Congratulations to Warwick Medical School student Ali Rezaei Haddad, organiser of this year’s Imagining the Future of Medicine conference in partnership with TEDMED, taking place at the Royal Albert Hall on Monday 21 April.
TEDMED is a multi-disciplinary community of innovators and leaders who share a common determination to create a better future in health and medicine.‘Imagining the Future of Medicine’ - will feature a programme of inspiring short talks and artistic performances including a neuroscientist combining her talk with theatrical performance, a surgeon inspired by paintings from the 16th century and performances from a group who entertained millions at the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony.
Below, Ali describes how he became involved in TEDMED.
“I first became involved with TEDMED in 2013 when I got the approval from TEDMED to organise the TEDMED Live Imperial College event for the first time in the UK, held at the Royal Geographic Society for 500 people. This was an event entirely organised by a group of fellow students which hosted live streams from the TEDMED conference in Washington D.C. along with talks from local subject matter experts and a few live demonstrations, including a live brain surgery simulation. The event turned out to be a sold out success and 500 people attended as far as Tokyo and California.
Following the success and the attendees’ encouragement for us to continue the event, I formed an exciting partnership with TEDMED and the world’s most iconic venue, the Royal Albert Hall, to celebrate the medical research that takes place here in the UK and also the power of unexpected connections between the fields of arts, medicine and science - the very principle which lead to the creation of the Royal Albert Hall of the Arts and Sciences.
This year, my involvement with the organisation has escalated as we prepare for the ‘Imagining the Future of Medicine’ event at the Royal Albert Hall. Curator of TEDMED, Jay Walker, will be coming to London to speak at the event as our special guest. Jay is also the creator and curator of a unique and exciting library called 'The Library of the History of Human Imagination', which will feature at the event - a partnership that even inspired our chosen name.
A few years ago, I organised a series of lectures on paediatric oncology at my undergraduate university, Imperial College London. The lecture series discussed important issues in paediatric cancer care and research, but also outlined a venture I had recently launched called the Avicenna Project. The Avicenna Project (avicennaproject.com) is a non-profit initiative dedicated to the construction of a world-class paediatric cancer hospital and research centre in Iran, and the lecture series was the perfect place to engage other students at my university, and talk about what is required for the best children’s cancer care possible.
Following the success of this series of lectures, I began to think about ways to accessibly showcase a variety of topics in health and medicine, and came across the TEDMED organisation. I gained permissions to curate TEDMED Live Imperial College at the Royal Geographic Society, and asked a team of students at my university to help me coordinate the event. After months of organisation, TEDMED Live Imperial College was a real success with 500 people from over 15 different countries in attendance, and some really encouraging feedback from members of the audience. One delegate had even noted, “great programme, you should do next year’s at the Royal Albert Hall”… little did they know the wheels had already been put in motion for 2014!
So my journey really started with the Avicenna Project, which prompted me to start a small scale discussion on children’s cancer care with students in London, which in turn prompted my desire to curate the 2013 TEDMED Live Imperial programme. And now, ‘Imagining the Future of Medicine’ at the Royal Albert Hall is only a few days away.
In a relatively short space of time, we’ve gone from 50 people in one lecture theatre with 2 experts from Great Ormond Street Hospitals at Imperial College London, to an all day programme for 4,500 people in the Royal Albert Hall with an exceptional line up of world-class experts, performers and musicians!
The event is being streamed worldwide for free (you will be able to access it from our website on the day imaginemedicine.com) and live blogged in more than 4 languages. I’m really looking forward to seeing how people around the world respond to this unique opportunity to engage with our programme as we aim to deliver a year’s worth of ideas, insights and inspiration about the world of medicine in just one day at the world’s most iconic venue.
Unfortunately many conferences around the world charge considerable fees, and it only gives the opportunity for those who have found their place in society to engage with their speakers and attend the conferences. But I strongly believe that is the wrong target audience, conferences should be accessible to the younger generation and that is who we should be inspiring. I don’t recall any other event with such a lineup being quite s aaccessible at such a venue, it’s been a great challenge but I am sure it was well worth it and we will inspire a few people at least out of the thousands watching us and help them find their place in the world and hopefully contribute to a healthier future.
These have definitely been the most challenging months of my life, trying to balance my commitment to medicine at Warwick and also curating this event - but I just cannot wait to see it all finally come together- and then hopefully pass my exams a few weeks later!
There are so many great challenges for the future of Health and Medicine. In our event alone, we hear about the importance of ‘moment of impact’ trauma research, the applications of mobile health technologies, and pathways to achieving good end of life care.
Creativity is quite important in science, and hence medicine. We should always be prepared to be inspired by novel ways of thinking and new avenues of endeavour, but unfortunately I find most current research and teaching follows a very strict pattern or regiment, that really doesn’t allow much room for going off on tangents, or exploring beyond. Curiosity and passion are key for me, having the power to go beyond what is expected of us and exploring. Hence this is exactly why I curated three sessions under the titles of 'Medicine Without Borders', looking into global health and global medical innovation; 'Thinking Outside the Box', investigating emerging perspectives in modern medicine; and 'Translating the Untranslatable', visiting medical concepts not fully understood. And all united under the central theme of 'Imagining the Future of Medicine.'
Every transformer once understood that both art and science are about expressing our creativity in ways that lead to a deeper understanding of our world. Science allows us to better appreciate the world around us – what it consists of and how it works – and art allows us to engage our imagination to better understand a more idealized world – what we can become, with change and imagination, to create a more vibrant and healthier society."