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Exploring Citizen Science

Jul 31, 2014, 11:34 AM, Posted by Christine Nieves

Christine Nieves, program associate Christine Nieves, program associate

I remember the distinct feeling of learning about Foldit. It was a mixture of awe and hope for the potential breakthrough contributions a citizen can make towards science (without needing a PhD!). Foldit is an online puzzle video game about protein folding. In 2011, Foldit users decoded an AIDS protein that had been a mystery to researchers for 15 years. The gamers accomplished it in 3 weeks. When I learned this, it suddenly hit me; if we, society, systematically harness the curiosity of citizens, we could do so much!

This is the spirit behind our recent exploration to learn more about how citizen scientists are addressing some of the most pressing problems in health and health care.

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RWJF Pioneering Ideas Podcast: Episode 5 | Conspiracy Theories, Microbiomes & More

Jul 30, 2014, 12:00 PM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

Please note that this podcast player might not work in some versions of Internet Explorer. Please view this page in another browser, such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari. You may also access the episode via SoundCloud.

Welcome to the fifth episode of RWJF’s Pioneering Ideas podcast, where we explore cutting edge ideas and emerging trends that can help build a Culture of Health. Your host is Lori Melichar, director at the foundation.

Ideas Explored in This Episode

Conspiracy Theories (1:44) – What in the world can belief in conspiracy theories tell us about health and health care? A lot, as you’ll hear in this fascinating conversation between RWJF’s Brian Quinn and University of Chicago political scientist and RWJF grantee Eric Oliver. For more on this story, see this blog post from Brian; and don’t miss The Onion’s send-up of Eric’s research.

How Can We Measure a Culture of Health? (18:45) – Alonzo Plough, our Chief Science Officer and Vice President of Research, Evaluation and Learning riffs on the challenges and opportunities when it comes to measuring culture change.

Microbiomes and Design (26:25) – We sit down with microbiome scientist Jessica Green to hear the results of her latest research at the intersection of biology and environmental design. Explore early ideas about the huge ways tiny microbes might one day help create a healthier world. To learn more, visit microbe.net.

Exploring Sleep Health (32:25) – Harvard economist Sendhil Mullinaithan, author of Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much, talks about the importance of getting more people to recognize the ripple effect of sleep on our mental and physical wellbeing.

Connect About This Episode

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Another Step Toward Open Health Education

May 22, 2014, 8:00 AM, Posted by Mike Painter

Osmosis logo Image credit: Knowledge Diffusion

This post was originally published on The Health Care Blog by Shiv Gaglani, Ryan Haynes, and Michael Painter, MD.

Earlier this month Shiv and Ryan published a piece in the Annals of Internal Medicine, entitled What Can Medical Education Learn from Facebook and Netflix? We chose the title because, as medical students, we realized the tools our classmates are using to socialize and watch TV use more sophisticated algorithms than the tools we use to learn medicine.

What if the same mechanisms that Facebook and Netflix use—such as machine learning-based recommender systems, crowdsourcing, and intuitive interfaces—could transform how we educate our health care professionals? For example, just as Amazon recommends products based on other items that customers have bought, we believe that supplementary resources such as questions, videos, images, mnemonics, references, and even real-life patient cases could be automatically recommended based on what students and professionals are learning in the classroom or seeing in the clinic. That is one of the premises behind Osmosis, the flagship educational platform of Knowledge Diffusion, Shiv’s and Ryan’s startup. Osmosis uses data analytics and machine learning to deliver the best medical content to those trying to learn it, as efficiently as possible for the learner. Since its launch in August, Osmosis has delivered over two million questions to more than 10,000 medical students around the world using a novel push notification system that syncs to student curricular schedules.

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RWJF Pioneering Ideas Podcast: Episode 4 | MakerNurse, Visualizing Health Data & More

May 12, 2014, 8:00 AM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

Please note that this podcast player might not work in some versions of Internet Explorer. Please view this page in another browser, such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari. You may also access the episode via SoundCloud.

Welcome to the fourth episode of RWJF’s Pioneering Ideas podcast, where we explore cutting edge ideas and emerging trends that can transform health and health care. Your host is Lori Melichar, director at the foundation.

TED Master Class Game designer Jane McGonigal and IDEO CEO Tim Brown join Thomas Goetz for the master class conversation at TED 2014

Ideas & Projects in This Episode

  • MakerNurse (2:38) - Nurses Kelly Reilly, Roxana Reyna, and Mary Beth Dwyer share how they hack the supplies in their hospitals’ supply closets to improve patient care. (These nurses are all involved with RWJF grantee MakerNurse, the brainchild of Jose Gomez-Marquez and Anna Young, who lead the Little Devices Lab at MIT.)
  • Alternative Marketplaces (8:59) - Grantees Terry McDonald (St. Vincent de Paul) and George Wang (SIRUM) have something in common: They’re passionate about turning other people’s trash into resources that can improve health and health care. We introduced them and invited them to have a conversation about their work.
  • Visualizing Health (19:15) - RWJF entrepreneur in residence and former WIRED editor Thomas Goetz, RWJF program officer Andrea Ducas, designer Tim Leong and the University of Michigan’s Brian Zikmund-Fisher talk about Visualizing Health (vizhealth.org) -- how it came about, how they collaborated to make it happen, how it features agile research practices and what they hope happens next
  • Designing a Culture of Health (25:45) - Game designer Jane McGonigal and IDEO CEO Tim Brown share ideas about designing a culture of health (highlights from the master class conversation at TED 2014).

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Discover Positive Health: New Website Launches

May 9, 2014, 12:25 PM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

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Are you interested in the connection between physical and psychological health? Intrigued about how positive health assets may help us stay healthy and recover more quickly from illness? Looking for ways to stay up-to-speed on the latest research?

Check out the new Positive Health Research website, a valuable resource for those who are exploring the concept of positive health.

Some of the more recent research featured on the website includes:

  • A study into whether life satisfaction impacts how often someone visits the doctor
  • A study that found psychological well-being is associated with a reduced risk of hypertension

Over the past five years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has funded research to help identify the health assets that produce stronger health, in collaboration with the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. This new website showcases the most promising research around the concept of positive health, providing evidence that has the potential to change the way we think about health and health care.