 30 minutes. The problem with the existing diagnostics for Ebola was that they were not temperature independent. Olivia could not imagine how they could be completed accurately in Africa as a result. She was inspired by the female nurses and aid workers in West Africa who were so instrumental in curbing the virus. She wanted to help arm her fellow female scientist and health practitioners in the Ebola crisis.
See the short film Nzara ’76 by John Noble, winner of a 2014 Raw Science Film Festival Award:
A possible solution to the temperature dependence of current Eliza kits for diagnosing Ebola were not initially clear. Eventually, she designed a lateral flow test using simple and readily available instrumentation and materials in her high school science lab along with silk cocoons available on Etsy! Technical details can be found in this article on Business Insider. The new assay worked. In the future, she hopes to commercialize it for Ebola and other diseases such as Zika, Lyme, and celiac disease.
Olivia gave an inspiring response when asked if her generation feels a large weight of responsibility for the future. “My generation was exposed to an interconnected world from the beginning. Responsibility comes with that. We are global citizens and need to taken on both the benefits and responsibility of our interconnectedness.”
“We are leading a transformation in the understanding and treatment of rare, genetically inherited diseases.”
Conference attendees could get their cheeks swabbed for DNA analysis and a genetic assessment including skin, fitness, and nutrition. ORIG3N established the world’s largest uniformly consented cell repository to better understand the cellular and molecular foundations of disease. The cells are ever-renewing and give rise to a living database of humanity they call LifeCapsule. The science is based on Nobel Prize-winning regenerative medicine technology. They believe their approach will replace the trial-and-error guesswork of diagnosing and treating disease. In short, a person can obtain DNA analysis as well as store stem cells for future personalized use!
“Fighting ALS with mind, hand, and heart.”
The team behind Pison Technology is certainly inspiring. The MIT startup has four members: Dexter Ang, David Cipoletta, Wenxin Feng, and Bobby Forster. They are creating a communication and control device to help people with ALS and other neuromuscular conditions who cannot speak or move their body. The most well-known communication technology for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS, is eye gaze. The reality is that less than 10% of people with ALS use it. Their goal is to help every person with neuromuscular conditions have access to affordable, effective, and efficient communication. They are creating wearable sensors that enable people to effortlessly control mobile phones, tablets and wheelchairs.
Other devices which require detecting electrical signals in the brain to communicate (i.e. EEG), the EMG-based tool is also actuated by electrical signals instead of mechanical movement…anywhere in the body. Even if a person has no ability to move, the nerves in the arms and legs are preserved and generate signals. Pison Technology has a working prototype for wireless communication for those who have lost the ability to move their arms and legs. It will be customizable and can supplement existing communication technology like eye gaze and manual switches. It is small, wireless, and multi-channel.
Team member Bobby Forster is 27 years old and was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) less than 2 years ago. The mother of fellow team member Dexter Ang inspred the idea to utilize EMG to harness the electrical systems still active in ALS patients. Last fall, Ang lost his mother to ALS. He gave up a high paying career in high-frequency trading to go back to school at MIT and to launch the startup with the team.
Stay tuned for Autodesk’s Andrew Hessel, Field Ready’s A. Dara Dotz, and the SU Labs Start-Up Incubator.
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Photo: Wikimedia, Olivia Hallisey image courtesy of iq.intel.com, main image courtesy of ORIG3N