Article originally written by Barrett Newkirk for The Desert Sun – November 18, 2015.
Health and wellness reporter Barrett Newkirk can be reached at (760) 778-4767, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @barrettnewkirk.
The annual meeting of minds known as TEDMED got underway in La Quinta on Wednesday with hundreds of attendees hearing from a diverse lineup of experts discussing work that often overlaps medicine and technology.
The annual conference, which is the independent and medically focused offshoot of the TEDTALK series, continues through Friday at the La Quinta Resort & Club. As many as 800 were expected to attend, many of them students, medical professional or entrepreneurs.
Chris Bi, a cancer drug researcher with Pfizer in San Diego, took a moment to snap photos of palm trees lit up at night just before the first round of speakers began. Bi said he came to hear from innovators who may help his own research, but also to get exposure to people working in areas far different from his research lab.
“I want to see how things can intersect to help with work in a lot of fields,” he said.
For those who can’t attend in person, live-streaming events are happening around the world. Talks will also be posted on the TEDMED website after they’re completed.
Speakers Wednesday ran between humorous and deadpan serious. They included people working with the latest in human gene technology and a part-time cardiologist/part-time folk singer who is about to have her second child.
Family physician Pamela Wible began her 15-minute talk in a light mood before calling an alarm on the medical profession.
“I love the three things that people fear the most,” Wible said, “death, disease and public speaking.”
She then discussed the problem of physician suicide, reading suicide notes and showing photos from three cases. She said it’s “medicine’s dark secret, and it’s covered up by our hospitals, clinics and medical schools.”
Conference speakers Karen Stobbe and Mondy Carter stood in the conference’s social lounge after traveling from North Carolina. Their work also crosses unusual boundaries. They use techniques from improvisational theater to help caregivers relate with Alzheimer’s patients.
Stobbe explained that like with improv, caregivers often need to follow someone else’s lead.
“If you’re on stage and someone says ‘I have a duck in my room,’ and you say ‘No you don’t,’ you get into a horrible argument on stage,” she said. “With Alzheimer’s, if someone says ‘I have a duck in my room,’ you go see the duck in their room.”
Stobbe and Carter’s talk is set for Thursday morning as part of a session all about the human mind.