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Monday, April 16, 2012

"Flight" painting session 10: TEDMED Day 4

It was Friday the 13th and I was painting a heart upon the 10th canvas.

This day we saw the co-creator of TEDMED, Marc Hodosh take the stage and proceed to guide the following talk. Bud Frazier, MD Director of Cardiovascular Surgery Research and Billy Cohn, MD Director of Minimally Invasive Surgical Technology at the Texas Heart Institute gave an amazing lecture.  They started with showing us flying birds, a method that inspired man that flight was possible.  They went on to say that nature has limited resources and used what she had for flight.  Humans quickly discarded this method for propeller driven flight. Just as this method worked better for artificial flight Drs. Frazier and Cohn proposed we must look at the pumping human heart in the same way.  Must it pump?  Or was that nature’s trade off for what she created.  As they engineer artificial hearts with minimally moving parts recipients will have no pulse, but will live with hearts that can function for 20 years inside of their bodies.

So this painting was inspired by “Flight.”  In the center the heart almost seems to spin as the propeller rests in silence before it.  The colors chosen represent the colors in a traditional traffic light as designers and medical professionals must decide when to stop when to go and when to go very, very fast .

my spinning heart

Franziska Michor, Associate Professor of Computational Biology at Dana-Farber Cancer institute spoke about the mathematics of cancer.  So books of thought began to soar across the painting and one asks the question “Can math cure cancer?”
Jay Walker then presented an amazing image of an ancient medical text describing the color of urine; he followed that with an exquisitely detailed image of an entire town witnessing a dissection from surgeons to priests.

The Color of Urine

Next Dan PerryCEO of the Alliance for Aging Research, discussed the future of aging.  I added another book to our image with the words “aging and disease.” I found elements of his speech disquieting as we already live in a society that is very death averse and aging is viewed in a similar light.  As he spoke of aging as a disease that could be treated, I wondered how people would fare emotionally if the gentle steps we take toward death as our age advances were removed. 

Lynda Chin, MD of the MD Anderson Cancer Center spoke about the breaking of cancer covenant.  So a new book entered the painting and we learned about the self-serving molecular nature of cancer cells.

Cancer Covenant

Atul ButteMD Stanford spoke next and mentioned that advanced mathematics might replace the scientific method. He envisioned a future where resources used and clinical trials begun after intensive mathematical modeling supports that this type of research path is most likely successful. 

This painting was given to The California Endowment for their support and sponsorship of TEDMED.


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