#Gawande at Harvard: It’s not about a good #death. It’s about having a good #life along the way. @Ariadnelabs

Surgeon Atul Gawande’s sat down with Harvard Divinity School Dean David N. Hempton last week to talk about writing, health care and mortality.

imagesHe said he is not someone who came naturally to writing. He grew up in a home with academic journals, not  novels, as reading material. But a friend asked him to write for a website, which led to a gig at Slate. He said the stories of the people around him “seemed bigger” than policy questions.

“It became my way of thinking out loud,” he said.

On his work in serious illness care, Gawande said it is not necessarily about helping people face. death. It’s about finding out what is important to patients as they face mortality. One patient told Gawande he wanted to stay live as long as he could eat chocolate ice cream and watch football on TV. Gawande called that “the best living will ever…It’s not about a good death. It’s about having a good life along the way.”

The HDS has posted a video of the talk.



8/6 Science in the News in the summer in a bar in Somerville

From Science by the Pint

Ling cancer cell, NIH

Monday, August 6th, 6:30-8:00pm at The Burren

(247 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144) (directions)

Dr. Elma Zaganjor, Ph.D. and
Dr. Jessica Spinelli, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Scientists
Dr. Marcia Haigis’s Lab, Harvard Medical School

Fuel for the Fire: How cancer cells alter their metabolism during tumor development

(247 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144) (directions)
Events start promptly at 6:30 p.m.

Cancer cells require a continuous source of energy and cellular building blocks to support their rapid rate of growth. Metabolic reprogramming helps cancer cells gain a growth advantage by giving them the ability to consume a wide variety of available fuel sources, from dietary fuels such as fats, sugars and proteins to waste products generated by the cancer cells themselves. Drs. Elma Zaganjor and Jessica Spinelli, two scientists working in Dr. Marcia Haigis’s laboratory, are studying how this reprogramming drives tumor growth in the hope of both better understanding the processes underlying cancer development, as well as how we could potentially use this knowledge to develop new cancer treatments. Please join us for what promises to be an engaging evening with two outstanding speakers and lots of interesting discussion!

Also, on Wednesday, 8/8  science in the summer at the Broad. Be sure to register.

Midsummer Nights’ Science at the Broad Institute takes place at 415 Main Street, in Kendall Square in Cambridge. Each lecture runs from 6:30 – 7:30 pm and is immediately followed by a reception with light refreshments.

The Eliana Hechter Lecture: How do genes control our size and shape?
Joel Hirschhorn
People come in many shapes and sizes, and genes play a strong role in determining how short or tall we are, or whether we are lean or obese. Joel will discuss recent dramatic advances in genetics that have led to the discovery of hundreds or thousands of places in our genomes that influence height or obesity, what this tells us about the biology of human height and weight, and how these discoveries could lead to new treatments for obesity.


Can comics help us heal? Graphic medicine exhibit comes to UMass Med in the fall.

A few recommendations from Noes

Also note: Noes’  The Graphic Medicine Book Discussion Kit.


This week: Table talks and midsummer science

It may not be not to late to take in this morning session. If not, they’ll do it again next week. 

The first talk will be Monday, July 16, 2018, at 10 am, at Toscanini’s Ice Cream, 159 First St., Cambri

dge, Massachusetts, USA. It will include special guest researcher Gus Rancatore, proprietor of Toscanini’s. Bring friends and colleagues, if you like. The event is free.

Still time to get to this Wednesday event, part ot the Midsummer NIght’s Science at the Broad

6:30p.  “Pediatric Brain Tumors: The frontier of childhood cancers.”   Pratiti (Mimi) Bandopadhayay.   Bandopadhayay Lab .   Broad Institute.

Registration is open for Midsummer Nights’ Science

Four lectures at the Broad in Cambridge. Air conditioning. Food. Word has gotten out so, you need to register.

Who gets PTSD and what helps
Karestan Koenen
Media reports of traumatic events such as sexual assaults, terrorist attacks, and catastrophic disasters have become commonplace. While many people think of post traumatic stress disorder in relation to soldiers returning from war, the majority of people with PTSD are civilians. In this talk, Karestan will cover how people respond to such experiences, why some people develop PTSD, and what we know about what helps people recover from these common experiences.
July 18


Pediatric brain cancer
Pratiti (Mimi) Bandopadhayay
July 25
Genetic-guided development of therapeutics
Jesse Boehm
August 1
The Eliana Hechter Lecture: The GIANT Consortium
Joel Hirschhorn
 August 8


As digital health matures, so does the population. Boston meeting looks @dhealth2018 and aging.

4898606253_4e2af86630_mThe BIO meeting is getting all the attention, but across town, today’s dhealth Summit bills itself as a ” national forum for health and technology leaders, entrepreneurs, senior care advocates and policymakers to exchange ideas, create new relationships, and foster disruptive technological and process innovations to improve the lives of the nation’s aging population.”

Watch is live or follow it on Twitter @dheatlh2018. BHN hopes to live tweet the final keynote from  Troyen A. Brennan MD,  the CMO of CVS Health. He’ll be speaking on Health Hub, what the Globe described as the possible “genius bar of health.”

CVS Health wants to be a new “front door” to the health care system, like the Genius Bar at Apple stores, where customers can walk in and seek help.

The pharmacy giant and Aetna, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, unveiled plans Monday that they say would transform the consumer health care experience and bring down medical costs by using thousands of CVS retail locations across the country to provide a broader set of services to patients.

But the bold strategy drew questions about how the merger of CVS and Aetna would shake out and how exactly it would affect consumers. Some specialists wondered if patients would rely on their local CVS as much as they would their doctor or hospital.

A few tweets:


Reading: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity.

From STAT,  adapted from “She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity.”  Author Carl Zimmer will be at Harvard Book Store.

7 pm, 51pAUtsSi3L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ 5/30  Harvard Book Store, 1256 Massachusetts Ave.   Details, Abstract.

“Thousands of species of microbes can live a single spoonful of soil. Although microbiologists have been naming species of bacteria for well over a century, they’ve described only a tiny fraction of the Earth’s single-celled diversity.

We can acquire many of these bacteria from our environment: from dirt, handshakes, doorknobs, and computer keyboards. Yet our inner menagerie is not simply a random sampling of the microbial traffic flowing around us. Many of these species have adapted to our human habitat over millions of years. They’ve evolved tricks for finding food in our nooks and crannies. Our own bodies have adapted to them as well, able to recognize them as friends rather than enemies. And it’s possible that some members of the human microbiome have evolved intimate ways to get from one generation to the next.”