Explore the Blog Explore Blog

We Want to Know Your Thoughts About the TEDMED Great Challenges

Apr 10, 2012, 6:34 AM, Posted by Brian C. Quinn

Brian Quinn / RWJF Brian Quinn, RWJF assistant vice president

At the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), our mission is to improve the health and health care of all Americans. Good health and health care are fundamental measures of our success as a nation. That’s why we are pleased to support this year’s TEDMED conference (April 10-13), which brings together leaders from a wide array of medical and non-medical disciplines to explore the future of health and medicine.

In our 40 years, RWJF has learned several lessons that led us to support this year’s TEDMED conference. We’ve learned the importance of working with partners and building on the efforts of others; facilitating collaboration among unlikely allies; resisting the illusion of complete understanding; and being persistent.

For the past several years, RWJF’s Pioneer Portfolio supported the conference because it provided an opportunity to explore emerging trends and network with health care leaders driving innovative solutions to help solve health challenges. Now that the conference has pivoted to focus on Great Challenges in health and health care – issues that cut across the entire Foundation – support for TEDMED in 2012 has become a Foundation-wide endeavor.

This year, RWJF is partnering with TEDMED to help ensure all voices are heard.  TEDMED will present a set of 50 Great Challenges to the TEDMED community that will be narrowed to the most pressing 20. TEDMED selected knowledgeable individuals to serve as “Advocates” for each of the proposed Challenges. The Advocates will circulate among conference attendees – engaging their input around the importance of their individual Challenge and lobbying attendees to include it among their top 20. The Challenges range from childhood obesity to Alzheimer’s, from stress to superbugs, and are deeply rooted problems in health and medicine with multiple, interconnected causes and pathways to solutions.

Each of us could have developed our own list of 50 Great Challenges and no two lists would be identical. However, TEDMED’s proposed challenges are worthy of our attention. The dialogue will produce more engagement, new ideas, and new thinking. And if issues are missing, those attending TEDMED, as well as those participating remotely at partner sites, can add their voices to the discussion. There will also be opportunities to suggest Challenges for future years.

We want to make sure as many as possible can participate in the exchange of ideas and the voting process. To help facilitate the dialogue, RWJF will be gathering TEDMED’s 50 Advocates in the RWJF social space to meet and discuss the 50 Challenges. We invite you to join us. So, whether you’re attending the conference or participating remotely, here's how you, too, can join the conversation:

  • If you’re at TEDMED, stop by the RWJF social space, where the 50 Challenge Advocates will be during the conference’s Social Breaks on Wednesday and Thursday (check the program for specific times for each Advocate).
  • If you’re unable to connect with Advocates in person, use these online tools:

In addition to our activities around the Great Challenges, on Wednesday, April 11, during the session that begins at 8:45 a.m., RWJF President & CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey will be live on the TEDMED stage to speak about the Foundation’s experience in tackling big challenges in health and health care over the past 40 years.

All of us have the unique opportunity to shape the future of TEDMED. This is the start of a great conversation. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Pioneering Ideas blog.