Pioneering Ideas Podcast

Welcome to RWJF's Pioneering Ideas podcast—a bi-monthly podcast for people interested in exploring cutting-edge ideas and emerging trends. We seek to inspire new thinking, spark “aha! moments” and cultivate rich, ongoing conversations. Join us each episode as we talk with visionary thinkers in and outside of health care and discover together new ways to build a Culture of Health.

Listen to the Latest Episode

Exploring the Collaborative Economy Movement (2:44): Learn how drivers of a collaborative economy—waste, redundancy, untapped excess and more—may make areas of health and health care ripe for collaborative marketplaces that create empowerment, access, and efficiency. Visionary author and TED speaker Rachel Botsman (@rachelbotsman) and RWJF program officer Hilary Heishman (@hilaryheishman) explore reimagining the sharing economy within the context of health.

Agile Science (20:48): Can a more open and iterative approach to the research process speed development of effective behavioral interventions? Director of the Designing Health Lab at Arizona State University Eric Hekler (@ehekler) joins RWJF senior program officer Paul Tarini (@PaulTarini) to explore “agile science” and its potential to rapidly create insights, tools and solutions to help people lead healthier lives.

Reimagining Medical Education (34:11): RWJF senior program officer Mike Painter (@paintmd) explores the many ways in which the Foundation’s innovative grantees and others are reimagining medical education. Mike is joined by Khan Academy’s Rishi Desai (@rishidesaimd), Shiv Gaglani (@shivgaglani), co-founder of Osmosis and, Stanford Medicine professor and physician Charles Prober, as well as several students involved in pilot programs from these grantees, including participants of RWJF’s Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (@SMDEPConnect).

Personal Essay: Getting Access to Your Data (49:19): What happens when we want access to our personal data to figure ourselves out? Turns out it’s often more complicated than it seems. Gary Wolf (@agaricus), co-founder of Quantified Self Labs (an RWJF grantee) and contributing editor for Wired, is on a mission to help people get access to and meaning out of their personal data, as part of building a Culture of Health.

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Read quote

“So much of health care suffers from the problem of layers of redundancy and people and processes which make it unnecessarily complex for the person who actually needs them.”

Rachel Botsman, TED

Meet The Host

Lori Melichar

Lori Melichar


Lori Melichar, a labor economist, is a director at the Foundation where she focuses on discovering, exploring and learning from cutting-edge ideas with the potential to help create a Culture of Health.

episode 8


Wellness in a Networked World

In this networked world, what are the implications for health and health care? In this episode we explore how technology can promote well-being by connecting us to our essential self; what our knowledge of social relationships—and social media—can mean for how we design our communities; and how institutions can create organizational cultures where health and socially conscious innovation thrive. Guests include RWJF chief technology and information officer Steve Downs, director and founder of the Affective Computing Research Group at the MIT Media Lab Rosalind PicardRWJF grantees Nicholas Christakis and Eric Klinenberg, RWJF entrepreneur-in-residence Susannah Fox, and visionary writer and speaker Linda Stone, formerly of Apple and Microsoft.

Learn more about the people and topics in this episode.

EPIsode 7


Stress Connections

From monitoring electricity use as a way of helping the elderly stay in their homes, to measuring the indirect health effects of social services (what if heating assistance led to greater medication adherence?), this episode explores unconventional approaches to tackling stress­—and other health problems—with energizing possibilities that could also transform health and health care. Guests include Dr. Paul Tang of the Palo Alto Medical FoundationHarvard economist and TED speaker Sendhil Mullainathan, and entrepreneur and speaker Alexandra Drane.

Learn more about the people and topics in this episode.

Episode 6

Episode 5


Conspiracy Theories, Microbiomes & More

What can belief in conspiracy theories can tell us about health and health care? Listen to the Foundation’s latest thinking on measuring a Culture of Health. What impact can understanding microbiomes have on building a healthier world? Hear an insightful discussion about the ripple effects of sleep on our mental and physical well-being. Guests include grantee Eric Oliver, RWJF's chief science officer and vice president of research-evaluation-learning Alonzo Plough, microbiome scientist Jessica Green and Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan.

Learn more about the people and topics in this episode.

Episode 4


MakerNurse, Visualizing Health Data & More

We explore nurses' bedside innovations, leveraging alternative marketplaces for health, RWJF’s new collaboration Visualizing Health and highlights from the master class conversation at TED 2014. Guests include grantees Kelly Reilly, Roxana Reyna, and Mary Beth Dwyer (MakerNurse), Terry McDonald (St. Vincent de Paul), George Wang (SIRUM), former RWJF entrepreneur in residence Thomas Goetz, designer Tim Leong, University of Michigan's Brian Zikmund-Fisher, game designer Jane McGonigal and IDEO's Tim Brown.

Learn more about the people and topics in this episode.

Episode 3


Empathy, Choice & the Next Generation of Innovators

What can we use social entrepreneurship to impact global health challenges? In this episode we explore entrepreneurship, the science of choosing, and the radical power of empathy. Guests include Swartmore College professor of social theory and social action Barry Schwartz, Columbia University professor of business Sheena Iyengar, Iora Health's Rushika Fernandopulle and Princeton students Azza Cohen and Justin Ziegler.

Learn more about the people and topics in this episode.

Episode 2


Pitch Day, Payment Reform & Behavior Change

How can we best understand how effective behavior change works and how to get the human motivators right in health care? We're also answering questions from listeners and give a sneak peek into RWJF's first-ever Pitch Day. Guests include RWJF's assistant vice president of research-evaluation-learning Brian Quinn, social scientist BJ Fogg, former entrepreneur in residence Thomas Goetz, angel investor Esther Dyson and NPR science correspondent Shankar Vedantam.

Learn more about the people and topics in this episode.

Episode 1


Behavioral Economics, the Science of Placebo Studies & More

What are the pros and cons of making proposals public? Get insight into our funding strategy and explore highlights from the Behavioral Economics Call for Problems. We also cover developing the science of placebo studies and innovating medical practice and research. Guests include RWJF's assistant vice president of research-evaluation-learning Brian Quinn, co-directors of the Foundation's Behavioral Economics Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania Drs. Kevin Volpp and David Asch, grantee and Harvard University professor Ted Kaptchuk and grantee Ben Heywood of PatientsLikeMe.

Learn more about the people and topics in this episode.