TEDTalks Health

TEDTalks Health

www.ted.com/themes/itunes_podcasts_health
From way-new medical breakthroughs to smart daily health habits, doctors and researchers share their discoveries about medicine and well-being onstage at the TED conference, TEDx events and partner events around the world. You can also download these and many other videos free on TED.com, with an interactive English transcript and subtitles in up to 80 languages. TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.


How synthetic biology could wipe out humanity — and how we can stop it | Rob Reid
Jun 18 • 16 min
The world-changing promise of synthetic biology and gene editing has a dark side. In this far-seeing talk, author and entrepreneur Rob Reid reviews the risks of a world where more and more people have access to the tools and tech needed to create a…
What you should know about vaping and e-cigarettes | Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin
May 15 • 14 min
E-cigarettes and vapes have exploded in popularity in the last decade, especially among youth and young adults — from 2011 to 2015, e-cigarette use among high school students in the US increased by 900 percent. Biobehavioral scientist Suchitra…
Could a tattoo help you stay healthy? | Carson Bruns
May 14 • 10 min
Can we make tattoos both beautiful and functional? Nanotechnologist Carson Bruns shares his work creating high-tech tattoos that react to their environment — like color-changing ink that can tell you when you’re getting a sunburn — and shows exciting ways…
Sleep is your superpower | Matt Walker
May 10 • 19 min
Sleep is your life-support system and Mother Nature’s best effort yet at immortality, says sleep scientist Matt Walker. In this deep dive into the science of slumber, Walker shares the wonderfully good things that happen when you get sleep — and the…
How your brain’s executive function works — and how to improve it | Sabine Doebel
May 9 • 9 min
You use your brain’s executive function every day — it’s how you do things like pay attention, plan ahead and control impulses. Can you improve it to change for the better? With highlights from her research on child development, cognitive scientist Sabine…
The surprising connection between brain injuries and crime | Kim Gorgens
Apr 25 • 11 min
Here’s a shocking statistic: 50 to 80 percent of people in the criminal justice system in the US have had a traumatic brain injury. In the general public, that number is less than five percent. Neuropsychologist Kim Gorgens shares her research into the…
An AI smartwatch that detects seizures | Rosalind Picard
Apr 5 • 15 min
Every year worldwide, more than 50,000 otherwise healthy people with epilepsy suddenly die — a condition known as SUDEP. These deaths may be largely preventable, says AI researcher Rosalind Picard. Learn how Picard helped develop a cutting-edge smartwatch…
A new class of drug that could prevent depression and PTSD | Rebecca Brachman
Mar 26 • 5 min
Current treatments for depression and PTSD only suppress symptoms, if they work at all. What if we could prevent these diseases from developing altogether? Neuroscientist and TED Fellow Rebecca Brachman shares the story of her team’s accidental discovery…
The “dementia village” that’s redefining elder care | Yvonne van Amerongen
Mar 11 • 10 min
How would you prefer to spend the last years of your life: in a sterile, hospital-like institution or in a village with a supermarket, pub, theater and park within easy walking distance? The answer seems obvious now, but when Yvonne van Amerongen helped…
What if all US health care costs were transparent? | Jeanne Pinder
Feb 20 • 7 min
In the US, the very same blood test can cost $19 at one clinic and $522 at another clinic just blocks away — and nobody knows the difference until they get a bill weeks later. Journalist Jeanne Pinder says it doesn’t have to be this way. She’s built a…
How doctors can help low-income patients (and still make a profit) | P.J. Parmar
Feb 12 • 10 min
Modern American health care is defined by its high costs, high overhead and inaccessibility — especially for low-income patients. What if we could redesign the system to serve the poor and still have doctors make money? In an eye-opening (and surprisingly…
Why noise is bad for your health — and what you can do about it | Mathias Basner
Feb 12 • 10 min
Silence is a rare commodity these days. There’s traffic, construction, air-conditioning, your neighbor’s lawnmower … and all this unwanted sound can have a surprising impact on your health, says noise researcher Mathias Basner. Discover the science behind…
What your breath could reveal about your health | Julian Burschka
Feb 7 • 13 min
There’s no better way to stop a disease than to catch and treat it early, before symptoms occur. That’s the whole point of medical screening techniques like radiography, MRIs and blood tests. But there’s one medium with overlooked potential for medical…
A life-saving device that detects silent heart attacks | Akash Manoj
Jan 17 • 8 min
You probably know the common symptoms of a heart attack: chest and arm pain, shortness of breath and fatigue. But there’s another kind that’s just as deadly and harder to detect because the symptoms are silent. In this quick talk, 17-year-old inventor…
In the opioid crisis, here’s what it takes to save a life | Jan Rader
Jan 2 • 14 min
As a fire chief and first responder, Jan Rader has spent her career saving lives. But when the opioid epidemic hit her town, she realized they needed to take a brand-new approach to life-saving. In this powerful, hopeful talk, Rader shows what it’s like…
How isolation fuels opioid addiction | Rachel Wurzman
Oct 29, 2018 • 18 min
What do Tourette syndrome, heroin addiction and social media obsession all have in common? They converge in an area of the brain called the striatum, says neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman — and this critical discovery could reshape our understanding of the…
What Americans agree on when it comes to health | Rebecca Onie
Oct 10, 2018 • 12 min
We may not be as deeply divided as we think — at least when it comes to health, says Rebecca Onie. In a talk that cuts through the noise, Onie shares research that shows how, even across economic, political and racial divides, Americans agree on what they…
What doctors should know about gender identity | Kristie Overstreet
Oct 2, 2018 • 14 min
Kristie Overstreet is on a mission to ensure that the transgender community gets their health care needs met. In this informative, myth-busting talk, she provides a primer for understanding gender identity and invites us to shift how we view transgender…
How we could teach our bodies to heal faster | Kaitlyn Sadtler
Sep 20, 2018 • 4 min
What if we could help our bodies heal faster and without scars, like Wolverine in X-Men? TED Fellow Kaitlyn Sadtler is working to make this dream a reality by developing new biomaterials that could change how our immune system responds to injuries. In…
Why the hospital of the future will be your own home | Niels van Namen
Sep 19, 2018 • 11 min
Nobody likes going to the hospital, whether it’s because of the logistical challenges of getting there, the astronomical costs of procedures or the alarming risks of complications like antibiotic-resistant bacteria. But what if we could get the lifesaving…
How to create a world where no one dies waiting for a transplant | Luhan Yang
Sep 13, 2018 • 13 min
For nearly half a century, scientists have been trying to create a process for transplanting animal organs into humans, a theoretical dream that could help the hundreds of thousands of people in need of a lifesaving transplant. But the risks, specifically…
A new way to fund health care for the most vulnerable | Andrew Bastawrous
Sep 10, 2018 • 11 min
In 2011, eye surgeon and TED Fellow Andrew Bastawrous developed a smartphone app that brings quality eye care to remote communities, helping people avoid losing their sight to curable or preventable conditions. Along the way, he noticed a problem: strict…
A love letter to realism in a time of grief | Simone George
Sep 7, 2018 • 19 min
When faced with life’s toughest circumstances, how should we respond: as an optimist, a realist or something else? In an unforgettable talk, explorer Mark Pollock and human rights lawyer Simone George explore the tension between acceptance and hope in…
What commercialization is doing to cannabis | Ben Cort
Sep 5, 2018 • 16 min
In 2012, Colorado legalized cannabis and added to what has fast become a multibillion-dollar global industry for all things weed-related: from vape pens to brownies and beyond. But to say that we’ve legalized marijuana is subtly misleading — what we’ve…
How cancer cells communicate — and how we can slow them down | Hasini Jayatilaka
Aug 16, 2018 • 10 min
When cancer cells are closely packed together in a tumor, they’re able to communicate with each other and coordinate their movement throughout the body. What if we could interrupt this process? In this accessible talk about cutting-edge science, Hasini…
You may be accidentally investing in cigarette companies | Bronwyn King
Jul 26, 2018 • 14 min
Tobacco causes more than seven million deaths every year — and many of us are far more complicit in the problem than we realize. In a bold talk, oncologist Dr. Bronwyn King tells the story of how she uncovered the deep ties between the tobacco industry…
The agony of opioid withdrawal — and what doctors should tell patients about it | Travis Rieder
Jun 28, 2018 • 14 min
The United States accounts for five percent of the world’s population but consumes almost 70 percent of the total global opioid supply, creating an epidemic that has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths each year. How did we get here, and what can we…
What if we eliminated one of the world’s oldest diseases? | Caroline Harper
Jun 26, 2018 • 10 min
Thousands of years ago, ancient Nubians drew pictures on tomb walls of a terrible disease that turns the eyelids inside out and causes blindness. This disease, trachoma, is still a scourge in many parts of the world today — but it’s also completely…
How we can bring mental health support to refugees | Essam Daod
Jun 20, 2018 • 5 min
The global refugee crisis is a mental health catastrophe, leaving millions in need of psychological support to overcome the traumas of dislocation and conflict. To undo the damage, child psychiatrist and TED Fellow Essam Daod has been working in camps,…
The critical role librarians play in the opioid crisis | Chera Kowalski
Jun 5, 2018 • 12 min
Public libraries have always been about more than just books — and their mission of community support has taken on new urgency during the current opioid epidemic. After witnessing overdoses at her library in Philadelphia, Chera Kowalski learned how to…
How to start a conversation about suicide | Jeremy Forbes
May 24, 2018 • 12 min
Is there someone in your life dealing with anxiety, depression or thoughts of suicide — but is too ashamed to talk about it? Jeremy Forbes saw this happening around him, and now he’s on a mission to teach people how to start a conversation about it. In…
The harm reduction model of drug addiction treatment | Mark Tyndall
Apr 18, 2018 • 16 min
Why do we still think that drug use is a law-enforcement issue? Making drugs illegal does nothing to stop people from using them, says public health expert Mark Tyndall. So, what might work? Tyndall shares community-based research that shows how…
Math can help uncover cancer’s secrets | Irina Kareva
Apr 3, 2018 • 7 min
Irina Kareva translates biology into mathematics and vice versa. She writes mathematical models that describe the dynamics of cancer, with the goal of developing new drugs that target tumors. “The power and beauty of mathematical modeling lies in the fact…
Our fight for disability rights — and why we’re not done yet | Judith Heumann
Mar 30, 2018 • 17 min
Four decades ago, Judith Heumann helped to lead a groundbreaking protest called the Section 504 sit-in — in which disabled-rights activists occupied a federal building for almost a month, demanding greater accessibility for all. In this personal,…
What if we paid doctors to keep people healthy? | Matthias Müllenbeck
Mar 26, 2018 • 10 min
What if we incentivized doctors to keep us healthy instead of paying them only when we’re already sick? Matthias Müllenbeck explains how this radical shift from a sick care system to a true health care system could save us from unnecessary costs and risky…
A rite of passage for late life | Bob Stein
Mar 20, 2018 • 5 min
We use rituals to mark the early stages of our lives, like birthdays and graduations — but what about our later years? In this meditative talk about looking both backward and forward, Bob Stein proposes a new tradition of giving away your things (and…
Can I have your brain? The quest for truth on concussions and CTE | Chris Nowinski
Mar 19, 2018 • 11 min
Something strange and deadly is happening inside the brains of top athletes — a degenerative condition, possibly linked to concussions, that causes dementia, psychosis and far-too-early death. It’s called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, and it’s…
What I learned when I conquered the world’s toughest triathlon | Minda Dentler
Mar 5, 2018 • 13 min
A 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and then a full-length marathon on hot, dry ground — with no breaks in between: the legendary Ironman triathlon in Kona, Hawaii, is a bucket list goal for champion athletes. But when Minda Dentler decided to take…
How to connect with depressed friends | Bill Bernat
Mar 2, 2018 • 13 min
Want to connect with a depressed friend but not sure how to relate to them? Comedian and storyteller Bill Bernat has a few suggestions. Learn some dos and don’ts for talking to people living with depression — and handle your next conversation with grace…
The brain-changing benefits of exercise | Wendy Suzuki
Feb 28, 2018 • 13 min
What’s the most transformative thing that you can do for your brain today? Exercise! says neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki. Get inspired to go to the gym as Suzuki discusses the science of how working out boosts your mood and memory — and protects your brain…
Why I train grandmothers to treat depression | Dixon Chibanda
Feb 14, 2018 • 12 min
Dixon Chibanda is one of 12 psychiatrists in Zimbabwe — for a population of more than 16 million. Realizing that his country would never be able to scale traditional methods of treating those with mental health issues, Chibanda helped to develop a…
The dangerous evolution of HIV | Edsel Salvaña
Jan 23, 2018 • 4 min
Think we’re winning the battle against HIV? Maybe not, as the next wave of drug-resistant viruses arrives. In an eye-opening talk, TED Fellow Edsel Salvana describes the aggressive HIV subtype AE that’s currently plaguing his home of the Philippines — and…
The hidden role informal caregivers play in health care | Scott Williams
Jan 17, 2018 • 9 min
Once a cared-for patient and now a caregiver himself, Scott Williams highlights the invaluable role of informal caregivers — those friends and relatives who, out of love, go the extra mile for patients in need. From personal care to advocacy to emotional…
Talk about your death while you’re still healthy | Michelle Knox
Jan 16, 2018 • 13 min
Do you know what you want when you die? Do you know how you want to be remembered? In a candid, heartfelt talk about a subject most of us would rather not discuss, Michelle Knox asks each of us to reflect on our core values around death and share them…
Medical tech designed to meet Africa’s needs | Soyapi Mumba
Jan 9, 2018 • 5 min
In sub-Saharan Africa, power outages, low technology penetration, slow internet and understaffed hospitals plague health care systems. To make progress on these problems in Malawi, TED Fellow Soyapi Mumba and his team created a new system from scratch —…
Our treatment of HIV has advanced. Why hasn’t the stigma changed? | Arik Hartmann
Jan 4, 2018 • 17 min
The treatment of HIV has significantly advanced over the past three decades — why hasn’t our perception of people with the disease advanced along with it? After being diagnosed with HIV, Arik Hartmann chose to live transparently, being open about his…
Want to get great at something? Get a coach | Atul Gawande
Dec 15, 2017 • 16 min
How do we improve in the face of complexity? Atul Gawande has studied this question with a surgeon’s precision. He shares what he’s found to be the key: having a good coach to provide a more accurate picture of our reality, to instill positive habits of…
A new weapon in the fight against superbugs | David Brenner
Dec 14, 2017 • 10 min
Since the widespread use of antibiotics began in the 1940s, we’ve tried to develop new drugs faster than bacteria can evolve — but this strategy isn’t working. Drug-resistant bacteria known as superbugs killed nearly 700,000 people last year, and by 2050…
The brain benefits of deep sleep — and how to get more of it | Dan Gartenberg
Dec 5, 2017 • 6 min
There’s nothing quite like a good night’s sleep. What if technology could help us get more out of it? Dan Gartenberg is working on tech that stimulates deep sleep, the most regenerative stage which (among other wonderful things) might help us consolidate…
The science of cells that never get old | Elizabeth Blackburn
Nov 27, 2017 • 18 min
What makes our bodies age … our skin wrinkle, our hair turn white, our immune systems weaken? Biologist Elizabeth Blackburn shares a Nobel Prize for her work finding out the answer, with the discovery of telomerase: an enzyme that replenishes the caps at…
I don’t want children — stop telling me I’ll change my mind | Christen Reighter
Nov 16, 2017 • 14 min
One in five women in the United States will not have a biological child, and Christen Reighter is one of them. From a young age, she knew she didn’t want kids, in spite of the insistence of many people (including her doctor) who told her she’d change her…
The surprisingly charming science of your gut | Giulia Enders
Nov 2, 2017 • 14 min
Ever wonder how we poop? Learn about the gut — the system where digestion (and a whole lot more) happens — as doctor and author Giulia Enders takes us inside the complex, fascinating science behind it, including its connection to mental health. It turns…
We can hack our immune cells to fight cancer | Elizabeth Wayne
Oct 17, 2017 • 5 min
After decades of research and billions spent in clinical trials, we still have a problem with cancer drug delivery, says biomedical engineer Elizabeth Wayne. Chemotherapy kills cancer — but it kills the rest of your body, too. Instead of using human…
Don’t suffer from your depression in silence | Nikki Webber Allen
Oct 5, 2017 • 6 min
Having feelings isn’t a sign of weakness — they mean we’re human, says producer and activist Nikki Webber Allen. Even after being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, Webber Allen felt too ashamed to tell anybody, keeping her condition a secret until a…
How digital DNA could help you make better health choices | Jun Wang
Sep 18, 2017 • 14 min
What if you could know exactly how food or medication would impact your health — before you put it in your body? Genomics researcher Jun Wang is working to develop digital doppelgangers for real people; they start with genetic code, but they’ll also…
A forgotten ancient grain that could help Africa prosper | Pierre Thiam
Sep 13, 2017 • 15 min
Forget quinoa. Meet fonio, an ancient “miracle grain” native to Senegal that’s versatile, nutritious and gluten-free. In this passionate talk, chef Pierre Thiam shares his obsession with the hardy crop and explains why he believes that its…
The secret to living longer may be your social life | Susan Pinker
Aug 18, 2017 • 16 min
The Italian island of Sardinia has more than six times as many centenarians as the mainland and ten times as many as North America. Why? According to psychologist Susan Pinker, it’s not a sunny disposition or a low-fat, gluten-free diet that keeps the…
Let’s end ageism | Ashton Applewhite
Aug 9, 2017 • 11 min
It’s not the passage of time that makes it so hard to get older. It’s ageism, a prejudice that pits us against our future selves — and each other. Ashton Applewhite urges us to dismantle the dread and mobilize against the last socially acceptable…
A simple new blood test that can catch cancer early | Jimmy Lin
Jul 25, 2017 • 12 min
Jimmy Lin is developing technologies to catch cancer months to years before current methods. He shares a breakthrough technique that looks for small signals of cancer’s presence via a simple blood test, detecting the recurrence of some forms of the…
Lifesaving scientific tools made of paper | Manu Prakash
Jul 10, 2017 • 13 min
Inventor Manu Prakash turns everyday materials into powerful scientific devices, from paper microscopes to a clever new mosquito tracker. From the TED Fellows stage, he demos Paperfuge, a hand-powered centrifuge inspired by a spinning toy that costs 20…
Science didn’t understand my kids’ rare disease until I decided to study it | Sharon Terry
Jun 15, 2017 • 15 min
Meet Sharon Terry, a former college chaplain and stay-at-home mom who took the medical research world by storm when her two young children were diagnosed with a rare disease known as pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE). In this knockout talk, Terry explains…
When I die, recompose me | Katrina Spade
Jun 14, 2017 • 12 min
What if our bodies could help grow new life after we die, instead of being embalmed and buried or turned to ash? Join Katrina Spade as she discusses “recomposition” — a system that uses the natural decomposition process to turn our deceased into…
No one should die because they live too far from a doctor | Raj Panjabi
Jun 1, 2017 • 20 min
Illness is universal — but access to care is not. Physician Raj Panjabi has a bold vision to bring health care to everyone, everywhere. With the 2017 TED Prize, Panjabi is building the Community Health Academy, a global platform that aims to modernize how…
The trauma of systematic racism is killing Black women. A first step toward change… | Vanessa Garrison
May 19, 2017 • 15 min
T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, founders of the health nonprofit GirlTrek, are on a mission to reduce the leading causes of preventable death among Black women — and build communities in the process. How? By getting one million women and girls to…
There’s no shame in taking care of your mental health | Sangu Delle
May 4, 2017 • 9 min
When stress got to be too much for TED Fellow Sangu Delle, he had to confront his own deep prejudice: that men shouldn’t take care of their mental health. In a personal talk, Delle shares how he learned to handle anxiety in a society that’s uncomfortable…
What you can do to prevent Alzheimer’s | Lisa Genova
Apr 28, 2017 • 13 min
Alzheimer’s doesn’t have to be your brain’s destiny, says neuroscientist and author of “Still Alice,” Lisa Genova. She shares the latest science investigating the disease — and some promising research on what each of us can do to build an…
A video game to cope with grief | Amy Green
Apr 19, 2017 • 10 min
When Amy Green’s young son was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, she made up a bedtime story for his siblings to teach them about cancer. What resulted was a video game, “That Dragon, Cancer,” which takes players on a journey they can’t win. In this…
A simple birth kit for mothers in the developing world | Zubaida Bai
Apr 13, 2017 • 6 min
TED Fellow Zubaida Bai works with medical professionals, midwives and mothers to bring dignity and low-cost interventions to women’s health care. In this quick, inspiring talk, she presents her clean birth kit in a purse, which contains everything a new…
An intergalactic guide to using a defibrillator | Todd Scott
Apr 12, 2017 • 5 min
If Yoda goes into cardiac arrest, will you know what to do? Artist and first-aid enthusiast Todd Scott breaks down what you need to know about using an automated external defibrillator, or AED — in this galaxy and ones that are far, far away. Prepare to…
How racism makes us sick | David R. Williams
Apr 6, 2017 • 17 min
Why does race matter so profoundly for health? David R. Williams developed a scale to measure the impact of discrimination on well-being, going beyond traditional measures like income and education to reveal how factors like implicit bias, residential…
Addiction is a disease. We should treat it like one | Michael Botticelli
Mar 29, 2017 • 10 min
Only one in nine people in the United States gets the care and treatment they need for addiction and substance abuse. A former Director of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli is working to end this epidemic and treat people with addictions…
A burial practice that nourishes the planet | Caitlin Doughty
Mar 13, 2017 • 11 min
Here’s a question we all have to answer sooner or later: What do you want to happen to your body when you die? Funeral director Caitlin Doughty explores new ways to prepare us for inevitable mortality. In this thoughtful talk, learn more about ideas for…
What I learned from 2,000 obituaries | Lux Narayan
Mar 1, 2017 • 6 min
Lux Narayan starts his day with scrambled eggs and the question: “Who died today?” Why? By analyzing 2,000 New York Times obituaries over a 20-month period, Narayan gleaned, in just a few words, what achievement looks like over a lifetime. Here he shares…
How racism harms pregnant women — and what can help | Miriam Zoila Pérez
Feb 13, 2017 • 12 min
Racism is making people sick — especially black women and babies, says Miriam Zoila Pérez. The doula turned journalist explores the relationship between race, class and illness and tells us about a radically compassionate prenatal care program that can…
New nanotech to detect cancer early | Joshua Smith
Feb 8, 2017 • 12 min
What if every home had an early-warning cancer detection system? Researcher Joshua Smith is developing a nanobiotechnology “cancer alarm” that scans for traces of disease in the form of special biomarkers called exosomes. In this forward-thinking talk, he…
Could a drug prevent depression and PTSD? | Rebecca Brachman
Dec 14, 2016 • 18 min
The path to better medicine is paved with accidental yet revolutionary discoveries. In this well-told tale of how science happens, neuroscientist Rebecca Brachman shares news of a serendipitous breakthrough treatment that may prevent mental disorders like…
We can start winning the war against cancer | Adam de la Zerda
Oct 5, 2016 • 12 min
Learn about the latest advances in the war against cancer from Stanford researcher Adam de la Zerda, who’s working on some cutting-edge techniques of his own. Using a remarkable imaging technology that illuminates cancer-seeking gold particles injected…
A new way to heal hearts without surgery | Franz Freudenthal
Sep 9, 2016 • 9 min
At the intersection of medical invention and indigenous culture, pediatric cardiologist Franz Freudenthal mends holes in the hearts of children across the world, using a device born from traditional Bolivian loom weaving. “The most complex problems in our…
What we can do to die well | Timothy Ihrig
Aug 23, 2016 • 13 min
The healthcare industry in America is so focused on pathology, surgery and pharmacology — on what doctors “do” to patients — that it often overlooks the values of the human beings it’s supposed to care for. Palliative care physician Timothy Ihrig explains…
The taboo secret to better health | Molly Winter
Aug 10, 2016 • 12 min
Our poop and pee have superpowers, but for the most part we don’t harness them. Molly Winter faces down our squeamishness and asks us to see what goes down the toilet as a resource, one that can help fight climate change, spur innovation and even save us…
How barbershops can keep men healthy | Joseph Ravenell
May 26, 2016 • 13 min
The barbershop can be a safe haven for black men, a place for honest conversation and trust — and, as physician Joseph Ravenell suggests, a good place to bring up tough topics about health. He’s turning the barbershop into a place to talk about medical…
Your words may predict your future mental health | Mariano Sigman
May 24, 2016 • 12 min
Can the way you speak and write today predict your future mental state, even the onset of psychosis? In this fascinating talk, neuroscientist Mariano Sigman reflects on ancient Greece and the origins of introspection to investigate how our words hint at…
Good news in the fight against pancreatic cancer | Laura Indolfi
May 17, 2016 • 6 min
Anyone who has lost a loved one to pancreatic cancer knows the devastating speed with which it can affect an otherwise healthy person. TED Fellow and biomedical entrepreneur Laura Indolfi is developing a revolutionary way to treat this complex and lethal…
Simple hacks for life with Parkinson’s | Mileha Soneji
Mar 10, 2016 • 6 min
Simple solutions are often best, even when dealing with something as complicated as Parkinson’s. In this inspiring talk, Mileha Soneji shares accessible designs that make the everyday tasks of those living with Parkinson’s a bit easier. “Technology is not…
What really happens when you mix medications? | Russ Altman
Mar 2, 2016 • 14 min
If you take two different medications for two different reasons, here’s a sobering thought: your doctor may not fully understand what happens when they’re combined, because drug interactions are incredibly hard to study. In this fascinating and accessible…
The brain may be able to repair itself — with help | Jocelyne Bloch
Feb 15, 2016 • 11 min
Through treating everything from strokes to car accident traumas, neurosurgeon Jocelyne Bloch knows the brain’s inability to repair itself all too well. But now, she suggests, she and her colleagues may have found the key to neural repair:…
How we’ll fight the next deadly virus | Pardis Sabeti
Feb 4, 2016 • 9 min
When Ebola broke out in March 2014, Pardis Sabeti and her team got to work sequencing the virus’s genome, learning how it mutated and spread. Sabeti immediately released her research online, so virus trackers and scientists from around the world could…
How to stay calm when you know you’ll be stressed | Daniel Levitin
Oct 30, 2015 • 12 min
You’re not at your best when you’re stressed. In fact, your brain has evolved over millennia to release cortisol in stressful situations, inhibiting rational, logical thinking but potentially helping you survive, say, being attacked by a lion.…
4 powerful poems about Parkinson’s and growing older | Robin Morgan
Sep 25, 2015 • 11 min
When poet Robin Morgan found herself facing Parkinson’s disease, she distilled her experiences into these four quietly powerful poems — meditating on age, loss, and the simple power of noticing.
How young blood might help reverse aging. Yes, really | Tony Wyss-Coray
Aug 19, 2015 • 13 min
Tony Wyss-Coray studies the impact of aging on the human body and brain. In this eye-opening talk, he shares new research from his Stanford lab and other teams which shows that a solution for some of the less great aspects of old age might actually lie…
Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong | Johann Hari
Jul 9, 2015 • 14 min
What really causes addiction — to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail firsthand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we…
What do we do when antibiotics don’t work any more? | Maryn McKenna
Jun 25, 2015 • 16 min
Penicillin changed everything. Infections that had previously killed were suddenly quickly curable. Yet as Maryn McKenna shares in this sobering talk, we’ve squandered the advantages afforded us by that and later antibiotics. Drug-resistant bacteria mean…
Physical therapy is boring — play a game instead | Cosmin Mihaiu
May 19, 2015 • 5 min
You’ve just been injured, and you’re on the way home from an hour of physical therapy. The last thing you want to do on your own is confusing exercises that take too long to show results. TED Fellow Cosmin Mihaiu demos a fun, cheap solution that turns…
Programming bacteria to detect cancer (and maybe treat it) | Tal Danino
May 7, 2015 • 4 min
Liver cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to detect, but synthetic biologist Tal Danino had a left-field thought: What if we could create a probiotic, edible bacteria that was “programmed” to find liver tumors? His insight exploits something we’re…
Why we laugh | Sophie Scott
Apr 30, 2015 • 17 min
Did you know that you’re 30 times more likely to laugh if you’re with somebody else than if you’re alone? Cognitive neuroscientist Sophie Scott shares this and other surprising facts about laughter in this fast-paced, action-packed and, yes, hilarious…
The next outbreak? We’re not ready | Bill Gates
Apr 3, 2015 • 8 min
In 2014, the world avoided a global outbreak of Ebola, thanks to thousands of selfless health workers — plus, frankly, some very good luck. In hindsight, we know what we should have done better. So, now’s the time, Bill Gates suggests, to put all our good…
How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime | Nadine Burke Harris
Feb 17, 2015 • 15 min
Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the…
Why we all need to practice emotional first aid | Guy Winch
Feb 16, 2015 • 17 min
We’ll go to the doctor when we feel flu-ish or a nagging pain. So why don’t we see a health professional when we feel emotional pain: guilt, loss, loneliness? Too many of us deal with common psychological-health issues on our own, says Guy Winch. But we…
My simple invention, designed to keep my grandfather safe | Kenneth Shinozuka
Feb 12, 2015 • 5 min
60% of people with dementia wander off, an issue that can prove hugely stressful for both patients and caregivers. In this charming talk, hear how teen inventor Kenneth Shinozuka came up with a novel solution to help his night-wandering grandfather and…
Humanity vs. Ebola. How we could win a terrifying war | Bruce Aylward
Feb 3, 2015 • 19 min
“Ebola threatens everything that makes us human,” says Bruce Aylward of the World Health Organization. And when the Ebola epidemic exploded in 2014, it caused a worldwide panic. But humanity can beat Ebola — and Aylward shows four strategies that show how…
Why some people find exercise harder than others | Emily Balcetis
Nov 25, 2014 • 14 min
Why do some people struggle more than others to keep off the pounds? Social psychologist Emily Balcetis shows research that addresses one of the many factors: our vision. In an informative talk, she shows how when it comes to fitness, some people quite…
This gel can make you stop bleeding instantly | Joe Landolina
Nov 20, 2014 • 5 min
Forget stitches — there’s a better way to close wounds. In this talk, TED Fellow Joe Landolina talks about his invention — a medical gel that can instantly stop traumatic bleeding without the need to apply pressure. (Contains medical images.)
What your doctor won’t disclose | Leana Wen
Nov 13, 2014 • 15 min
Wouldn’t you want to know if your doctor was a paid spokesman for a drug company? Or held personal beliefs incompatible with the treatment you want? Right now, in the US at least, your doctor simply doesn’t have to tell you about that. And when physician…
The coming crisis in antibiotics | Ramanan Laxminarayan
Nov 10, 2014 • 14 min
Antibiotic drugs save lives. But we simply use them too much — and often for non-lifesaving purposes, like treating the flu and even raising cheaper chickens. The result, says researcher Ramanan Laxminarayan, is that the drugs will stop working for…
Yes, I survived cancer. But that doesn’t define me | Debra Jarvis
Oct 30, 2014 • 16 min
Debra Jarvis had worked as a hospital chaplain for nearly 30 years when she was diagnosed with cancer. And she learned quite a bit as a patient. In a witty, daring talk, she explains how the identity of “cancer survivor” can feel static. She asks us all…
The simple power of hand-washing | Myriam Sidibe
Oct 14, 2014 • 11 min
Myriam Sidibe is a warrior in the fight against childhood disease. Her weapon of choice? A bar of soap. For cost-effective prevention against sickness, it’s hard to beat soapy hand-washing, which cuts down risk of pneumonia, diarrhea, cholera and worse.…
One more reason to get a good night’s sleep | Jeff Iliff
Oct 13, 2014 • 11 min
The brain uses a quarter of the body’s entire energy supply, yet only accounts for about two percent of the body’s mass. So how does this unique organ receive and, perhaps more importantly, rid itself of vital nutrients? New research suggests it has to do…
Why thinking you’re ugly is bad for you | Meaghan Ramsey
Oct 7, 2014 • 12 min
About 10,000 people a month Google the phrase, “Am I ugly?” Meaghan Ramsey of the Dove Self-Esteem Project has a feeling that many of them are young girls. In a deeply unsettling talk, she walks us through the surprising impacts of low body and image…
A neural portrait of the human mind | Nancy Kanwisher
Oct 1, 2014 • 17 min
Brain imaging pioneer Nancy Kanwisher, who uses fMRI scans to see activity in brain regions (often her own), shares what she and her colleagues have learned: The brain is made up of both highly specialized components and general-purpose “machinery.”…
“Am I dying?” The honest answer. | Matthew O’Reilly
Sep 25, 2014 • 5 min
Matthew O’Reilly is a veteran emergency medical technician on Long Island, New York. In this talk, O’Reilly describes what happens next when a gravely hurt patient asks him: “Am I going to die?”
What makes us get sick? Look upstream | Rishi Manchanda
Sep 15, 2014 • 18 min
Rishi Manchanda has worked as a doctor in South Central Los Angeles for a decade, where he’s come to realize: His job isn’t just about treating a patient’s symptoms, but about getting to the root cause of what is making them ill—the “upstream” factors…
How to live passionately—no matter your age | Isabel Allende
Sep 3, 2014 • 8 min
Author Isabel Allende is 71. Yes, she has a few wrinkles—but she has incredible perspective too. In this candid talk, meant for viewers of all ages, she talks about her fears as she gets older and shares how she plans to keep on living passionately.
Own your body’s data | Talithia Williams
Aug 11, 2014 • 17 min
The new breed of high-tech self-monitors (measuring heartrate, sleep, steps per day) might seem targeted at competitive athletes. But Talithia Williams, a statistician, makes a compelling case that all of us should be measuring and recording simple data…
The hunt for “unexpected genetic heroes” | Stephen Friend
May 29, 2014 • 10 min
What can we learn from people with the genetics to get sick — who don’t? With most inherited diseases, only some family members will develop the disease, while others who carry the same genetic risks dodge it. Stephen Friend suggests we start studying…
A glimpse of life on the road | Kitra Cahana
May 28, 2014 • 5 min
As a young girl, photojournalist and TED Fellow Kitra Cahana dreamed about running away from home to live freely on the road. Now as an adult and self-proclaimed vagabond, she follows modern nomads into their homes — boxcars, bus stops, parking lots, rest…
How I help transgender teens become who they want to be | Norman Spack
Apr 16, 2014 • 16 min
Puberty is an awkward time for just about everybody, but for transgender teens it can be a nightmare, as they grow overnight into bodies they aren’t comfortable with. In a heartfelt talk, Norman Spack tells a personal story of how he became one of the few…
Can the damaged brain repair itself? | Siddharthan Chandran
Feb 24, 2014 • 15 min
After a traumatic brain injury, it sometimes happens that the brain can repair itself, building new brain cells to replace damaged ones. But the repair doesn’t happen quickly enough to allow recovery from degenerative conditions like motor neuron disease…
A new way to grow bone | Molly Stevens
Feb 18, 2014 • 14 min
What does it take to regrow bone in mass quantities? Typical bone regeneration — wherein bone is taken from a patient’s hip and grafted onto damaged bone elsewhere in the body — is limited and can cause great pain just a few years after operation. In an…
His and hers … health care | Paula Johnson
Jan 22, 2014 • 14 min
Every cell in the human body has a sex, which means that men and women are different right down to the cellular level. Yet too often, research and medicine ignore this insight — and the often startlingly different ways in which the two sexes respond to…
Demo: A needle-free vaccine patch that’s safer and way cheaper | Mark Kendall
Jan 14, 2014 • 13 min
One hundred sixty years after the invention of the needle and syringe, we’re still using them to deliver vaccines; it’s time to evolve. Biomedical engineer Mark Kendall demos the Nanopatch, a one-centimeter-by-one-centimeter square vaccine that can be…
Why dieting doesn’t usually work | Sandra Aamodt
Jan 8, 2014 • 12 min
In the US, 80% of girls have been on a diet by the time they’re 10 years old. In this honest, raw talk, neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt uses her personal story to frame an important lesson about how our brains manage our bodies, as she explores the science…
How an obese town lost a million pounds | Mick Cornett
Jan 2, 2014 • 15 min
Oklahoma City is a midsized town that had a big problem: It was among the most obese towns in America. Mayor Mick Cornett realized that, to make his city a great place to work and live, it had to become healthier too. In this charming talk, he walks us…
Depression, the secret we share | Andrew Solomon
Dec 18, 2013 • 29 min
“The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it was vitality that seemed to seep away from me in that moment.” In a talk equal parts eloquent and devastating, writer Andrew Solomon takes you to the darkest corners of his mind during the…
How societies can grow old better | Jared Diamond
Nov 25, 2013 • 18 min
There’s an irony behind the latest efforts to extend human life: It’s no picnic to be an old person in a youth-oriented society. Older people can become isolated, lacking meaningful work and low on funds. In this intriguing talk, Jared Diamond looks at…
How to make stress your friend | Kelly McGonigal
Sep 4, 2013 • 14 min
Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly…
Why do we sleep? | Russell Foster
Aug 14, 2013 • 21 min
Russell Foster is a circadian neuroscientist: He studies the sleep cycles of the brain. And he asks: What do we know about sleep? Not a lot, it turns out, for something we do with one-third of our lives. In this talk, Foster shares three popular theories…
The voices in my head | Eleanor Longden
Aug 8, 2013 • 14 min
To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to college full of promise and without a care in the world. That was until the voices in her head started talking. Initially innocuous, these internal narrators became…
Better baby care — thanks to Formula 1 | Peter van Manen
Aug 1, 2013 • 7 min
During a Formula 1 race, a car sends hundreds of millions of data points to its garage for real-time analysis and feedback. So why not use this detailed and rigorous data system elsewhere, like at children’s hospitals? Peter van Manen tells us more.
The fastest ambulance? A motorcycle | Eli Beer
Jul 30, 2013 • 10 min
As a young EMT on a Jerusalem ambulance, Eli Beer realized that, stuck in brutal urban traffic, they often arrived too late to help. So he organized a group of volunteer EMTs — many on foot — ready to drop everything and dash to save lives in their…
In our baby’s illness, a life lesson | Roberto D’Angelo + Francesca Fedeli
Jul 24, 2013 • 6 min
Roberto D’Angelo and Francesca Fedeli thought their baby boy Mario was healthy — until at 10 days old, they discovered he’d had a perinatal stroke. With Mario unable to control the left side of his body, they grappled with tough questions: Would he be…
The big-data revolution in health care | Joel Selanikio
Jul 2, 2013 • 16 min
Collecting global health data is an imperfect science: Workers tramp through villages to knock on doors and ask questions, write the answers on paper forms, then input the data — and from this messy, gappy information, countries and NGOs need to make huge…
Prepare for a good end of life | Judy MacDonald Johnston
May 22, 2013 • 6 min
Thinking about death is frightening, but planning ahead is practical and leaves more room for peace of mind in our final days. In a solemn, thoughtful talk, Judy MacDonald Johnston shares 5 practices for planning for a good end of life.
Got a meeting? Take a walk | Nilofer Merchant
Apr 29, 2013 • 3 min
Nilofer Merchant suggests a small idea that just might have a big impact on your life and health: Next time you have a one-on-one meeting, make it into a “walking meeting” — and let ideas flow while you walk and talk.
Toward a new understanding of mental illness | Thomas Insel
Apr 16, 2013 • 13 min
Today, thanks to better early detection, there are 63% fewer deaths from heart disease than there were just a few decades ago. Thomas Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, wonders: Could we do the same for depression and…
Let’s talk crap. Seriously. | Rose George
Apr 15, 2013 • 14 min
It’s 2013, yet 2.5 billion people in the world have no access to a basic sanitary toilet. And when there’s no loo, where do you poo? In the street, probably near your water and food sources — causing untold death and disease from contamination. Get ready…
Health care should be a team sport | Eric Dishman
Apr 11, 2013 • 15 min
When Eric Dishman was in college, doctors told him he had 2 to 3 years to live. That was a long time ago. Now, Dishman puts his experience and his expertise as a medical tech specialist together to suggest a bold idea for reinventing health care — by…
We’re covered in germs. Let’s design for that. | Jessica Green
Mar 25, 2013 • 8 min
Our bodies and homes are covered in microbes — some good for us, some bad for us. As we learn more about the germs and microbes who share our living spaces, TED Fellow Jessica Green asks: Can we design buildings that encourage happy, healthy microbial…
We need better drugs — now | Francis Collins
Mar 21, 2013 • 14 min
Today we know the molecular cause of 4,000 diseases, but treatments are available for only 250 of them. So what’s taking so long? Geneticist and physician Francis Collins explains why systematic drug discovery is imperative, even for rare and complex…
A guerrilla gardener in South Central LA | Ron Finley
Mar 6, 2013 • 10 min
Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where “the drive-thrus are killing more people…
The secret to desire in a long-term relationship | Esther Perel
Feb 14, 2013 • 19 min
In long-term relationships, we often expect our beloved to be both best friend and erotic partner. But as Esther Perel argues, good and committed sex draws on two conflicting needs: our need for security and our need for surprise. So how do you sustain…
Could the sun be good for your heart? | Richard Weller
Jan 17, 2013 • 12 min
Our bodies get Vitamin D from the sun, but as dermatologist Richard Weller suggests, sunlight may confer another surprising benefit too. New research by his team shows that nitric oxide, a chemical transmitter stored in huge reserves in the skin, can be…
Pool medical patents, save lives | Ellen ‘t Hoen
Dec 10, 2012 • 11 min
Patenting a new drug helps finance its immense cost to develop — but that same patent can put advanced treatments out of reach for sick people in developing nations, at deadly cost. Ellen ‘t Hoen talks about an elegant, working solution to the problem:…
Want to be happier? Stay in the moment | Matt Killingsworth
Nov 5, 2012 • 10 min
When are humans most happy? To gather data on this question, Matt Killingsworth built an app, Track Your Happiness, that let people report their feelings in real time. Among the surprising results: We’re often happiest when we’re lost in the moment. And…
What’s so funny about mental illness? | Ruby Wax
Oct 10, 2012 • 8 min
Diseases of the body garner sympathy, says comedian Ruby Wax — except those of the brain. Why is that? With dazzling energy and humor, Wax, diagnosed a decade ago with clinical depression, urges us to put an end to the stigma of mental illness.
A story about knots and surgeons | Ed Gavagan
Sep 21, 2012 • 12 min
One day, Ed Gavagan was sitting on the subway, watching two young med students practicing their knots. And a powerful memory washed over him — of one shocking moment that changed his life forever. An unforgettable story of crime, skill and gratitude.
Mental health for all by involving all | Vikram Patel
Sep 11, 2012 • 12 min
Nearly 450 million people are affected by mental illness worldwide. In wealthy nations, just half receive appropriate care, but in developing countries, close to 90 percent go untreated because psychiatrists are in such short supply. Vikram Patel outlines…
How to step up in the face of disaster | Morgan O’Neill
Aug 14, 2012 • 9 min
When a freak tornado hit their hometown, sisters Caitria and Morgan O’Neill — just 20 and 24 at the time — realized they had to jump in and help. What they learned is: After a natural disaster, there’s only a tiny window before the world turns its…
A test for Parkinson’s with a phone call | Max Little
Aug 7, 2012 • 6 min
Parkinson’s disease affects 6.3 million people worldwide, causing weakness and tremors, but there’s no objective way to detect it early on. Yet. Applied mathematician and TED Fellow Max Little is testing a simple, cheap tool that in trials is able to…
The game that can give you 10 extra years of life | Jane McGonigal
Jul 9, 2012 • 19 min
When game designer Jane McGonigal found herself bedridden and suicidal following a severe concussion, she had a fascinating idea for how to get better. She dove into the scientific research and created the healing game, SuperBetter. In this moving talk,…
How I’m preparing to get Alzheimer’s | Alanna Shaikh
Jul 3, 2012 • 6 min
When faced with a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s, most of us respond with denial (“It won’t happen to me”) or extreme efforts at prevention. But global health expert and TED Fellow Alanna Shaikh sees it differently. She’s taking three concrete steps to…
A tale of mental illness — from the inside | Elyn Saks
Jun 29, 2012 • 14 min
“Is it okay if I totally trash your office?” It’s a question Elyn Saks once asked her doctor, and it wasn’t a joke. A legal scholar, in 2007 Saks came forward with her own story of schizophrenia, controlled by drugs and therapy but ever-present. In this…
Are we over-medicalized? | Ivan Oransky
Jun 19, 2012 • 10 min
Reuters health editor Ivan Oransky warns that we’re suffering from an epidemic of preposterous preconditions — pre-diabetes, pre-cancer, and many more. In this engaging talk from TEDMED he shows how health care can find a solution… by taking an important…
What if our health care system kept us healthy? | Rebecca Onie
Jun 12, 2012 • 16 min
Rebecca Onie asks audacious questions: What if waiting rooms were a place to improve daily health care? What if doctors could prescribe food, housing and heat in the winter? At TEDMED she describes Health Leads, an organization that does just that — and…