Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bringing you more highlights from the Global Conference

The Milken Institute Global Conference is now in full swing. The program agenda reflects hot button issues that dominate news headlines, board meetings and watercooler conversations – the credit crunch, war in Iraq, subprime mortgages, and the rising costs of healthcare. Having the opportunity to hear some of the world’s best minds opine on our weightiest issues and point to solutions sets this conference apart from all others.

Here are quick takes on some of Monday’s sessions. Summaries are available on the FasterCures Web site.
  • Forum on the Future. NIH’s Anthony Fauci, the nation’s infectious disease expert, Microsoft’s Peter Neupert, head of the technology giant’s health solutions effort, and Weill Cornell Medical College’s Eva Vertes, a cancer researcher challenging conventional wisdom and redefining what we know, engaged in a spirited discussion of the risks and promise of 21st century healthcare. FasterCures’ Greg Simon moderated the discussion, provoking interesting responses on a wide range of topics including emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, cancer research and treatment, bioterrorism, and information technology.
  • An Unhealthy America. Chronic diseases have become the single greatest threat to public health and the healthcare system and these diseases are either caused or exacerbated by obesity. Left unattended, former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, who moderated the panel said that this “will be the first generation of children who will live shorter lives than their parents”. A diverse panel of experts including Safeway CEO Steven Burd, health economist Tomas Philipson, diabetes expert Fran Kaufman, fitness entrepreneur Mark Mastrov, and Milken Institute’s Ross DeVol spoke to a room packed with an audience with an even greater array of expertise. The panel looked at the extent of the problem, its consequences, and possible solutions to turn the tide on this major health concern.
  • Revolutionizing Health Care and Research in the Developing World. The panel featured 2006 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, Managing Director, Grameen Bank, speaking about “microcredit loans.” When Yunus began Grameen Bank he loaned a total of $27 among 42 people. Today, Yunus loans on average, anywhere from $10 to $150 to 7.5 million people, 97 percent of those being poor women. Most of the money loaned financed fruit and vegetable seeds for planting, clean water, housing, and sanitary latrines. Yunus believes that social businesses should not be in it to make a profit and that any money made should stay with the company to improve their delivery systems. This was just one example of how individual business models are revolutionizing the delivery of healthcare to the poor in the developing world.
  • Pursuing your Passion. The day could not have ended on a better note. Three of the biggest legends of our time graced the conference and shared how they went confidently in the direction of their dreams, pursued these with passion, and lived to tell the story:

  • Peter Diamandis of the X PRIZE Foundation, which sponsored
    competitions for private-sector spaceflight, super fuel-efficient vehicles and
    rapid human-genome sequencing, aspires to no less than “bringing about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity.”
  • Elaine Wynn, equally well-known as a passionate children’s advocate and patron of education, for decades has led initiatives to improve education in Nevada and the nation.
  • Quincy Jones, through the Project Q Foundation, works to improve the well-being of children in developing countries, and champions myriad other causes from music to medical research and more.
Mike Milken, a passionate innovator and advocate himself, moderated the panel, exploring the common thread that made each of the speakers such effective catalysts for positive change.

I will continue to update this blog and post session summaries, but also be sure to visit the Milken Institute’s Global Conference site for video streams and the latest developments.

--Cecilia O. Arradaza, FasterCures, Communications Director

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