Traditionally, the only kind of conference with the steam to get a lot of people really worked up and to make headlines has been the sports variety, as in "Buffalo embarrasses Washington for critical conference win" or "Big East releases 2012 conference schedule." But a scientific conference with 1000 participants and hundreds of simulcasts by teaching hospitals, medical schools, research institutions, university life science departments, state and federal government agencies, health-oriented corporations and nonprofits across the nation? Welcome to TEDMED 2012, coming to Washington DC (and a big screen near you) this April 10-13, and generating a lot of buzz in its advance wake.
Yes, TEDMED is about to welcome 1000 adventurous thinkers and doers, from a wide variety of medical and non-medical disciplines, to the Kennedy Center in DC for three and a half exciting days of telecast talks. You can't watch it on your laptop, though, any more than you can sit anonymously in a dark auditorium and passively take it in. That's why the organizers talk about "participants" and not "presenters and attendees." There will be discussion, and lots of it. Some will take place during the sessions, and, typical of all scientific conferences, much will happen in the interstices between events: chats in hallways, over dinner, on a morning walk before the opening session. And, notably, on campuses and at clinics across the US, as the events are simulcast to participating institutions and their audiences, who can send in their questions to presenters in real time, via a two-way feed. It's all very high-tech, and very exciting.
What will they talk about? Here's a sampling of the talk topics and their speakers:
- The bugs are getting smarter. Are we? Andrew Read (right)
Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Penn State University
- Why is my joystick smarter than your stethoscope? Seth Cooper
Creative Director, Center for Game Science, University of Washington
- How do you calculate risk in treating an “incurable” disease? Jonathan Glass
Director of the Emory ALS Center, Department of Neurology, Emory University
- Why should we engineer for uncertainty? Frances Arnold (right)
Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry, CalTech
- Can we stop the imaginectomies? Jacob Scott
Radiation Oncologist and Cancer Theoretician
- Are you ready for a new slice of reality? Lisa Nilsson
- What's inspiring about a coma? Fred Hersch (right)
Jazz Pianist & Composer
- Can medical industry and medical research live happily ever after? Lynda Chin
Chair, Department of Genomic Medicine & Scientific Director, Institute of Applied Cancer Science, MD Anderson Cancer Center
Now, about that simulcast. For an indicator of just how widespread the enthusiasm for this event really is, take a look at the map below. The red dots are universities or medical campuses that are hosting a simulcast event. The green dots are either VA medical centers or clinics that will be broadcasting the conference on a big screen to audiences of the interested. Pretty impressive. And while the simulcast effort wasn't free, it didn't cost the receiving institutions a penny, thanks to funding from the Association of American Medical Colleges, Siemens, and the California Endowment.
[Map of TEDMED simulcast venues as of 3/27/12 screensave from conference website]
Who will be watching? A lot of different people, clearly. Like the conference participants themselves, some will have MDs and PhDs and others will not. We have begun to notice articles like the one in the Memphis Business Journal reporting that the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is not only broadcasting the event but has invited 250 area health care professionals to join them at the Memphis...grand gathering. Given the national debate over health care and our place in a wider health and medical research economy, the timing is spot on, and this TEDMED extravaganza (the 4th) is sure to be the most widely talked about yet.
Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. is a full-service event marketing and planning company producing on-campus life science research tradeshows nationwide for going on 19 years. We plan and promote each event to bring the best products and services to the best research campuses across the country. Life science researchers, purchasing agents, and lab managers are actively invited to attend to see the latest products and equipment and discuss their laboratory tool and service needs. See our nationwide show schedule for 2012, most on medical school campuses. If you liked this article, its easy to subscribe, just paste your email address in the the open field in the upper left corner of this page.