A closer look now at the scanning of an Egyptian mummy here. “Mummies of this period are not very plentiful, so each time we have an incremental change in the technology we learn much more and are able to say much more than in the past,” comments Jonathan Elias, PhD, director of the Akhmim Mummy Studies Consortium, in the video.
A group of MD and PhD students represented Stanford at TEDMED 2015, which was held last week. Several students have written about their experiences on Scope, and here now are some of their photos from the two-and-a-half-day event.
More photos of Stanford Medicine events, people and places can be found on Instagram.
Photos by Eric Trac, Afaaf Shakir, Chao Long, Lichy Han and Thomas Chew
When listening to our latest 1:2:1 podcast, featuring a conversation with Kyra Bobinet, MD, MPH, two things jumped out at me. First, Bobinet, an expert in design thinking and behavioral change who says she “leads by my curiosity,” has a very cool personal story, and second: We shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves when we struggle to make positive health changes. In short, it’s not us – it’s a design flaw.
The interests of Bobinet, CEO and founder of a design firm using neuroscience to change behavior, can be traced back to medical school, when she was exposed to a program that taught health education in juvenile hall. “I became fascinated by the behavioral patterns of gang members who had violent pasts and came in and out of the system,” she says. These gang members vowed to stay out of jail when they were released but yet “two days later they were immersed” in their old lives and back in trouble. “Why is that happening? And how is that different than me saying I don’t want to eat french fries during Lent but then doing so the second day?” she wonders aloud.
Not long after, an experience with a patient wound up changing the trajectory of her career. During residency she saw a man with gout who had taken meth just three days prior. Bobinet had only ten minutes in clinic with him, and he only mentioned the drug use during the tail end of their conversation, before she had a chance to probe into it. “He changed my life,” she says. “I was so interested in the behavior that led to the medical condition – I [realized I] didn’t want to write prescriptions for the condition anymore, I wanted to focus on the behavior.” She went on to public health school from there.
In the podcast, Bobinet, who also teaches courses on patient engagement and empowerment in the Stanford AIM Lab with Larry Chu, MD, goes on to talk a lot more about behavior and what she has learned through extensive research of patients and caregivers. She talks about her new book, Well Designed Life, which lays the groundwork for those looking to design the changes they want to see in their life, and she offers more advice and words of encouragement for people who are struggling to, say, stay on a diet or quit smoking. “Think like a designer,” she says. Your failed attempt at making positive change “was just a version, just a protoptype… That was something that didn’t work – but it’s not you, it’s the design… And you have to redesign what will grab your attention now.”
Ready for the first-ever musical parody produced by Stanford medical students? Filmed on campus last month and released this afternoon, Dear Future Doctor features a group of mostly first-years singing and dancing to the tune of one of Meghan Trainor’s recent hits. Featuring characters like the Late Doctor, the Greedy Doctor and the Celebrity Doctor, the song also – in the words of producer/writer/editor/first-year student Gun Ho Lee – aims to teach a lesson “on what the future doctor is NOT to do.”
The song “is meant to be a satire of the 21st century American medical system,” director/writer/ second-year student Joshua Wortzel elaborates. “In her song, Meghan Trainor pokes fun at some of the unfortunate aspects of modern courtship and gender norms” – and Dear Future Doctor, in turn, pokes fun at some of the things that “we medical students learn about becoming doctors.”
Earlier this week we announced the exciting news that Stanford bioengineer Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, had won a $3 million 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. Before he took the stage to accept his award during a star-studded Academy Awards-like ceremony Sunday evening, the video above was shown to highlight the significance of his work. One of Deissoroth’s quotes:
There are deep questions about the brain that may never be answered, but we’re making headway with optogenetics… We’re headed down a path that gets us to understanding [questions like] why does one person feel the way they do and why does it create a disease when they do a particular way, and what can be done to correct it?
Noting that the suffering of people with psychiatric disease “is a very, very serious and pervasive matter,” he also says “the nature of the illnesses – their complexity, the amount of suffering and the mystery – has made this what I was destined to do.”
Updated 11-9-15:Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of Stanford’s medical school, provided comment last evening on Karl Deisseroth’s win. “The human brain has been called the most complicated object in the universe, but that hasn’t daunted Karl’s quest to understand it,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine. “If anything it seems the challenge has inspired him to develop techniques to see inside this most important of black boxes. This passion to understand the mind, combined with his intelligence and creativity, led to his pioneering role in creating optogenetics.”
11-8-15: We just learned that Stanford Medicine’s Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, has received the $3 million 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, an award designed to “honor transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life.” Deisseroth was given the prize for his work in optogenetics, a technique using light to control the activity of the brain.
The award was presented tonight at a private black-tie, red-carpet ceremony in nearby Mountain View, Calif. “The suffering of the mentally ill and the mysteries of the brain are so deep that, to make progress, we need to take big risks and even blind leaps,” Deisseroth said after accepting his award from actress Kate Hudson. “The members of my lab have taken a leap: borrowing genes from microbes to control the brain.”
Earlier this year my colleague reported on some pretty neat work from the labs of psychiatrist Sergiu Pasca, MD, and neurobiologist Ben Barres, MD, PhD. Researchers there figured out how to create spheres of neuronal cells resembling the cerebral cortex, making functional human brain tissue available for the first time to study neuropsychiatric diseases such as autism and schizophrenia. In an article today the Associated Press highlighted this work, with Malcolm Ritter writing:
It’s part of a larger movement over the past few years to create “organoids,” miniature versions of the body’s organs or key parts of organs. Goals include studying disease, testing possible treatments and perhaps supplying replacements for transplants. Scientists have made organoids representing the intestine, prostate, kidney, thyroid, retina and liver.
This overall organoid approach “is a major change in the paradigm in terms of doing research with human tissues rather than animal tissues that are substitutes. … It’s truly spectacular,” says Arnold Kriegstein, who studies the brain at the University of California, San Francisco.
Pasca talks more about the work in the AP video above; Stanford ethicist Hank Greely, JD, also weighs in.
It’s been almost three years since Lloyd B. Minor took helm of Stanford’s medical school as dean, and he talks about his time here and his plans for the future in a new 1:2:1 podcast. Saying “this is an extraordinarily exciting place to work – a place where it’s easy to get out of bed in the morning with enthusiasm about what lies ahead in the day,” Minor goes on to talk about Stanford Medicine’s vision to lead the biomedical revolution, the promise of precision health, and his commitment to diversity. He also discusses Stanford’s many strengths, including the interdisciplinary nature of the work done here (“our ethos is one that really does encourage collaboration”) and our researchers’ drive to do big things: “For sure, there’s a role for incremental advances, but our unique strength [is in] being able to come up with paradigm‑shifting advances.”