January 4, 2013 by 

Jay Walker’s TEDMED has started to unveil what 2013′s Davos of Healthcare will look like. Thefirst 10 TEDMED speakers have been revealed. The list shows TEDMED 2013, which is set for April 16 through 19, will stick with its theme of mixing hot-button current events and 50,000-foot thinking with medical rock stars and creatives from the arts and other disciplines. And at least two topics look to get special attention: health and wellness and big data.

The speakers and their talks are:

  • Peter Attia, president of the Nutrition Science Initiative: “Is the ‘obesity crisis’ just a disguise for a deeper problem?”
  • Sue Austin, artistic director of Freewheeling: “When is a wheelchair an ultralight submarine?”
  • Elazer R. Edelman, director of the Biomedical Engineering Center at MIT: “The big bang in medicine and engineering — will the knowledge explosion actually hurt innovation across disciplines?”
  • Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco: “Can we innovate better by throwing out our favorite tools?”
  • Deborah Estrin, professor of computer science at Cornell and co-founder of Open mHealth: “Biometric apps — can there be too much of a good thing?”
  • Dr. Isaac Kohane, co-director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School: “How can every clinical visit be used to advance medical science?”
  • John Maeda, president of Rhode Island School of Design: “How can design principles lead to more discovery and better treatment?”
  • Elizabeth Marincola, president of the Society for Science & the Public and publisher of Science News: “With open access, who translates medical research?”
  • Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation: “What does a $100 million public health data revolution look like?”
  • Larry Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology: “Can you coordinate the dance of your body’s 100 trillion microorganisms?”

Stakes continue to rise for Walker and his version of TEDMED, which he wants to be the global brand for big, innovative thinking in medicine. I attended last year, and the reviews were mixed.TEDMED 2012 was a creativity-fest that properly transcended the healthcare reform debate, generated tremendous buzz and threw amazing networking events (on the last full day of TEDMED, the evening party served nothing but alcohol and desserts). And TEDMED 2012 reached more people than ever by simulcasting the event into auditoriums across the country, while challenging the audience to come up with 20 big challenges.

But the big challenges movement fizzled over the course of the year. And loyalists to the old TEDMED, which Walker bought for $25 million, disliked the move to the nation’s capitol. Big names who would hang out for the entire San Diego TEDMED hung out for a fraction of the time and went back to their offices (or hid at exclusive after-parties away from the crowd). Meanwhile, the new big-money interests in TEDMED 2012 struggled to find ROI. Word is that some sponsors (and sponsorships were said to run as high as $250,000 in 2012) won’t be re-upping this year.

These 10 speakers are a good sign for the content of TEDMED 2013 as they mirror some of the best moments of last year. Here are some of TEDMED 2012′s best moments:



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