Big News in Big Data: NIH Launches Largest and Most Diverse Genetics Database Ever Created

Feb 26, 2014, 7:21 PM, Posted by Nancy Barrand

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Eighteen years ago this month, Big Data had a cultural coming out party when IBM's Deep Blue defeated international chess champion Gary Kasparov in a game. Gary Kasparov was a chess genius. But Deep Blue could mine the records of 700,000 grandmaster chess games and evaluate 200 million positions per second. The famously nimble Kasparov ultimately could not match the brute computing force of Deep Blue. 

This week we mark another historic milestone in Big Data history. This time, there is more at stake than bragging rights from a chess competition. 

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What Convinces College Students to Get Flu Vaccines?

Feb 24, 2014, 8:00 AM, Posted by Deborah Bae

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What convinces college students to get flu vaccines? Read the latest in our efforts to apply behavioral economics to perplexing health and health care problems.

Almost every college student knows that getting sick while at school will have negative effects on their grades and social life. So why do so many students forgo flu vaccinations that are readily available at almost every college health center? Researchers at Swarthmore College tested three approaches to motivate students to get a flu vaccine: a financial incentive, a peer endorsement via social networks, and an email that included an audio clip of a coughing individual to convey the consequence of not getting the vaccine. The researchers found that students offered as little as $10 were twice as likely to get a flu vaccination.

Read the full story

 

Entrepreneurs and Underserved Communities: StartUp Health's New Accelerator

Feb 18, 2014, 8:00 AM, Posted by Paul Tarini

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The past few years have been marked with a surge in health care business accelerators—programs that provide support to help health care entrepreneurs develop their ideas and raise initial funding. In tracking the success of these innovation hubs, we realized something was missing.

On the complex journey of taking a health care idea to market, most entrepreneurs aren’t seeing underserved communities—the people and the providers who serve them—as target markets. The result is that health care innovations are passing by some of the communities that could benefit the most from innovation. But what if we could help entrepreneurs see these patients and their providers as a viable market? What if we could make it easier for health care businesses to design solutions for the needs of our most vulnerable populations?

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One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Making Incentives Stick

Feb 14, 2014, 9:00 AM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

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By Emmy Ganos

I work for the country's largest foundation dedicated to health, but I have a secret. I have a huge problem staying away from my go-to comforts: macaroni and cheese, doughnuts, and most of all, the couch. I'm able to keep away from donuts most of the time, by exercising huge degrees of willpower on my way home from work each night (RIGHT PAST the Krispy Kreme). But by the time I get home, that's enough exercising for me, and I'm ready for my macaroni and my couch.

And, another secret, I barely exercise. About once a week, I walk for transportation around Philadelphia, and I walk fast. But that's the full extent of it for me. It is not uncommon for me to spend whole days on the couch -- with a great book and my cat on my lap, working on my laptop, or binge-watching HBO with my husband. I rarely exercise at work--despite free exercise classes and a free gym. 

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How Can We Help People Get More Sleep?

Feb 12, 2014, 8:00 AM, Posted by Lori Melichar

Hairdresser takes a break during work. Image courtesy of epSos.de. Hairdresser takes a break during work. Image courtesy of epSos.de.

How’d you sleep last night?

Like many Americans, I’m a mother of small children. And like many Americans, I have a full time job with a long commute, from New York City to Princeton, New Jersey. Like too many Americans, I don’t always get as much sleep as I need to do a good job as a mother or as a program officer here at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

So when WNYC recently asked me to participate in a roundtable discussion about sleep with Dr. Shelby Freedman Harris and Dr. Carl W. Bazil, I hesitated; clearly, I’m no expert on the subject. But I’ve spent a large part of my career in the Foundation’s Department of Research and Evaluation, where we support research into the root causes of poor health and explore how we can accelerate improvements in health and health care. And as I thought about the studies we’ve supported over the years on behavior change and other research I’ve encountered, I realized that much of it might shed light on the national challenge of sleep deprivation.

What follows are the thoughts I shared at the WNYC panel. I’d be thrilled to hear what you think might work.

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