DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid, is perhaps the most well-known biological molecule. DNA is present in all forms of life on earth. Essentially, every cell in our bodies contains DNA or the genetic instructions - or code - that makes us what we are. DNA has a unique double helix shape, like a twisted ladder and carries these instructions or code for the development, growth, reproduction, functioning and health of all life. Remarkably, if all of the DNA in a human body was unraveled, it would reach to the sun and back more than 300 times.
The code in DNA is determined by the order of the four nucleotide bases that make up DNA, adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine and is the complete set of genes and is called a genome.
As the National Human Genome Research Institute works to unlock the secrets of the human genome, researchers continue learning that nearly all diseases that we face have a genetic component. Some diseases are caused by mutations that are inherited from parents and are present in an individual at birth, like sickle cell disease, for example. Other diseases are caused by acquired mutations in a gene or group of genes that occur during a person's life. Such mutations are not inherited from a parent, but occur either randomly or due to some environmental exposure like pollutants. Today’s guest is working tirelessly to create therapies to treat genetic diseases. Specifically, Monogenic diseases.
As defined by the World Health Organization, Monogenic diseases result from modifications in a single gene occurring in all cells of the body. Though relatively rare, they affect millions of people worldwide. Researchers estimate that over 10,000 of human diseases are known to be monogenic. Pure genetic diseases are caused by a single error in a single gene in the human DNA.
As you can gather from my brief description, working to treat genetic diseases is complicated, demanding work and requires the commitment and intellectual power of people who are dedicated to finding answers. Today’s guest Scott Sneddon is one of those people. Scott is the President & CEO of Sharp Edge Labs. He is an entrepreneur and scientist trained in chemistry and biology with an emphasis on computational methods. He holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry & Biophysics from Carnegie-Mellon University, a J.D. from Columbia University Law School and has over 20 years of experience in the drug discovery industry, having held leadership positions at Pfizer and Genzyme. At Pfizer Dr. Sneddon was a member of the New Leads Discovery group under innovator Fred Vinick. He then went to Genzyme with Fred to help establish Genzyme's small molecule drug discovery program. There he led the Assay Development and High Throughput Screening group and was a pioneer in implementing high-throughput functional cellular assays for primary drug screening (before such a thing was fashionable).
Accelerators, incubators, technology parks, consortiums, start-up ecosystems……..buzz words that those of us that work in technology development and talk about innovation for a living are used to saying as part of our entrepreneurial vernacular. All of these elements are an important part of developing innovation. But these elements must be built in an environment that supports them or they are futile. Regions that are successful at building innovation economies know that, most importantly, there must be community support for technology development and investment. There must be a culture in place to motivate a community to drive innovation. Building new innovation communities and entrepreneurial cultures is not easy. It requires commitment, investment, talent, knowledge, time and space. It also requires critical efforts to bring a group of different minds coming together to share ideas, obstacles, and assets in the spirit of collaboration. Innovation experts know that entrepreneurs assisting entrepreneurs in informal social networks is the “secret sauce” of what helps a region become a thriving entrepreneurial hub. According to a report by Compass, entrepreneurs’ connections with their peers are shown to be as important to start-up growth in some cities as the role of institutions.
The aphorism that "a rising tide lifts all boats" illustrates this idea that a connected community and improved culture will benefit every community member. The ideal that we all more likely to succeed together. This is especially true when building innovative technology companies. A successful innovation community must collaborate to build everything from education to research to business creation, start-up incubation, marketing, communication and sales.
Our guest on this episode knows all about entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs. Kit Mueller is known as a Serial Tummler or a person who connects people and makes things happen. And that’s what Kit has been doing in Pittsburgh’s tech sector for years. Kit describes himself as an “Entrepreneurial Community Builder with a proven history of entrepreneurial success in the software and creative industries. Kit is an exuberant entrepreneur who advises startups, invests in them and organizes events to get entrepreneurs in the same room talking about what’s worked, what’s failed, and what’s ripe with potential. He built his first technology startup at just 21 years old and has been busy ever since creating ventures like Startup Boost Pittsburgh, StartUp Weekend, Built in Pittsburgh, Fygment Productions, Speak Freely, ShiftPgh, and RustBuilt.
According to a report from the Center for American Progress, healthcare costs ranked among voters’ top concerns in the 2018 midterm elections. The federal government estimates that health care expenditures reached an average of $11,000 per person per year in 2017 and that costs will continue to grow more than 5.5 percent annually over the next decade. Slowing the increase in healthcare costs will be impossible without reforms to one of the largest components of health care expenditures: hospital-based care. Hospitals receive $1 out of every $3 spent on healthcare, and across the United States the projected total spend for hospital care alone in 2019 will be about $1.3 trillion.
A notable shift is that Inpatient care, which is when you actually stay overnight in the hospital for something more an observation, now makes up only slightly more than half of hospital revenue, compared with about 70 percent in 1995. Getting patients the right care at the right time in the right setting has increased the utilization of Outpatient care, or services and medical procedures or tests that can be done in a medical center without an overnight stay.
Some believe a flip from inpatient care to mostly outpatient care will continue into the future. This shift impacts all of us and will ultimately disrupt the way we, as patients, get the care that we need when we are injured or sick. Take for example joint replacement surgery which in some places is now offered in an outpatient environment.
On this episode, we are going to talk with Patrick Colletti the COO and newly named Chief Innovation Officer of Net Health, a company that creates software solutions for specialized outpatient care. Net Health serves healthcare professionals essentially all of the largest hospital chains in the US as well as private practices around the country—They support more than 3,000 facilities daily…ranging from urgent care to speech and language therapy and beyond. They are working to strengthen patient care, outcomes, and facility performance.
People from all backgrounds - - campaigners and ordinary citizens alike - - frequently cite opinion polls as if they were the gospel truth. Sometimes the poll results predict the future (like what our favorite cereal may be), and other times not so much (like who will be the next President). We have all been accepting the results of opinion polls as an indicator of public opinion for a long time…and these polls either visibly or invisibly shape policy and thereby impact how our investments in science and technology are shaped.
Are opinion polls important? What is the science behind them? Are they sophisticated analyses or back of the envelope calculations? Should we trust what they say? Can they be manipulated and misused? Is the science behind collecting and aggregating people opinions developing and becoming more accurate or are opinion polls a developed area of social science? In these days where opinion polls seem inextricably linked to what we see in targeted advertising, these questions are important but not often explored by the technology community.
More than 80 years ago, George Gallup published his first official release of public opinion data. Gallup set out to provide scientific, impartial calculations that described America’s public opinions. But, even after 80 years, people are often deeply skeptical of polls, especially when opinion moves in the “incorrect” direction or is the opposite of what they hope for.
The 2016 US presidential election raised questions about the methodology and accuracy of polls in America, but the problems of confidence in election polling aren't limited to just the U.S.. Some high-profile errors include the final polls in the 2017 British general election, in which Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party lost its parliamentary majority, had the Conservatives ahead, though their margins differed significantly. These and other “misses” have led people to ask, do polls ask the right questions? Are they manipulating the wording of questions to get the responses they want? And who are the people actually answering the questions? Are polls being swayed by the political parties, marketers and media giants that pay for the polls? Where is the science?
In the ultimate irony, an opinion poll about opinion polls, The Hill-HarrisX poll found that the majority of people are doubtful about the survey results they hear about. Maybe more troubling, however, was that 15 percent of respondents said they "almost always" believed in polls they heard about in the press. So…rather than relying on opinion polls about opinion polls, on innovation unleashed we decided to get back to a source for the ground truth!
John Dick is the CEO of CivicScience. CivicScience provides strategic insight services to decision-makers at the largest brands, media companies, and investment firms in the world. In 2007, CivicScience emerged from John’s vision that market research and opinion-gathering needed a new solution. Perhaps before the rest of us, he understood that consumer and public-oriented businesses that had long relied on traditional polling and survey techniques found those methods were growing tired and less effective in reaching a representative audience. The emergence of social media sharing brought convenience and immediacy of the public’s voice to the table, but also inherent biases and untrustworthy information. His ambitious goal was to develop a revolutionary new way to connect the real-time opinions of consumers to the decision makers who need that information every day – but to do so with renewed depth, breadth, and reliability.
How do we continue to be disruptive innovators? How do we push to the future of innovation? Demographics are not likely the first place people look to when trying to understand innovation, but there is theory and discussion that tells us that much can be learned from looking at economics through the lens of demography. Expert Richard Florida believes that geographic proximity and cultural diversity—a place’s openness to different cultures, religions, sexual orientations—also play key roles in economic growth. Richard is a world-renowned writer and journalist, having penned several global best sellers, including the award winning The Rise of the Creative Class and his most recent book, The New Urban Crisis. A 2013 MIT study named him the world’s most influential thought leader and TIME magazine has recognized his Twitter feed as one of the 140 most influential in the world. Richard says, “Every single human being is creative. The biggest challenge of the creative age is to lift the bottom up and encourage a prosperous, vibrant and sustainable community for all.”
Richard points to the work of economists Quamrul Ashraf of Williams College and Oded Galor of Brown University as further support of his theories. Their work concludes that the interplay between cultural assimilation and cultural diffusion have played a significant role in giving rise to differential patterns of economic development across the globe." To put it simply: diversity spurs economic development and homogeneity slows it down.
So, basically, more people means more ideas. A larger population will produce more ideas to feed technological progress. And, simultaneously, population only increases if there is technological development.
Our guest, Audrey Russo, is an impassioned thought leader about technology and demographics being codependent drivers of the Pittsburgh economy and the success of the technologies that are developed here.
Since 2007, Audrey Russo has served the technology business sector for southwestern PA as President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council the oldest (1983) and largest technology trade association in North America. In her role as president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council, Audrey Russo oversees an organization of 1,400 member companies and 270,000 member employees. She works to position Pittsburgh as one of the nation’s leading centers for technology, health care, advanced materials, life sciences, homeland security and financial services.
Ten years ago, Audrey wrote about the importance of demographics and poised a challenge for Pittsburgh to add 5,000 people to the region each year — net positive. While also focusing on an effort to retain 20% of Pittsburgh’s college students here year over year. She asked all Pittsburghers to take a pact to make the region a place where regional citizenship means all students are part of the fabric of all companies.
Russo is committed to the complexity of Pittsburgh’s physical, literal and metaphorical terrain, and believes that vital cities are the moral imperative in achieving competitive, diverse and vibrant economies. Let’s talk to her about this innovation and population going hand in hand.
At the beginning of each episode, I remind listeners that innovation is a team sport. Our own Andrew Carnegie once said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results."
From the time that we are young, we are organized into teams for school, fun and friendship. We are taught to “play nice,” share, and get along with others. We are grouped into small teams for learning, we participate in team sports, join scouts and join together to cheer on our favorite competing footballers and soccer stars.
We all make the assumption that good teamwork is essential for good outcomes in life. We believe that people perform well when they work together in groups because it creates a medium through which people can discuss, debate and collaborate about various issues regarding the achievement of their group goals. Working together also creates mutual understanding and a sense of belonging, which further enables commitment to the success of the entire group.
Over the past 60 years, as technological, scientific and social challenges have become more complex and scientific understanding, research and methods have advanced, researchers have increasingly combined with colleagues in collaborative research referred to as team science. At places like Carnegie Mellon University, it is common practice to work not only across the campus with collaborators, but to also reach out all over the world to find scientists that are interested in working on teams to solve big problems. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, 90 percent of all science and engineering publications are authored by two or more individuals and the size of authoring teams has grown as individual scientists, funders, and universities have sought to investigate multifaceted problems by engaging more individuals. Most articles are now written by between 6 and 10 individuals from more than one institution.
We are fortunate to be joined on this episode by a renowned expert in the study of teams and collective intelligence. Anita Woolley, is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Theory at the Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University. She has a PhD in Organizational Behavior from Harvard University, where she also earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.
Her research and teaching interests include collaborative analysis and problem solving in teams; online collaboration and collective intelligence; and managing multiple team memberships. Her research has been published in Science, Organization Science, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Small Group Research, and Research on Managing Groups and Teams, among others. Her research has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Army Research Office, and private corporations. She is a Senior Editor at Organization Science, Academy of Management Discoveries, and Small Group Research, and is a member of the Academy of Management, the Interdisciplinary Network for Group Research, and the Association for Psychological Science.
Carnegie Mellon University’s Manuela Veloso, the Herbert A. Simon University Professor describes Machine learning “as a fascinating field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) research and practice where scientists investigate how computer agents can improve their perception, cognition, and action with experience. Machine Learning is about machines improving from data, knowledge, experience, and interaction. Machine Learning utilizes a variety of techniques to intelligently handle large and complex amounts of information build upon foundations in many disciplines, including statistics, knowledge representation, planning and control, databases, causal inference, computer systems, machine vision, and natural language processing. AI agents with their core at Machine Learning aim at interacting with humans in a variety of ways, including providing estimates on phenomena, making recommendations for decisions, and being instructed and corrected. Machine Learning can impact many applications relying on all sorts of data, any data that is recorded in computers, such as health data, scientific data, financial data, location data, weather data, energy data, etc. As our society increasingly relies on digital data, Machine Learning is crucial for most of our current and future applications.”
The world is being reshaped by machine learning. Data collected through sensors and novel technologies at many scales is being leveraged to make decisions and infer relationships in every discipline and application. But it takes the right techniques and tools to do so effectively.
It is interesting that on this episode, we are joined by John Kitchin, a chemical engineering expert who is using machine learning to develop new tools to change the way that research is being conducted.
His work with machine learning focuses on creating tools such SCIMAX - - open source software that improves data sharing and efficiency in research and academia. The software uniquely integrates data processing and analysis into plain text. Dr. Kitchin is very interested in creating tools, augmenting research with data tools and teaching students about machine learning as an integrated part of the research process.
British poet W. H. Auden once noted, “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”…I am not sure about his use of the number thousands…but I am sure he was right about the water.
Our Earth is sometimes compared to a magnificent blue marble, especially by those privileged few who have been lucky enough to gaze upon it from space. This is due to the predominance of water on the Earth’s surface. I’m sure that you know that the Earth is largely covered with water. Water covers about two thirds of the Earth’s surface. Interestingly, only about five percent of that water is fresh water versus salt water…and two thirds of that tiny percentage of fresh water, 69 exists as ice. But, if you melted all that ice, and the Earth’s surface was perfectly smooth, the sea levels would rise to an altitude of 2.7 km. With the water that brings us life as we know it in such dramatically short supply, you would think that we would protect it with an immeasurable passion…but instead we ignore it with unimaginable malaise. So here is some of the bad news in shocking statistics…
The challenge we now face as we head into the future is how to effectively conserve, purify, and distribute the water we have. And to make matters worse plastics are attacking our oceans. In 1950, the world’s population of 2.5 billion produced 1.5 million tons of plastic; in 2016, a global population of more than 7 billion people produced over 320 million tons of plastic. Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans. There may now be around 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the open ocean. Weighing up to 269,000 tonnes. Recent studies have revealed marine plastic pollution in 100% of marine turtles, 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabird species examined. 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually.
And Every year, more people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war.
On this episode, we are joined by two pioneers who are working to use chemistry and technology to safely reduce/eliminate hazardous chemical contaminants and pathogens from water to protect life and make clean water more easily accessible for all humanity. Dr. Terry Collins is the Teresa Heinz Professor in Green Chemistry, Chemistry and Director, Institute for Green Science at Carnegie Mellon University and Professor Ryan Sullivan, working in both Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
Recently, INC. Magazine asked one of its contributing writers to explore the question, “what separates phenomenally successful serial entrepreneurs from the rest of us mere mortals, and what can we learn from their example?”
A few specific characteristics emerged as the underpinning to a serial entrepreneur’s mindset: optimism, a desire to keep innovating, self-reliance, an understanding that money isn’t everything, and a high pain threshold.
On this episode, our guest is a serial entrepreneur and a world-renowned inventor. He has been called a snake charmer……and has famously charmed snakes by the name of schmoopie, Uncle Sam, Betsy Ross, Pepperoni, and Monster Max - - - Mechanical robotic snakes that can explore tight spaces, swim, climb poles…. and solve big problems.
For more than 25 year’s Howie Choset has been bringing the precision of computer science and applied mathematics to the realities and uncertainties of mechanical systems. He has made globally impactful contributions in design, motion planning, path planning, and estimation. His inventions are centered on robots designed in a segmented fashion to mimic snake-like actuation and motion. They have been used in surgical applications for diagnosis and tumor removal; nuclear power plant inspection, archaeological excavations, manufacturing applications and understanding biological behaviors of a variety of animals.
Howie is a Professor of Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University where he serves as the co-director of the Biorobotics Lab and as director of the Robotics Major. He received his undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and Business from the University of Pennsylvania and his PhD from Caltech.
We talk about The Internet of Things and Big Data so much on this podcast because these two technological advancements are changing the world and affecting business practices in every industry sector. In the past, Internet of Things devices were ATM machines or mobile phones. But due to the eruption of new devices, there are now 8.4 billion connected things in use worldwide, with the average individual owning 5.1 connected devices.
Not only does the Internet of Things connect us across the globe, it also continuously collects gigantic sets of raw data from our direct environment. The analysis and use of this Big Data is the technology revolution of our times.
On this episode, we are joined in the studio by two big-thinking entrepreneurs who are proving that that they can provide the right ecosystem to manage this colossal global data. Particularly in healthcare. Joshua “Dax” Cabrera and Patrick Mulcahy formed their company MEDSiS in 2014.
MEDSiS is an international information technology company that provides a platform for Big Data management solutions. Their platform enables access, management, integration, consolidation, machine learning, sharing and distribution, analytics, and artificial general intelligence (AGI). MEDSiS supports Big Data across heterogeneous enterprise platforms, global/national/regional organizations, and governments. The MEDSiS solutions are cloud hybrid ecosystems that are designed to be mission critical and operate in environments that have volatile infrastructure such as remote and rural access locations. The MEDSiS technology is in more than 1,300 sites worldwide, coupled with technology partners. Let’s listen as they share their ideas and entrepreneurial journey with us.
Merriam Webster defines the word CYBER as relating to, or involving computers or computer networks (such as the Internet). Cybersecurity refers to a set of techniques used to protect the integrity of these networks, programs and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access. The core functionality of cybersecurity involves protecting our information and systems from major breaches in security or cyber threats. More and more, hackers are finding new ways to threaten and attack our networks and are creating and refining the tools that they use to break through the cyber defenses that are in place to protect our data, social networks and systems such as power grids, voting machines, etc.
The cyberattack on the Equifax credit reporting agency in 2017, that led to the theft of Social Security numbers, birth dates, and additional data on almost half the U.S. population, was a scary realization that hackers are targeting enormous numbers of people…..daily.
Recent news makes it clear that Russian hackers targeted voting systems in several American states before the 2016 presidential election. So many of us were shocked to realize that up to 87 million Facebook users had their personal data ending up in the hands of a voter-profiling company called Cambridge Analytica. We learned directly from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, that Facebook itself methodically scrutinizes and keeps track of the particulars of its users’ daily online lives…… details that people often readily volunteer — age, employer, relationship status, likes and location, etc. AND can learn almost anything about users by using artificial intelligence to analyze online behavior.
Lucky for all of us, there are brilliant men and women all over the world working to not only protect us now, but also predict and protect us from future threats. Right here at Carnegie Mellon University, The world-renowned CyLab Security and Privacy Institute approaches security and privacy research with a cross-disciplinary, holistic mindset. Experts here think beyond the traditional boundaries of pure engineering and computer science solutions to big problems. They look further into the human factors that make security and privacy usable as well as the economics and social sciences behind the decisions people make with technology. Just as importantly, they must understand the policy ideas that power the network safety of our private and public enterprises. They know that security and privacy affects every aspect of daily life, from a technician safeguarding the resiliency of a city’s electric grid to a small child learning to read watching videos on an iPad. This issue affects each and every one of us.
Thankfully, we talk with one of the world’s most respected leaders on this subject on today’s episode. Dr. Douglas Sicker is the Director of CMU’s Cylab Security and Privacy Institute, Department Head of Engineering and Public Policy, the Lord Endowed Chair of Engineering and Professor in the College of Engineering School of Computer Science, as well as Heinz College.
Understanding how the brain works remains one of the biggest mysteries for science to solve. There is a lot that we do not know about the brain and most of what we do know has only been discovered in the last few decades.
The people that are working to help us understand and care for the human brain are some of the most dedicated and brilliant minds in medicine. They know that the answers to critical questions in neuroscience live at the intersection between biology, cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence, computer science, data, statistics and engineering and they are working to leverage all of these areas of science to apply new applications of immersive technology to brain health.
We are excited to have one of those brilliant minds as our guest on this episode. Dr. Ali Rezai, leads the comprehensive and integrated clinical and research programs in the neurosciences at West Virginia University and WVU Medicine and is the Director of the newly formed West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute.
Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer and second leading cause of cancer related deaths for both men and women in the United States. Despite being one of the most preventable and curable cancers, approximately 150,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer annually and approximately 50,000 people die of colon cancer every year. Given these numbers, we are all driven to get colonoscopies that can find and remove the cancer precursors, or polyps. If all the polyps are removed, we presume that a tumor can never grow. So, detecting and removing polyps is the key to early diagnosis and prevention of colorectal cancer. So, imagine my surprise when our guest today taught me that somewhere around twenty percent of colon cancer diagnoses are made in people that had clean colonoscopies in the prior three years!
The numbers are staggering…approximately 15 million colonoscopies are performed in the United States each year. I know you are doing your back of the envelop calculations to let me help…that represents 75 million feet or 14,000 miles of colon being looked at each year. Finding polyps during the exam depends on the doctor’s experience, skills, attention, and the preparation condition.
Patients, who get a colonoscopy, do so with the hope and expectation of preventing the development of colon cancer within one to a few years of the colonoscopy…but colonoscopies are not perfect and in fact about 17- 48% of polyps are missed.
In this episode, we are joined by Dr. Shyam Thakkar. Dr. Thakkar is one of the physicians working tirelessly every day to make sure that doctors do not miss polyps during exams and that people do not die from Colon Cancer.
Imagine a future world where victims of spinal cord injuries can walk again, where there is no shortage of donor organs for those in need……..and where damaged and weak parts of the body are simply replaced with new ones. This is the exciting promise of regenerative medicine, an area of medicine that develops procedures to regrow, repair or replace damaged or diseased cells, organs or tissues. Regenerative medicine includes the generation and use of therapeutic stem cells, tissue engineering and the production of artificial organs. The phrase regenerative medicine has only been in our lexicon for two decades, but the concepts that drive it and the passion to harness the power of the body to heal itself have been dreamed of for millennia. Exponential growth in knowledge in the fields biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, genetics, medicine, robotics, and beyond has collided to fuel an extraordinary opportunity…to deliver on the hype surrounding the vision. Success will be defined by bringing extraordinary solutions for some of the most complex and life-threatening problems faced by humankind to the clinic.
Clinicians, scientists, engineers, lawyers, business people are all playing key roles in moving regenerative medicine forward. On this episode, we are going to talk with one of the world’s most accomplished transplant surgeons who is also a renowned regenerative medicine scientist and accomplished entrepreneur about his life, clinical career, and his entrepreneurial activities.
Dr. Paulo Fontes is recently became a Professor of Surgery and Director, Research & Innovation at West Virginia University. He is a co-founder and shareholder of 2 startup companies and the Director of the VGS Foundation, Sao Paulo, Brazil, which is a non-profit life science foundation linked to a $65M fund.
As we have touched upon, in many of our conversations, the United States health care system desperately needs reform to harness costs, improve quality and increase access. All elements of health care, including policymakers, have a role to play in transforming our system. I think everyone can agree in theory that federal policy changes are necessary to help fix this problem…..although there is lots of disagreement about what those changes should ultimately be. Such top-down solutions alone, however, cannot fix the broken system that currently exists. The broken healthcare delivery system also needs transformation from the bottom up…..by entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs - - the type of innovators that we often talk to and introduce to our listeners. So what is one of the transformative things that healthcare innovators are focused on to transform the future? Data.
Specifically, individual data. So much data.
Individual biology, health history, well-being, location, spending habits, sleep habits, eating habits….. According to Fortune Magazine, the amount of data you give off every day from things like lab tests, medical imaging genetic profiles, biopsies, electrocardiograms, to name just a few—is completely overwhelming when you start to think about it. Add medical claims, prescriptions, research, clinical trials….and you end up with 750 quadrillion bytes of data every day—or some 30% of the world’s data production. These massive storehouses of information have always been around. However, until three-to-five years ago, all that data was just sitting there. Now it is being analyzed and interpreted. According to Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, “It’s the most radical change happening in health care.”
On this episode we are fortunate to be joined by Dr. Rasu Shrestha, one of the world’s foremost experts that understands this and the additional radical changes and trends that are driving the healthcare future forward.
As consumers continue to take a more active role in managing their health, clinical healthcare and consumer health will converge. As we have discussed many times, this convergence provides a tremendous opportunity for technology to play a role in data-enabled healthcare delivery, while also supporting the shift from hospital care and acute reactive care to more proactive home patient-driven care.
Large global healthcare companies are transforming themselves to deliver new technology and innovation directly to patients to help them manage their health and to support care providers in delivering care effectively.
Philips, strives to make the world healthier and more sustainable through adoption of innovation. Their goal is to improve the lives of 3 billion people a year by 2025. An ambitious global goal, indeed. Philips has been striving to create solutions for a long time. For more than a century, Philips has been driving the development of innovative products and entrepreneurial opportunity. Starting with making electric incandescent light bulbs in 1891.
Over all of this time, Philips has remained fully committed to innovation. Our guest Bill Gaussa sits at the nexus of that commitment. Bill is the Head of Advance Innovation for Philips Healthcare and is located right here in Pittsburgh, PA. He is responsible for delivering diverse solutions (product/services, B2B/B2C) to accelerate growth of the core Philips Business Groups. Bill Leads a team of product managers, engineers, researchers and program managers to bring impactful ideas to first market launch. Recently, Bill was part of the leadership team that launched the Pittsburgh Innovation Center to work in close proximity to hospitals, universities, and start-ups to enable them to incubate regional research partnerships and, ultimately, accelerate their ability to develop new solutions to drive the future of health technology.
When we reflect on the many ways that technology has made our everyday lives easier, more efficient, more interesting, more comfortable and more enjoyable, it is likely difficult to pinpoint one specific thing that each of us would agree is the “most important” discovery of our lifetime. It would be hard to dispute, however, the rationale that the invention of the transistor is one of, if not the most important invention of the 20th century. Merriam Webster defines a transistor as a solid-state electronic device that is used to control the flow of electricity in electronic equipment and usually consists of a small block of a semiconductor with at least three electrodes. The invention of the transistor in 1947 propelled the world in an entirely new direction and was at the center of the global technology boom and began the information age. Because they can be mass-produced by the millions on a sliver of silicon or the semiconductor chip, transistors have fueled the development of many diverse devices like hearing aids, video cameras, cellular phones, copy machines, jumbo jets, modern cars, manufacturing components, and video games….and so much more. Without the invention of the transistor we would have no Internet, no broadcast communication and no space travel.
Today, 10 million transistors can be placed on the head of a pin! Consider this: the typical smartphone contains around 85 billion transistors!
According to Forbes Magazine, in 2014, semiconductor production facilities made some 250 billion billion (250 x 1018) transistors. Every second of that year, on average, 8 trillion transistors were produced. That figure is about 25 times the number of stars in the Milky Way and some 75 times the number of galaxies in the known universe.
We are fortunate to have Dr. Susan Fullerton from the University of Pittsburgh with us. She is working to find alternative materials and device concepts to push our current electronics to become even smaller and require less and less energy to work.
Every now and again as we walk through the journey of life we come across people who we know will have an impact on our trajectory. Whether we are inspired by an innovator, humbled by a leader or angered by an imposter…we know that the energy of the interaction cannot be ignored. Being innovative or disruptive means carving a path out of the long grass. Reflecting on the so-called innovation “Valley of Death” that separates great ideas from their impact on society…harkens recollection about the real Valley of Death. That hot desert in the western united states that separated pioneers from their future. The pioneers, of course, crossed the Valley…Innovators of today could learn a lot by reminding ourselves about how those leaders crossed the Valley of Death…they focused on crossing at the narrowest point…. they loaded just a few wagons with maximal resources, they traveled with friends and they built an infrastructure behind them so that the people behind could follow in their footsteps. Therefore, our hunt for innovative friends with whom we can master serendipity is at the heart of success when developing novel technologies that unlock the future.
Some of the most creative and innovative people that I know have built their careers on a foundation of service to their country. The US military medicine community has pioneered quietly…the savagery of war is inexorably coupled to a yearning to heal. It is no surprise that the discovery and manufacturing of penicillin was driven by necessity in conflict. More recently, devastating wars in the Middle East led to real advances in how to stop blood loss and regenerate tissues. Scarless wound healing, advanced prosthetics, advanced prostrate and ovarian cancer therapeutics and robotic surgery have all been front and center in the war to maintain health. The dedicated community of innovators who orchestrate these advances is rarely recognized...but they should be! Of course, very few people follow a predicted path, especially when building a career on a military medicine foundation. These are people who have had dozens of challenges in remarkable and unique places…and the themes that connect their experiences are simply servant leadership and innovation.
Our guest today, Dr. Christian Macedonia, is typical of the silent innovation warriors that have done so much.
According to the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, “a world infused with new technologies demands courageous, imaginative policy solutions that will both harness technology’s tremendous potential for good and mitigate the displacement effects of rapid change. This is one of the greatest policy challenges of our generation, and one of the biggest gaps in the prospectus across the political spectrum.”
This may seem impossible as we sit in the middle of an America that is bitterly divided. Partisans see people with differing opinions as the enemy. Opposite sides have dug in for an unrelenting winner-takes-all debate to the point of everyone ending up a loser.
Today’s guest, Jason Altmire, has stood at the center of this partisan debate. Literally…exactly in the center. A former three-term member of Congress, Jason Altmire is uniquely qualified to offer solutions to the polarization that has paralyzed Washington. A respected political moderate known for working with both sides of the aisle.
Jason Altmire served in the United States House of Representatives from 2007 to 2013. Because of his ability to bridge both sides of the aisle, Jason had 29 of his legislative initiatives signed into law, went five and a half years without missing a single vote, and introduced a bipartisan bill that gained the most cosponsors of any congressional bill in American history. During his time in office, the nonpartisan National Journal calculated Altmire's voting record to be at the exact midpoint of the House -- the Dead Center -- giving him the most centrist voting record in Congress.
According to the National Institutes of Health, a genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism. In us, a copy of the entire genome—more than 3 billion DNA base pairs—is contained in all cells that have a nucleus. Each human cell has around 6 feet of DNA. Let's say each human has around 10 trillion cells (this is actually a low ball estimate). This would mean that each person has around 60 trillion feet or around 10 billion miles of DNA inside of them. The Earth is about 93 million miles away from the sun.
And as we head toward 10 billion people on the planet, that is a lot of DNA.
According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, the genomes of any two people are more than 99% the same. That tiny fraction of the genome that varies from person to person is very important. The variations of our DNA are part of what makes each of us distinctive and unique. These variations affect the color of a person’s eyes, hair and skin. Importantly, they also influence a person’s risk of disease and response to medicine. Visionary scientists are unravelling our genetic information so that they can personalize how we are treated. Dr. Dietrich Stephan, our guest on this episode, has been at the forefront of personalized medicine through genetic laser guidance, for decades. He is a human geneticist and entrepreneur. In December 2017, the University of Pittsburgh announced the launch of LifeX™, an initiative that will provide expertise, capital and working space to new companies addressing the most complex challenges facing modern medicine. The organization will be headed by Dietrich Stephan, PhD, Professor and chairman of the Department of Human Genetics. Let’s listen as he shares his views on personalizing medicine to cure disease and keep people well.
Health XL Global Gatherings showcase innovation on a global platform by bringing together people with ideas, resources and desire to contribute to the evolution of healthcare. Health XL brings together the leaders and innovators of the world’s most disruptive technology companies to share stories and insights at small intimate gatherings meant to spark innovation and build meaningful collaboration to solve global healthcare problems. Over the past number of years, Health XL has brought together key players from across the digital health ecosystem from pharma, payers, providers, tech and leading entrepreneurs. 100 of these digital health thought leaders joined our hosts at Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center to discuss AI, big data, precision medicine, consumer empowerment and engagement and wellness. Listen as Alan Russell and Lynn Banaszak conduct “elevator interviews” with some of the attendees and talk about the “what’s next” in healthcare delivery.
The human respiratory system is made up of your nose, sinuses, mouth, throat, voice box, windpipe, lungs, diaphragm and blood vessels. Breathing is the process of inhaling and exhaling. When you inhale, you bring oxygen-rich air into your body. When you exhale, you release carbon dioxide into the air from your body. Each of us breathes about 25,000 times during a regular day. If you are healthy, this process is easy. But for the millions of people with long-term respiratory diseases, breathing is not that simple. If you have ever suffered from a cold or allergies, you have experienced what it feels like to have trouble breathing. Imagine if every breathe for the rest of your life was this difficult?
The lung is a magnificent organ built of a complex tree of airways that are, in an average person, 44 miles long and serve to ventilate 300 to 500 million air sacs or alveoli, with a total surface area nearly the size of a tennis court. This surface is covered by a dense mesh of blood capillaries of total length of about 3,000 miles. About 85 percent of the alveolar surface is in contact with blood across a tissue barrier 50 times thinner than a sheet of onion skin paper, which allows a very efficient uptake of oxygen.
Around 12 million people have chronic lung disease in the United States alone, but less than 2,000 people will be able to receive transplants because the need for transplant organs far outnumbers the supply of available organs. As a result, nearly 200,000 people die from chronic lung disease every year.
For more than 20 years, guest Dr. Keith Cook, and other researchers have worked on artificial temporary lungs that support patients in need of a lung transplant who are placed on a waiting list. These devices typically last days to a couple of weeks before failure and require patients to be closely monitored in a hospital.
There are 100,000 miles of blood vessels in an adult human body! Imagine that…if you stretched out all of someone’s blood vessels end to end they would go around the world three times!! Blood vessels, that we call the vasculature, go everywhere and are involved in issues large and small. They protect the brain, feed tumors and cause the famous brain freeze for those of us who like to eat ice cream!! Any real problem along this vast network can cause severe pain, disability and death.
The most common vascular diseases are stroke, peripheral artery disease (PAD), abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), carotid artery disease (CAD), arteriovenous malformation (AVM), critical limb ischemia (CLI), pulmonary embolism (blood clots), deep vein thrombosis (DVT), chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), and varicose veins. PAD alone affects 8.5 million people. It can occur in anyone at any time; affecting men and women equally.
In this episode, we are very fortunate to have one of the world’s most respected and accomplished vascular researchers. Dr. Mark Gladwin is Chair, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Director of the Pittsburgh Heart, Lung, Blood, and Vascular Medicine Institute (VMI) and Co-director/researcher at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute (HVI). In addition to our discussion about treating disease with novel technological solutions, Dr. Gladwin will talk about his research and exciting discovery regarding the creation of the only known potential antidote for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Most of us think of casinos or James Bond when we hear about Monte Carlo. But to today’s guest, Monte Carlo makes him think about algorithms. Monte Carlo simulations use random sampling to produce a distribution of results from which we can draw conclusions. These computational science techniques help us answer some of the world’s toughest challenges at the atomic level.
Obviously, computational Science is an exponentially-growing multidisciplinary field that uses advanced computing capabilities to understand and solve big, complex problems. It is an area of science which spans many disciplines, but at its core it involves the development of mathematical models and simulations to understand natural systems. Think about the way that we predict the weather. In order to predict the weather, scientists run a simulation many times over, randomly choosing atmospheric data and then looking at common themes across those simulations to generate an idea of what weather is most likely for a given area. When we hear meteorologists say, “We have a 60% chance of rain today", they are really saying, "60% of our simulations predict rain today.” If we elevate our thinking from mundane rain clouds to simulations of material properties, things get interesting.
According to our guest, Chris Wilmer, thanks to computational science techniques, the beginning of the 21st century has seen an explosion in the design of porous materials for a wide range of applications, from gas storage and chemical separations, to sensing and light harvesting. In this episode, Dr. Chris Wilmer describes how he designs atomically engineered materials through the application of modern computing infrastructure, thereby developing material discovery algorithms. Using this platform, he creates millions of hypothetical structures, stores these structures in databases, and then uses high-performance computing to rapidly simulate their properties. He can then validate the performance of materials through an automated workflow, providing a powerful prediction-meets-data feedback loop.
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, has been around since the early 1980’s. A 3-dimensional, physical printed object is created by using additive processes. In an additive process, an object is formed by laying down continuous layers of material until the object is created.
In television like the popular show “Westworld” viewers have been introduced to humanoid robots that are 3D printed. While creating an entire human being may sound extremely futuristic, the technology to print human body parts already exists and could become a standard practice in the years to come. Researchers are working tirelessly to create body parts and artificial organs meant to replace, or even enhance our human machinery.
This episode features one of those world-renowned researchers. Dr. David Gracias is from the departments of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. His fascinating and amazing work is focused on the ability to three-dimensionally interweave biological tissue with functional electronics so that we may enable the creation of bionic organs possessing enhanced functionalities over our current human counterparts. Dr. Gracias was part of the team that used 3-D printing of cartilage cells and nanomaterials to create functional ears that receive radio signals. They used a computer-aided design (CAD) drawing of a human right ear as a blueprint for the printing and then used three components as the printer “inks”: cartilage cells in a hydrogel matrix, structural silicone, and silicone infused with silver nanoparticles. The ear was built layer by layer with an ordinary 3-D printer, with the silver-infused “ink” formed a coiled antenna.