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Saturday, April 14, 2012

TEDMED Day 2: "Missing Ingredients " painting session 3

I began by painting a measuring cup as Thomas Friedman crossed the stage, as this session was entitled “Missing Ingredients.”  Thomas is the director for The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  He spoke of his work in New York and spoke of the need for a feedback loop for public health measures. He also spoke of the importance of appreciating failure.  As he spoke, I created loop after loop until a tornado formed.  I listened to him speak about the advice he received from a friend and concentration camp survivor on drug resistant tuberculosis.  So I began to paint a series of sky scrapers beneath the tornado and standing in their midst Thomas's advisor presses his hand against the measuring glass.

Measuring Cup

Next Ivan Oransky, Executive Editor, Reuters Health went onstage and treated us to a stirring lecture comparing the way we treat people in the world of medicine to the book and film Moneyball.  We need to look at the stats and data in a scientific way and determine when to treat and when not to. Sometimes when we see a pitch, we should let it pass us by.  So a boy entered the painting preparing to wind up a pitch.

Money Ball and WIFI

Ivan also addressed the new disorders known as pre-diabetes, pre-cancer and pre-acne.  He pointed out the treatments sometimes had severe side death.  He even quoted an advertisement for a pre-acne medication that praised the ease of treatment with this drug, as the users did not have face pustules yet. That was because they did not have acne! 

Next the human firecracker known as Todd Park, United States Chief Technology Officer, leapt upon the stage.  He praised the opportunities for patients to make better decisions using open data sets made available by HHS.  He spoke of the power of the Blue Button and I began to paint it as the center of the tornado within our measuring cup of care.

Next the very genuine and inspiring Jacob Scott, MD gave a speech entitled: "Can We Stop The Imaginectomies?"  Jacob has done a little of everything.  He is a radiation oncologist and cancer theoretician who began his career in the U.S. Navel Academy focusing on astrophysics and has a B.S. in Physics. He went onto serve US submarine fleet.  Then he got his MD in Radiation Oncology and is currently pursing his doctorate in Mathematics at Oxford.  He is applying math to treat cancer and his special focus is on the brain tumor Glioblastoma.

Jacob focused his considerable mental talents on the problem of how we determine whom we choose as entrants to medical school.  He stated we pick those that think in a dot-to-dot fashion when we need people who combine creativity with a large base of knowledge.  He paced the stage with an impassioned intensity as he described a future where a more diverse and eclectic group of people would be our healers and they would practice with their imaginations intact. So within the painting two young doctors paint one face.  One side is the dot-to-dot; one side is a realistic wash of colorful features.

The right and left brain doctor

Jacob received a standing ovation for his powerful and hopeful speech.

Next Larry Brilliant, CEO and President of Skoll Global Threats Fund sat down for an interview with Peggy Hamburg Commissioner of the FDA. Their discussion was a safe conversation about the FDA approval process.  Many of those sitting around me in the social hub began to tune out and the volume of conversation rose.  I began to paint pill after pill in a cascading pile.  Peggy spoke of the need for smart regulation as they discussed the potential of fast tracking drugs in the US.  Then I thought of the two viewpoints held by patients on this topic.  I thought of all the many sick people on the ACOR list serve, desperate for access to a clinical trial and I thought of advocates such as Joleen Chambers, from the Failed Implant Device Alliance, who urge better regulation and post market analysis.  Are we too slow?  Or are we too fast to approve? Do we look back years later to view the daughters of DES?  Do we admit to broken devices inside broken bodies and only after drug resistant superbugs kill far too many in our hospitals, do we re-evaluate the use of antibiotics in cattle who are well? 

Next, I built a sky in the painting with a center eye representing the thousands watching us on simulcast screens.  By this point in the day many of those onsite were complaining about a lack of strong WIFI signal at a TEDMED event.  So to the upper left of the frame two WIFI signals appear to be eyes that are surprised and slightly worried.

"Missing Ingredients"

While I painted within the HUB, I spoke to many people. One was Cindy Dyer who was promoting her Great Challenge #40.  She was advocating a Reduction in Domestic Abuse.  Her challenge did not make the list of the final 20, but I hope her goals are folded into one of the other challenges.  I painted her into the painting holding a boom mic in her hand. 

Cindy and Challenge 40

She stands next to a delightful reporter from NPR's Market Watch.  He said he was familiar with my story as it appeared on NPR in the fall of 2009.  He quizzed me about my color choices in the painting.  I told him about my favorite blue, a lovely cyan tone.  I said that it was sacred and I usually dress my patients in that color.  So, I added him into the painting as a patient interviewing me with his blue gown open and buttocks showing. I often say verbally,  "We are all patients in the end," and sometimes I say that visually.

sacred blue

This painting was given to GE for their sponsorship of TEDMED. As I handed it to their representative, I thought of Keith Boone and all of his handwork in the GE healthcare division and knew it was going to a good home.


  1. Wow Regina....great work. I would have love to be at the TED conference. Some great speakers.....Thanks for sharing!

  2. Excellent Regina, thank you for this report.