Innovation Unleashed Podcast Episodes
Innovation and technology excite us, uplift us and pave the pathway from hype to hope. In the extraordinary tapestry that is our lives, the innovation and technology threads are some of the boldest colors. The development of new ideas that change the world is sometimes shrouded in mystery.
On Innovation Unleashed we are pulling back the curtain and allowing our listeners to view things from the inside out by meeting the players making a difference and doing amazing work.
Health XL and Elemental Machines - Sridhar Iyengar
Digital health is the convergence of the digital and genomic revolutions with health, healthcare, living, and society. Digital health is empowering people to better track, manage, and improve their own and their family's health, live better, more productive lives and improve society. Lofty goals indeed…but what is the reality of where we are, where we are heading and how fast we will get there?
Uber, Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Vehicles - Eric Meyhofer
The merging of our lives with computers has taken place at a pace that is hard to grasp. It has happened so quickly and so pervasively that we think nothing is strange or new about computers being used to listen to our questions and answer them, or store critical information. Computers drive much of medicine today, they drive our financial and educational systems and our ability to communicate. Computers and engineering together are even now helping us drive our cars and soon they will do so alone. Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning and Big Data are now part of our lexicon. Are computers becoming smarter than humans? Is that a good thing?
Aging, Technology and Living More - Vonda Wright
There is a myth in this country that aging is an inevitable decline from Vitality to Frailty. It's not true. We can live healthy, active, and joyful lives until our very last days....if we choose to. We are in charge of our health and well-being. A recent study conducted by a team at Harvard Medical School calculated that 20 to 40 percent of cancer cases and half of cancer deaths could be prevented if people quit smoking, avoided heavy drinking, kept a healthy weight and got just a half hour a day of moderate exercise.
Explore the ways that we can use technology to drive personal change, live more and create a better life.
Spray-on Skin, Made-to-Order Muscle and 3-D Printed Organs - Steve Badylak
Spray-on skin, made-to-order muscle and 3-D printed organs aren't just science fiction anymore.
About 120,000 people in the United States are currently waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. Every ten minutes, someone is added to the national transplant waiting list. On average, 22 people die each day while waiting for a transplant. Regenerative medicine is a game-changing area of medicine with the potential to grow and fully heal damaged tissues and organs, offering solutions and hope for people who have conditions that are currently beyond repair.
In the age of what people are calling, Personalized Healthcare - - science and engineering is being united to provide the right treatment to the right person at the right time. Under the umbrella of Personalized Healthcare people also talk about Personalized Medicine which typically refers specifically to the use of genetics and genomics to help treat and cure disease. What does all of this actually mean today to a person who is trying to prevent, treat or battle a disease?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just take a pill and wouldn’t have to do anything else to control and alleviate disease? Technology drives so many solutions to problems but the human body is a difficult place to master, even for technology-enhanced medicine. Many drugs that we take have to enter our bloodstream, then bypass our immune system and finally arrive at a precise location within a targeted cell. It takes the brightest minds in science, medicine and research to tackle this process and to come up with novel way to develop the drugs of tomorrow. Meet Katie Whitehead. One of Popular Science’s 2015 Brilliant Ten.
Innovators That Value Innovation - Lynn Banaszak
The business of innovation requires leaders that understand that new ideas and implementation of those ideas can’t end and begin with them. They understand that they must bring others along on the journey, helping to get them to think in new ways. They understand that they must invest in ideas and take risk. By doing so, they can build an entire movement and ecosystem of forward-thinkers and innovative ideas. Dr. Alan Russell and Lynn Banaszak have been working to create an ecosystem of innovation for decades. Let’s listen as they discuss their path to innovation.
How Healthcare Companies Focus on Patients: J & J - Alexander Grunewald
In this week’s episode Innovation Unleashed heads back to the Health XL Global Gathering to talk with world leaders about improving patient outcomes, enhancing wellness of healthy consumers, driving R&D operational advances, and exploring digital therapeutics and genomics. Alexander Grunewald, Global Head of HealthTech Business Development at Johnson & Johnson shares his perspective about innovation being the lifeblood in pharma and the way that patient outcomes lead all of their efforts to bring the right healthcare solutions to market.
Home Hospital: Right Care, Right Place, Right Time - David Levine
In this week’s episode, Lynn Banaszak continues her conversations with world leaders about improving patient outcomes, enhancing wellness of healthy consumers, exploring digital therapeutics and new care delivery tools. While on location at the Health XL Global Gathering, she talked with Dr. David Levine, a general internist and research fellow in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School about his Home Hospital research. Instead of admitting patients to the hospital, he “admits” them back home. He also shares some of his other interests in the quality of outpatient care, digital health tech and novel approaches of care delivery.
The Mystery of the Human Brain - Donald Whiting
According to the Society of Neuroscience, the average human brain has about 90 billion neurons that make 100 trillion connections or synapses. Scientists believe this astounding number of neurons is accountable for the traits that make us uniquely human: our thoughts, memories and emotions. Recent technological advances have made the brain accessible in a way that previous generations of scientists could only dream about. And yet the brain is still a mystery. On this episode of Innovation Unleashed, we will talk with Dr. Donald Whiting, Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery for Allegheny Health Network and is Director of the Allegheny General Hospital’s nationally recognized Center for Spasticity and Movement Disorders and Division of Neuromodulation and one of just a handful of renowned specialists in the country who are helping study and pioneer the use of Deep Brain Stimulation for treating conditions other than movement disorders, including obesity and obsessive compulsive disorder. Dr. Whiting will also discuss novel techniques and technologies to better image the spine and provide more personalized care strategies for patients with back and neck injuries.
Collaborating to Fix Wicked Healthcare Problems - Axel Heitmueller
Healthcare systems around the world are struggling with increased costs and inconsistent quality while trying to provide improved value for patients. In most health care settings in today’s existing system, no one entity is accountable for improving the combination of patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction); for improving the health of populations; and for reducing the per capita cost of health care. For the health of our communities, for the health of our school systems, and for the health of all patients, companies, providers and payers must collaborate to test new models of care for the broadest adoption of best practices and effective innovations and healthcare technologies.
On this episode of Innovation Unleashed, Dr. Axel Heitmueller, Managing Director of Imperial College Health Partners in the United Kingdom will discuss the way that they work to enable the discovery and adoption of emerging innovations in healthcare; support the adoption and diffusion of existing best practice and innovation so that patients benefit more quickly; and create an innovation-friendly culture and marketplace, strengthening its capacity to partner with academia and industry.
The delivery of healthcare, particularly in the in-patient setting, is facing rising costs and a lack of robust quality measures. Patients suffer from preventable errors, accidents such as patient-falls continue to occur and infections/environmental hazards complicate patient recovery. These problems plague American Healthcare even as diligent, skilled and passionate clinicians work to help patients and deliver the best care at the right time for the best price.Today, our episode will be held in front of a Carnegie Mellon University audience of researchers, staff and students who are participating in a fireside chat with Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, President and CEO of Allegheny General Hospital.
The delivery of healthcare, particularly in the in-patient setting, is facing rising costs and a lack of robust quality measures. Patients suffer from preventable errors, accidents such as patient-falls continue to occur and infections/environmental hazards complicate patient recovery. These problems plague American Healthcare even as diligent, skilled and passionate clinicians work to help patients and deliver the best care at the right time for the best price. Listen in as we continue part two of our three-episode discussion in front of a Carnegie Mellon University audience of researchers, staff and students who are participating in a fireside chat with Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, President and CEO of Allegheny General Hospital.
The delivery of healthcare, particularly in the in-patient setting, is facing rising costs and a lack of robust quality measures. Patients suffer from preventable errors, accidents such as patient-falls continue to occur and infections/environmental hazards complicate patient recovery. These problems plague American Healthcare even as diligent, skilled and passionate clinicians work to help patients and deliver the best care at the right time for the best price. Listen in as we conclude our three-episode discussion in front of a Carnegie Mellon University audience of researchers, staff and students who are participating in a fireside chat with Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, President and CEO of Allegheny General Hospital.
Pediatricians are realizing that tech tools such as wearable devices can help form a communication bridge to reluctant patients. Juan Espinoza, MD, FAAP, Attending Physician and Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and the Keck School of Medicine of USC believes that using tech tools and medium (such as social media) that young patients are familiar with or excited about is potentially the way to better care and improved outcomes, especially for those who have been traditionally resistant to treatment.
The Institute of Medicine estimates that diagnostic errors affect 12 million Americans every year. More accurate and efficient tools for doctors to better handle and analyze data could greatly reduce that number. Every time a doctor sees a patient, they are solving a complex data problem. The goal of each case is to arrive at an optimal diagnostic decision based on many forms of clinical data. Let’s listen as Kevin Lyman from Enlitic talks about how his history as a championship gamer and toy designer has led him to using deep learning to find medical insights from billions of clinical cases that will help doctors handle patient data more efficiently and successfully. Ultimately bringing better care and outcomes to millions of patients.
According to IBM, every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data as coming from everywhere: things like sensors used to gather weather data, social media posts, all of the digital pictures and videos people create, sales and transaction receipts, and smart phone GPS location tracking data. This can all be described as BIG data. So how is big data affecting healthcare and how can insights from big data change and innovate the delivery of healthcare? First, we must realize that characteristics of data in healthcare are distinctive. Healthcare data is not easily harnessed. Meet Richard Clarke. One of the thought leaders working to make healthcare data work to improve our health and wellness.
The Engine of Life - Gerald Buckberg
It beats 80 times a minute, about 115,000 times in one day or 42 million times in a year. It pumps five or six quarts each minute, or about 2,000 gallons per day. During a typical lifetime, it will beat more than 3 billion times -- pumping an amount of blood through the body that equals about 1 million barrels. If that was oil, it would supply your house with power till the year 84,000…or let you drive a Toyota Prius to the Sun and back 34 times. Of course, we are not talking about pumping oil but the human heart pumping blood. The human heart is a fist-sized powerhouse that acts as the engine of life; pumping blood through the body’s system of blood. In addition to transporting fresh oxygen from the lungs and necessary nutrients to the body's tissues, blood also pulls the body's waste products, like carbon dioxide, away from the tissues. A necessity to sustain a heathy life.
Nearly every family will experience the effects of Cardiovascular Disease. Congestive heart failure alone touches 5 million people in the U.S., it’s devastating effects reducing the quality of a person’s life and leading to early mortality. On this episode, we talk to, Dr. Gerald Buckberg, one of the world’s foremost experts on battling heart disease and fixing the human heart.
Eat This! Ingesting the Future of Medicine - Chris Bettinger
Ingestible electronic devices have the potential to obviate many of the challenges associated with chronic implants such as risk of infection, chronic inflammation, and costly surgical procedures. Examples of ingestible electronics not only include edible cameras, but also ingestible event monitors, and integrated smart drug delivery systems. Today, scientists are working on a variety of new non-toxic, biologically friendly ingestible electronics that can be ingested and implanted in the body. These medical devices, made from materials that are naturally produced in the body, can be programmed to deliver medicines, perform lifesaving activities from inside the body and also report back information from a disease site or problem area in a patient. These edible electronics also need a power source that is biocompatible or biodegradable. In this episode, Dr. Chris Bettinger, one of the world’s leading experts on ingestible devices will discuss all of the exciting possibilities of edible electronics.
Novel Way to Effectively Treat Parkinson’s Disease - Aryn Gittis
Please join us as Dr. Aryn Gittis, associate professor in Biological Sciences and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition at Carnegie Mellon University, discusses the neural circuitry of the basal ganglia, a brain system involved in movement, learning, motivation, and reward. Dysfunction of neural circuits in the basal ganglia is thought to play a role in neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Tourette syndrome, and dystonia, as well as many neuropsychiatric disorders, including anxiety, OCD, and addiction. Dr. Gittis will explain her novel approach to effectively treating Parkinson’s disease by controlling the interaction among brain cells (neurons) in the basal ganglia. In normal function, neurons talk to each other to create normal function. When neurons stop talking to one another, the pattern changes and causes the shaking that we see in Parkinson’s.
Currently, the therapeutic effects of standard, high frequency Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) (Episode - The Mystery of The Human Brian) controls the debilitating motor symptoms of patients with Parkinson’s disease but rapidly decays once the stimulation is turned off. Dr. Gittis is working to develop therapy that extends the effects of DBS for patients with Parkinson’s disease to have ongoing, uninterrupted relief.
Controlling Light to Help Humans See “Better" - Srinivasa Narasimhan
The human eye has more than 2 million working parts. It is capable of seeing at a resolution of 576 megapixels. Corneas are the only tissues in the body that do not require blood. Our eyes can process 36,000 bits of information an hour and blink 10,000 times a day.300 million times in a lifetime. Under the right conditions, the human eye can see the light of a candle at a distance of 14 miles and can see 2.7 million different colors. The eye has about 12 million photo receptors (light-sensitive cells).The retina contains 130 million rods for night vision and 7 million color-sensitive cones for day vision…..And as magnificent and complex as the human eye is; without light, there would be no sight. The eye is a processor of light. The visual ability of humans is the result of the complex interaction of light, eyes and brain. We are able to see because light from an object can move through space and reach our eyes. Once light reaches our eyes, signals are sent to our brain and our brain interprets the information in order to detect the appearance, location and movement of the objects we are seeing. A team of researchers at the Illumination and Imaging Lab at Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute, led by Srinivasa Narasimhan have been doing fascinating, game-changing research dedicated to the study of light transport and the development of novel illumination and imaging technologies that will help humans “see” better. Let us listen.
SolePower is the Future - Hahna Alexander
The integration of data analytics and digital disruption is remaking the world when it comes to financial, industrial, healthcare and even political markets. According to General Electric, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), also known as the Industrial Internet, brings together brilliant machines, advanced data analytics, and people at work. It’s the network of a multitude of devices connected by communications technologies that results in systems that can monitor, collect, exchange, analyze, and deliver valuable new insights like never before. These insights can then help drive smarter, faster business decisions for industrial companies. One way to think about it is to think of the Industrial Internet as connecting machines and devices in industries where there is a lot at stake or where system failures and unplanned interruptions can result in life-threatening or high-risk situations. In this episode we introduce you to CEO, Hahna Alexander of SOLEPOWER. Hahna hopes to grab some of that huge market potential with a novel approach to driving productivity across industries.
Innocent or Guilty? - Cybergenetics
Over the past decades, we have seen great developments and continued evolution for a powerful criminal justice tool. Deoxyribonucleic Acid, or DNA. DNA has become a tool that is used to identify criminals with incredible accuracy when biological evidence is available. DNA can also be used to eliminate suspects and absolve people mistakenly accused of or convicted of crimes. DNA technology is increasingly vital and reliable to ensuring accuracy and fairness in the criminal justice system.
In cases where a suspect has not yet been identified, biological evidence from the crime scene can be analyzed and compared to offender profiles in DNA databases to help identify the offender. Crime scene evidence can also be linked to other crime scenes using DNA databases. The founders of Cybergenetics use computers to automate the interpretation of DNA data for medical diagnosis, gene discovery, solving crimes, freeing the innocent and prosecuting the guilty.
It's Not Easy Being Green. - Eric Beckman
Thirty-five years ago, it was odd to use the words “green” and “chemistry” in the same sentence. Today, although Green Chemistry is an accepted discipline, we are still at the beginning of a growing movement to rethink how chemistry & engineering are carried out, in order to be truly sustainable and to improve lives.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation of hazardous substances. EPA's efforts to speed the adoption of this revolutionary and diverse discipline have led to real change and anyone that cares about the air their neighbors breathe and the water their friends and family drink should hope that this work continues. There is an innate connection between a passion for sustainability and a passion for health…the two really are inherently connected and it should surprise no one that some of the world’s most creative green chemists have also drifted into what one might term “health engineering.” In this episode, we have the distinct honor and privilege to talk to one of the champions and fathers of green chemical engineering, Dr. Eric Beckman.
Living to be 1000: Aging is a Curable Disease - Aubrey De Grey
Dr. De Grey is a biomedical gerontologist who researched the idea for and founded SENS Research Foundation. SENS Research Foundation is a public charity that is transforming the way the world researches and treats age-related disease.
SENS asserts that two thirds of all deaths worldwide, and about 90% of all deaths in the developed world, are from causes that only rarely kill young adults. If we look at the entire world, then the number of deaths that occur each day is roughly 150,000 and about two-thirds of them are because of aging. These causes include Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, Type II diabetes and most cancers. They are age-related because they are expressions of the later stages of aging, occurring when the molecular and cellular damage that has accumulated in the body throughout life exceeds the level that metabolism can tolerate.
Before it kills us, aging, imposes on most elderly people, a long period of decline, debilitation and disease. For these reasons, aging is unarguably the most prevalent medically-relevant phenomenon in the modern world and the primary ultimate target of biomedical research.
In this episode, we have the distinct honor and privilege to talk to one of the world’s foremost experts on aging and learn about his assertion that the first human beings who will live to be 1,000 years old have already been born.
Printing Replacement Organs and Body Parts - David Gracias
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.
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.
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.
Creating Artificial Lungs - Keith Cook
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.
Health XL in Pittsburgh - Special Episode
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. Conversations include: Michelle Templin,VP Strategic Business Development at Managed Health Care Associates, Inc., Brian Holzer, MD, CEO, Lacuna Health- A Kindred Healthcare Company, Jeremy Guttman, CEO, Behaivior, Bill Sims, VP of Sales, Datica and Chandana Fitzgerald, Chief Medical Officer, Health XL.
10 Trillion Cells and 10 Billion Miles of DNA - Dietrich Stephan
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.
Dead Center. - Jason Altmire
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.
Warrior of Innovation - Christian Macedonia
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 on this episode, Dr. Christian Macedonia, is typical of the silent innovation warriors that have done so much.
Tiny Electronics - Susan Fullerton
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.
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.
The What’s Next in Healthcare - Rasu Shrestha
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.
The Promise of Regenerative Medicine - Paulo Fontes
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.
Using Artificial Intelligence to Fight Colon Cancer - Shyam Thakkar
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. 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.
Studying the Brilliant Brain - Ali Rezai
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.
No one knows for sure, but the latest estimate is that our brains contain roughly 86 billion brain cells.
Each neuron in your brain can transmit 1,000 nerve impulses per second and make as many as tens of thousands of synaptic contacts with other neurons.
Brain information travels up to an impressive 268 miles per hour. This is faster than Formula 1 racecars, which top out at 240 mph.
Your brain generates about 12-25 watts of electricity. This is enough to power a low-wattage LED light.
There is a reason the brain has been called a “random thought generator.” The average brain is believed to generate up to 50,000 thoughts per day.
Every minute, about a liter of blood flows through the brain. This is enough to fill a bottle of wine or liter bottle of soda.
Your brain can process an image that your eyes have seen for as little as 13 milliseconds — less time than it takes for you to blink.
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.
Under Attack - Douglas Sicker
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.
Mission Critical Platform - Dax Cabera and Patrick Mulcahy
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.
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.
Saving Our World's Water From Our Own Destruction - Terry Collins and Ryan Sullivan
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 Mississippi River carries an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution into the Gulf of Mexico each year, creating a “dead zone” in the Gulf each summer about the size of New Jersey.
Approximately 40% of the lakes in America are too polluted for fishing, aquatic life, or swimming.
Each year 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, storm water, and industrial waste are dumped into US water.
Every day, 2 million tons of sewage and industrial and agricultural waste are discharged into the world’s water, the equivalent of the weight of the entire human population of 6.8 billion people.
About 10% of America’s beaches fail to meet the federal benchmark for what constitutes safe swimming water.
By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity, with two-thirds of the world's population living in water-stressed regions as a result of use, growth, and climate change.
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.
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.
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.
More People. More Big Ideas. - Audrey Russo
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.
Survey Says. - John Dick
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. John has spent most of his career as an entrepreneur with a particular focus on new business formation, business development, marketing and communications.
Interestingly, John is also the lead singer of Moscow Mule, a hard rock cover band, and winner of the esteemed Jefferson Award for their philanthropic activities…so let’s get to work and make some music!
Patients First. - Patrick Colletti
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.
Tummlers Help Create Successful Innovation Communities - Kit Mueller
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.
Using DNA to Treat Genetic Diseases - Scott Sneddon
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).
With global population on track to reach 10 billion within a few decades, and with travel and trade steadily intensifying across the world, the spread of many types of infectious disease (like the Flu and worse) is a real and increasing threat to global health.
Rapidly detecting, reporting, and responding to infectious disease occurrence is required to contain small outbreaks before they have the opportunity to spread into a regional epidemic or become a global pandemic threat. The Flu is the most likely infectious disease to cause a severe pandemic. The chances of a devastating outbreak may seem slim, but the level of devastation if it occurred is almost unimaginable. Every year there is about a 1% chance that an influenza pandemic could emerge…and that if it did it would cause more than 6 million pneumonia and influenza deaths globally. Flu pandemics have happened before…we are just waiting for the next one to arrive. But fortunately, some innovators are solidly focused on how to detect the problem so that the impact could be controlled.
Our safety and the rapid detection of infectious disease depends on effective disease surveillance systems gathering data from multiple sources and places. Equally important is how fast a system can detect a threat of disease to prompt earlier response and the best chances for protecting all of us from the spread of illness and potential death.
On this episode, Kevin Hutchinson, will share how he has spent his career gathering and analyzing data and working alongside health organizations to monitor and identify possible health threats.
The Science of Trusted Leadership on Good Days and in Bad Times - Jessica Foster
It is an understandably frightening time for all of us because nothing like this has happened in our lifetime.
The measures we are taking are unprecedented in recent history - -hospitals are overwhelmed, businesses are being categorized as life-sustaining/essential businesses or non-essential businesses, people are quarantined, schools are closed, sports teams aren’t playing, vacations are canceled, family gatherings rescheduled. Businesses and individuals are being faced with the decision to weigh risk based on personal harm and the greater good.
It is a time where we need trusted leadership. Yet at a time when we need to have trust we don’t. The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that despite a strong global economy and near full employment before the pandemic, none of the four societal institutions that the study measures—government, business, NGOs and media—is trusted. Government, more than any institution, is seen as least fair; 57 percent of the general population say government serves the interest of only the few, while only 30 percent say government serves the interests of everyone. Edelman explains that the cause of this paradox can be found in people’s fears about the future and their role in it, which are a wake-up call for our institutions to embrace a new way of effectively building trust: balancing competence with ethical behavior.
The guest on today’s episode is Dr. Jessica Foster. She’s a Partner with RHR International and serves as Global Leader for the company’s Executive Bench practice area. She is an expert at recognizing, developing and positioning executives for leadership roles.
Jessica is an industrial psychologist and previously served as a professor of industrial and organizational psychology at Purdue University. Her research, teaching, and speaking engagements are focused in the areas of employment testing, gender and leadership, executive performance and emotional regulation, and work-life balance. Jessica received her doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology from Rice University in Houston, and she holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Davidson College in North Carolina.
On the Front Line Assessing and Fighting Disease Outbreaks - Kristen Finne
Just before the CIVID-19 pandemic paralyzed the world, Innovation Unleashed had the opportunity to sit down with Kristen Finne, the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services, emPOWER Program in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. At that time, we were not yet talking about this specific disease outbreak but we were talking about Kristen’s work as one of the dedicated public servants who work around the clock to ensure that, for example, our health care system can respond to a sudden tidal wave of need. Preparing for how such events might impact the old, frail, and disabled communities. She is one of the people that we rely on in an emergency, but who we hope we never need.
The relevancy of what was discussed with Kristen, on that day, has certainly taken on new meaning and significance for all of us as we are sheltered at home deciding about the right timing for returning to work and life with COVID-19 as part of our new normal.
Health officials, health care providers, emergency managers, and first responders have always worried that they did not have access to enough accurate information that could help them respond to the needs of at-risk populations in their communities. So, just a few years ago in the US the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response was established by the Federal Government to make sure we were ready. The emPOWER Program was launched to get the data to the right people at the right time. And we are talking about a lot of data and the skills to understand what it means before and after a disaster. Public health stakeholders can now use the program’s national, data-driven tools to support targeted emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation activities for more than 4.1 million at-risk Medicare beneficiaries.
This kind of massive data mining and essential information delivery does not just happen. The need was urgent for a long time before the innovations necessary to respond effectively. What were the challenges in gathering the information? How did politics impact the data science? Where were the biggest gaps in knowledge? What can be learned from the barriers to progress to speed responses in the future? One of the best ways to get answers to those and other compelling questions would be to go right to the top.
In this episode, Kristen describes how she spends her days assessing disaster-induced stress on the health care system and develops interventions to mitigate health system surge and adverse health outcomes for at-risk populations. Kristen leverages federal health and innovation technologies to provide Medicare data, maps, tools, training and products to inform and support federal-to-community level emergency preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation activities for electricity and healthcare dependent beneficiaries that live independently and may be adversely impacted by a disaster.
Work From Home - Karin Hurt and David Dye
As the world holds it collective breath and faces the fear and uncertainty of a “silent enemy” that has turned the world upside down, companies have had no choice but to develop work-from-home structures to keep their organizations running and support employees as they follow social distancing guidelines. Over half of U.S. employees (75 million workers) hold jobs and have responsibilities that could be performed, at least in part, from home. Most of us would never have said we could function alone in our living room…but it turns out that we can. We keep hearing the phrase, “no one ever thought this could happen”…but of course people have been thinking of these things for a long time.
Before the pandemic and subsequent government requirements mandated us to be at home, only 4% of the workforce actually worked from home. And before the devastating pandemic, although 70% of employers would offer work at home options to some employees, only 7% offered it most of their employees. Likely, now that the world has been working from home in mass, things are going to change. We are not as convinced that we need to sit together to be effective. There is something incredibly scary about that realization…particularly if it is true!
Folks that have been thinking about whether working at home is functional are as shocked as we are that around the globe, within just a few months, over a billion people have functioned from home…running businesses, doing their jobs, ordering food…basically every facet of life, it turns out, is accessible from home… once the misery is over…will this be a tipping point? A new normal? Are the futurists who dreamed of these days ready for the reality?
The only way to successfully drag ourselves out of this disaster is with courage. The courage to lead when we know how, the courage to follow the right leaders and the courage to persevere. Courage will define whether we are successful. The new normal is also going to require us to become even more innovative. The only business culture that will have even a chance of survival shift will demand a commitment to creating a culture where individuals are more empowered to contribute to the overall mission of the organization by speaking up and being heard.
If ever someone skated to the puck and wrote about the tools and ideas for tomorrow’s challenge, without actually knowing that tomorrow would become today overnight, it is this episode’s guests. Karin Hurt and David Dye have written about their approach to organizational success: A Courageous Culture. According to Karin and David, there is a breakdown in organizations that stifles innovation. Employees have ideas and leadership is interested in these ideas but somehow, there is a disconnect. Karin and David believe that the collective effect of thousands of small opportunities missed because employees didn’t speak up when they realized something wasn’t working or didn’t share an idea because they worried that it might not be a good one, creates opportunities for failure. They believe that eliminating the safe silence that results from not speaking up and not contributing to the mission of the organization can help organizations thrive and innovate. Perhaps working from home will empower the silent innovators into active participation?