Dean Kamen spotlights inventions, robot-building kids at conference

Dean Kamen spotlights inventions, robot-building kids at conference

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The second day of the Medical World Americas Conference and Expo was filled with big names, a big job fair and big ideas.

Highlights of the conference, taking place at the George R. Brown Convention Center, included a Texas Tribune panel discussion on the state of health care in Texas; the MWA Job Fair and TMC Hiring Red, White and You’s job fair for veterans; the TMC Student Poster display and a networking reception.

Poster contest winners included:

  • 1st place: Taylor Kohn, Baylor College of Medicine
    • Karyotype and Y-Chromosome Microdeletion for Men with Testicular Failure: Subsequently or Simultaneously? A Cost Effective Analysis
  • 2nd Place: Yi-Chien Lee, Baylor College of Medicine
    • Sclerostin Antibody Increased Bone Mass and Strength in a Mouse Model of Osteogenesis Imperfecta Caused by Wnt1 Mutation
  • 3rd Place: Nikunj Bhagat, University of Houston
    • Stroke Survivors Attain Long-Term Control on an EEG-Based Brain Machine Interface for Upper-Limb Robotic Rehabilitation
  • Audience Favorite: Lai Li, Houston Methodist Research Institute
    • Reactive Oxygen Species-Mediated Impairment of the Mesenchymal to Endothelial Transition in Diabetic Hyperglycemia

Other sessions included “How Entrepreneurship is Transforming Health Care,” moderated by Erik Halvorsen, Ph.D., director of the TMC Innovation Institute. The take-away was advice on how to cultivate entrepreneurship within a health care organization.

The panel provided some tidbits on how to do that, including:

  • “When doing startup, a lot of achievement sounds great—you get good press and you are winning awards, but customers and sales are the lifeblood,” — Josh Stein, co-founder and CEO of AdhereTech, maker of smart wireless pill bottles.
  • “We focused on what we didn’t know and backfilled with the people who had the been-there-done-that experience we didn’t have,” — David Lucchino, CEO of Entrega, and co-founder and chairman of Frequency Therapeutics.
  • “Trying to change a health system and like trying to steer a battleship with a paddle. Figure out ways to be a market leader. Be patient, and try to find your champion sooner rather than later. If you can find someone at the top so it trickles down is best,” — Greg Johnson, vice president of sales and health systems for Touchcare.

Thursday’s keynote speaker, as part of the “Disruptive Innovation” plenary session, was Dean Kamen, innovator, inventor and founder of DEKA Research.

Though he is world-renowned for inventing the Segway, he provided the audience with a walk down memory lane of the medical devices he also invented, which include the drug infusion pump, technology used in portable dialysis machines and the iBOT electric wheelchair.

“The truth is I hate hospitals, and I have never met a person who wants to be in one,” Kamen said. “I’ve been trying to put all of you out of business, but I fail most of the time.”

He also spoke about the program he created to get kids excited about science and technology, called For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST). Founded in 1989 with less than 20 teams, the program has grown to more than 45,000 teams sponsored by organizations including NASA and more than 200 Fortune 500 companies.

“We are making a sport out of technology, but if you do that, it needs to be equivalent to the Super Bowl,” Kamen said. “It’s important to get technology and people who work in those fields, in front of kids to show it is fun and exciting.”

It has even gained notoriety among celebrities, including Morgan Freeman, who lent his voice and face for a 2011 video. FIRST will be bringing its event back to Houston in April 2017 after a 10-year absence.

Also part of the plenary session was Lynda Chin, M.D., director of the Institute for Health Transformation at The University of Texas System. The disruptive innovation is a program that is working to bring affordable health care to people who need it the most—those with chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Initially targeting south Texas where 30 percent of the population has diabetes and another estimated 30 percent or more are undiagnosed, Chin has pulled together innovators like PricewaterhouseCoopers, IBM Watson and AT&T to close the gap of quality health care through a dedicated health care communication network.

For example, in April, 50 patients were screened during a four-hour period at a nearby Walmart clinic, something Chin said could never be done in a traditional doctor’s office.

“We have to start changing the way care is delivered to a patient-centered model,” she added. “The system also needs to allow for competition so patients get the best value.”

Help us ring in the final day of Medical World Americas by following #MWA2016.

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