Ending the Arms Race with Infectious Diseases – Janelle Ayres at TEDxSanDiego 2016

There’s a war going on in the U.S. that you may not know exists.

“The scary fact is that it’s an arms race that we can never win,” said Janelle Ayres to start her talk at TEDxSanDiego.

So what is this war Ayres speaks of that is not winnable? Infectious diseases.

No, there are no real guns and ammunition involved in this war, but doctors and scientists have been throwing an arsenal of antibiotics at infectious diseases for many, many years to no avail.

Dr. Ayres, who has a PhD from Stanford University School of Medicine in Microbiology and Immunology, focuses her research on both infectious and non-infectious diseases, particularly the microbiome living on our bodies, as a means to end these diseases and prevent antibiotic resistance.

“Instead of asking ‘how do we fight infections?’ we should be asking ‘how do we survive infections?’,” Ayres said. “And I know that single word change from fight to survive seems simple, but by making that single change, we’ve completely changed the meaning of the question. And if we can understand the answer to this question, we will completely change the way we treat infectious diseases.”

Ayres and her team at the Salk Institute are working on developing strategies that promote survival without driving drug resistance – all to find a way to win the war against pestilence.

“We’re all vulnerable to the threat of contracting an infectious disease, and we’re all terrified of that threat,” she said. “But if you leave here with one thing today, I want you to leave here believing that there’s hope.”

Janelle Ayres Profile

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Postcards from the Future – Scott Klemmer at TEDxSanDiego 2016

Chances are someone in your life has imparted on you the mantra “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

In the world of design, this idea becomes a key aspect of prototypes. In fact, the very definition of prototype is “a first, typical or preliminary model of something, especially a machine, from which other forms are developed or copied.”

So why are prototypes so important to the world of design? According to Scott Klemmer, when you log onto a computer, chances are you’re part of an experiment. Here, designers are trying out different alternatives (or prototypes) to see what works best.

“I call this idea design at large,” said Klemmer, the co-founder and co-director of the Design Lab at UC San Diego. “It’s real world, at scale, and we’re being able to compare alternatives and learn from what we’re finding.”

During his talk at TEDxSanDiego, Klemmer went on to give various examples of prototypes that at first did not succeed, not because the people were necessarily smarter than others around them (although yes, they were really smart), but because they tried lots of things.

So what makes prototypes particularly magical?

“Prototypes instantiate a future that doesn’t exist yet,” said Klemmer. “And what designers do is we time travel just a little bit into the future with our prototypes and once we know what the world is like there we can send back these post cards that give information about what to really make.”

Scott Klemmer Profile

Scott Klemmer on Twitter

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Making Peace with the Portrait – Kelly Mellos at TEDxSanDiego 2016

What is it about the human face that is so engaging and powerful?

You often hear that someone is the face of a movement, or the face of change. But what does that really mean? Does simply looking someone in the face, really taking a moment to study that person’s face – at the surface and beyond – have the power to bring about peace?

Artist Kelly Mellos, who left her life in the corporate business world to pursue a career in portraiture, toyed with this concept when she brought together a group of Palestinian and Israeli students and asked them to sit face-to-face and draw portraits of each other.

For Mellos, painting brings about a presence. When she runs her pencil or paintbrush over a face, she “softens into feelings of lucidity and deep reverence within the light of (her) subject.” Could the same feelings be stirred up in those who have been taught to be enemies?

“I thought there might be a possibility of transforming helplessness into hope,” she said. In a portrait workshop group through a peace program called Hands of Peace, Mellos got to test out her theory among teens who rarely get to meet and get to know one another.

The resulting workshop was an intriguing look into the power of humanity and the human face.

Kelly Mellos Website

Hands of Peace

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