Archive for: September 2013

Seeking DIY Nurses – New MakerNurse Initiative Launches

Sep 25, 2013, 8:00 AM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team


At World Maker Faire in NYC this past weekend, MIT’s Little Devices Lab and Pioneer unveiled MakerNurse, a nationwide initiative to find nurses who are fabricating new devices and improvising workarounds to fix problems in the way health care is delivered.

Pioneer’s Lori Melichar and Jose Gomez-Marquez, who is spearheading MakerNurse, discussed the new initiative from Maker Faire’s Innovation Stage.

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How Can Social Networks Help Improve the Health of Older Americans?

Sep 19, 2013, 1:00 PM, Posted by Wendy Yallowitz

Wendy Yallowitz Wendy Yallowitz, program officer

Many retired adults are extremely active, playing golf, volunteering for local civic groups, participating in book clubs and participating in other social activities. But as the years go by, your life changes and your social interactions change too. You grow frailer, which can create barriers to your participation in family and community events. You rely more on the help of caregivers including neighbors and family, for routine activities. To live independently, you pay someone to help you bathe, drive you to appointments, clean your house, and prepare your meals.

But could these social interactions be opportunities to facilitate healthy aging?

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Exploring Medical Conspiracy Theories

Sep 18, 2013, 11:00 AM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team


It’s easy to laugh off conspiracy theories. But what if studying them could tell us something new and important about what drives people’s health behavior?

Eric Oliver hopes to do just that. A professor of political science at the University of Chicago, Oliver has studied the origins and impact of political conspiracy theories. Now, with Pioneer’s support, he’s turning his attention to the realm of health, investigating medical conspiracy theories and how they influence people’s habits and decisions.

The Pioneer web team recently interviewed Oliver about his research; here’s an edited transcript of that exchange. You can also learn more about the grant here.

Pioneer: You've heard the old expression, “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn't mean they aren’t out to get you.” Are conspiracy theories by definition always wrong?

Eric Oliver: They are not wrong per se. Conspiracies do sometimes occur (think of Nixon and Watergate). But as a researcher, I try to remain decidedly agnostic about the truth claims of conspiracy theories. Lily Tomlin once quipped, “What is reality but a collective hunch?”, and I generally agree that knowledge is socially constructed.

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The Not-Normals Break Through: Update on the RWJF/Khan Academy Project

Sep 5, 2013, 8:00 AM, Posted by Mike Painter

Sal Khan speaking at TED 2011

If you’re going to get ambitious about your next task, don’t go and talk to normal people about it. You’ll only get normal answers. Get out of your comfortable little world and step into a completely alien one. As we say round here, when worlds collide, transformation happens.

Love that passage from Brian Millar’s 2012 Fast Company piece. (Plus, it gives me the awesome chance to nod to the eccentrics and outliers—like Millar’s dominatrix and tattooed hipster set—and their unlikely importance to pioneering, breakthrough ideas).

This week RWJF extended another grant to the Khan Academy; this one for $1.25 million.  I say another as we started this health education journey with Sal, Rishi and the Khan team—right after Sal’s outstanding 2011 TED/Long Beach talk. That discussion resulted in a preliminary 2012 $350,000 bet on this great team. We were intrigued by their big idea—and we thought the world might be too.

What’s that big idea again? Just this: an entirely free, utterly fantastic health education for anyone in the world with a computer and an Internet connection.

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