Why TEDMED Chose Boston

February 11, 2020
MassDigitalHealth.org Editors

Interview with TEDMED COO, Shirley Bergin

There are many different TED events and talks. What’s the story behind TEDMED?

The TED brand has certainly expanded over the years. TEDMED was created by the same person who created TED over 35 years ago. The thinking behind TEDMED centered around the need and desire to have a TED brand devoted solely to health and medicine. We employ the same powerful concept as TED, sharing “ideas worth spreading”, but for TEDMED, those ideas are specifically connected to health, medicine, and scientific discovery. Although we are separate entities, we work very closely with our colleagues at TED to share a number of TEDMED Talks across TED’s platform including on TED.com and the TED Radio Hour each year. While TEDMED is best known for our annual event, we also work with our partners to host year-round programming, aligning the TEDMED brand with industry thought leaders and important initiatives working to shape a healthier humanity. 

Past TEDMED events were held in California and Washington, D.C. This is the first time the event will be held in Boston. Why Boston and why now?

We are very proud to have hosted TEDMED from coast to coast, enabling people from many regions to participate in-person at our annual gathering. There is so much happening in Boston in the world of health and medicine: from industry-leading companies, world-class academic institutions, some of the nation’s top-ranked hospitals, the country’s highest number of arts and cultural organizations per capita, and an impressive entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports a cutting-edge health tech start-up culture. It really felt like the perfect fit. We’re excited to be back on the East Coast, making it easier for some of our community members to join us, while also opening up the opportunity to new people to experience TEDMED. Boston has so much to offer and we can’t wait to host TEDMED 2020 in this amazing city.

Who are some of the Massachusetts companies and thinkers attendees will hear from at TEDMED?

We’re so fortunate at TEDMED to have such a large, diverse community of speakers, innovators, partners and attendees from all over the globe. Over the years we’ve had amazing representatives from Massachusetts, and this year will be no different. We are excited to have Jonathan Gruber speaking at TEDMED who was, of course, a key architect of the state’s health reform effort. Along with rockstar physicians and scientists including Anupam B. Jena, Amit Choudhary, Shekinah Elmore, and Thomas Abt. 

In addition to TEDMED speakers, we will also feature the work of some amazing Massachusetts-based innovators as part of a program we call the “TEDMED Hive.” We’re excited to have Mercy Asiedu of Calla Health Foundation and Andrew Le of Buoy, just to name a couple. And, we are thrilled to have some former TEDMED Hive Innovators back to TEDMED, including David Lucchino of Frequency Tx and Laura Indolfi of PanTher Therapeutics. 

Many of our partners have presences in Boston as well, including Deloitte, Abbott, Sanofi and Humana, who just recently opened Studio H down in the Seaport District. And, we’ve loved working with the teams at STAT News, Mass Challenge, MassBio, and Mass Tech Collaborative.    

The theme for this year’s event is ‘Make Way For Wonder.’ What’s the inspiration for that and how does it relate to this year’s event in Boston?

We are living in an era of amazing possibilities and achievements happening in every single field, and we spend so much of our time head-down, pushing forward and advancing this important work. We want to provide people the opportunity to intentionally take a pause, a step back, and embrace the wonder that is part of all of these advancements. Our hope is that by reveling in this wonder, and connecting across disciplines, we can each return to our work with a wider perspective and renewed sense of purpose in advancing humanity’s health. 

What programs or speakers at TEDMED are you most looking forward to?

Answering this question is like picking a favorite child! I am so proud of our program and community as a whole. I am honestly looking forward to each and every moment of TEDMED 2020: from our partner-hosted events to the Hive Innovators who will share their work with us, to the speakers who will take the stage, to the friends who make up the TEDMED community. Every person at TEDMED is an essential part of this amazing gathering, and I’m most looking forward to the unbelievable conversations that will take place across the 2.5 days of TEDMED 2020.

Register for TEDMED2020 at TedMed.com.