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Nina Tandon: Could tissue engineering mean personalized medicine?

Nina Tandon: Could tissue engineering mean personalized medicine?

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Each of our bodies is utterly unique, which is a lovely thought until it comes to treating an illness — when every body reacts differently, often unpredictably, to standard treatment. Tissue engineer Nina Tandon talks about a possible solution: Using pluripotent stem cells to make personalized models of organs on which to test new drugs and treatments, and storing them on computer chips. (Call it extremely personalized medicine.)

Nina Tandon studies ways to use electrical signals to grow artificial tissues for transplants and other therapies.

WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO HER

Nina Tandon studies electrical signaling in the context of tissue engineering, with the goal of creating “spare parts” for human implantation and/or disease models. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Cooper Union, Nina worked on an electronic nose used to “smell” lung cancer as a Fulbright scholar in Rome. She studied electrical stimulation for cardiac tissue engineering at MIT and Columbia, and now continues her research on electrical stimulation for broader tissue-engineering applications. Tandon was a 2011 TED Fellow and a 2012 Senior Fellow.

“I love pointing out to my students that the cable equations we use to analyze transmission along nerves are the same ones developed for the transatlantic cable.”  Nina Tandon

 

Candy Chang: Before I die I want to…

Candy Chang: Before I die I want to…

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In her New Orleans neighborhood, artist and TED Fellow Candy Chang turned an abandoned house into a giant chalkboard asking a fill-in-the-blank question: “Before I die I want to ___.” Her neighbors’ answers — surprising, poignant, funny — became an unexpected mirror for the community. (What’s your answer?)

Candy Chang creates art that prompts people to think about their secrets, wishes and hopes — and then share them.

Why you should listen to her:

Candy Chang is an artist, designer, and urban planner who explores making cities more comfortable and contemplative places. She believes in the potential of introspection and collective wisdom in public space to improve our communities and help us lead better lives.

Recent projects include Before I Die, where she transformed an abandoned house in her neighborhood in New Orleans into an interactive wall for people to share their hopes and dreams — a project The Atlantic called “one of the most creative community projects ever.” Other projects include I Wish This Was, a street art project that invites people to voice what they want in vacant storefronts, and Neighborland, an online tool that helps people self-organize and shape the development of their communities. She is a TED Senior Fellow, an Urban Innovation Fellow, and was named a “Live Your Best Life” Local Hero by Oprah magazine. By combining street art with urban planning and social activism, she has been recognized as a leader in developing new strategies for the design of our cities. She is co-founder of Civic Center, an art and design studio in New Orleans.

 

Tom Wujec: Build a tower, build a team

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Tom Wujec presents some surprisingly deep research into the “marshmallow problem” — a simple team-building exercise that involves dry spaghetti, one yard of tape and a marshmallow. Who can build the tallest tower with these ingredients? And why does a surprising group always beat the average?

Tom Wujec studies how we share and absorb information. He’s an innovative practitioner of business visualization — using design and technology to help groups solve problems and understand ideas. He is a Fellow at Autodesk.

Why you should listen to him:

Tom Wujec is a Fellow at Autodesk, the makers of design software for engineers, filmmakers, designers. At Autodesk, he has worked on software including SketchBook Pro, PortfolioWall and Maya (which won an Academy Award for its contribution to the film industry). As a Fellow, he helps companies work in the emerging field of business visualization, the art of using images, sketches and infographics to help teams solve complex problems as a group.

He’s the author of several books, including Five-Star Mind: Games and Puzzles to Stimulate Your Creativity and Imagination.

 

Jessica Green: Are we filtering the wrong microbes?

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Should we keep the outdoors out of hospitals? Ecologist and TED Fellow Jessica Green has found that mechanical ventilation does get rid of many types of microbes, but the wrong kinds: the ones left in the hospital are much more likely to be pathogens.

Jessica Green wants people to understand the important role microbes play in every facet of our lives: climate change, building ecosystems, human health — even roller derby. This University of Oregon professor (also known by her derby name “Thumper Biscuit”) is using non-traditional tools — like art, animation, and film -– to help people visualize the invisible world.

Why you should listen to her:

Jessica Green is an engineer and ecologist who specializes in biodiversity theory and microbial systems. As a professor at both the University of Oregon and the Santa Fe Institute, she is the founding director of the innovative new Biology and the Built Environment (BioBE) Center that bridges biology and architecture. Jessica envisions a future with genomic-driven approaches to architectural design that promote sustainability, human health and well-being. She is currently spearheading efforts to model buildings as complex ecosystems that house trillions of diverse microorganisms interacting with each other, with humans, and with their environment. This framework uses next-generation sequencing technology to characterize the “built environment microbiome” and will offer site-specific design solutions to minimize the spread of infectious disease and maximize building energy efficiency.

 

Elizabeth Lindsey: Curating humanity’s heritage

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It’s been said that when an elder dies, it’s as if a library is burned. Anthropologist Elizabeth Lindsey, a National Geographic Fellow, collects the deep cultural knowledge passed down as stories and lore.

Elizabeth Lindsey is a fellow of the National Geographic Society. Her mission: to keep ancestral voices alive by recording indigenous wisdom and traditions.

Why you should listen to her:

Elizabeth Kapu’uwailani Lindsey wants the world to remember the people who came before us. The actor-turned-anthropologist has made it her mission to find, preserve and share the knowledge and traditions of indigenous populations before they disappear. She’s working with Google to create a geospatial Map of the Human Story, using the indigenous science of wayfinding to chart tales at risk of being lost.

In 2011, Lindsey, who’s the first female fellow and first Polynesian explorer at the National Geographic Society, will set out on a 186-day global expedition to document what she calls “teachings critical to navigating the complexity of our times.” Lindsey’s 1996 documentary Then There Were None, which chronicled the near-extinction of native Hawaiians, has become a must-see in many history classrooms. She was named Hawaii’s Woman of the Year in 2004.

“To have a Native person research indigenous knowledge and practices marks a new era for National Geographic. The society is trying to get away from the image of the white explorer ‘sticking a flag on something.’”  current.org