Nobel Prize-winning biochemist revolutionizing genome technology
The gene-editing technology CRISPR has the potential to transform the future of human health, with its ability to change DNA sequences to correct disease causing mutations. Pioneering this promising work is Jennifer Doudna, a professor of chemistry and molecular biology at University of California, Berkeley. In 2020, she received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, with Emmanuelle Charpentier, "for the development of a method for genome editing". The next year, Jennifer joined Walter Isaacson, author of the New York Times’ bestselling book The Code Breaker, for an Aspen Ideas: Health conversation about the promise of CRISPR, as well as the social and ethical questions that surround the powerful tool.
Critical care nurse taking her shot to advance public health
In December 2020, Sandra Lindsay rolled up her sleeve and became the first American to receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials. Thanks to her leadership, for which she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, nearly 270 million Americans have now been vaccinated and she continues to be a prominent advocate for public health, vaccine equity, and mental health for healthcare workers. During Aspen Ideas: Health 2022, she shared a message for the next generation of nurses and physicians: “We need your passion. We need your care. We need your energy. We need your stamina. We need everything you have to join us in this fight to heal this nation and provide a stable healthcare system.”
Pediatrician advancing the global human right to health
For decades, pediatrician Agnes Binagwaho, who specializes in neonatology and the treatment of HIV/AIDS, has been a champion for global health. From serving as Rawanda's Minister of Health to advising the World Health Organization to co-founding the University of Global Health Equity, she has helped improve health care delivery around the world and train the next generation of global health professionals. At Aspen Ideas: Health, she has shared her expertise on the advances that have been made in global health and the gaps that remain.
Iconic sex therapist breaking stigmas around intimacy and pleasure
Better known as Dr. Ruth, Ruth Westheimer has been America's trusted sex expert for decades. The psychosexual therapist sprang to national attention in the early 1980s with her live radio program, “Sexually Speaking,” which led to national TV programs and dozens of best-selling books. Her candid and compassionate relationship advice has spanned generations, helping to reduce stigmas and spark sex-positive conversations. Following a screening of the documentary "Ask Dr. Ruth", the 94-year old told the Aspen Ideas: Health audience about defining moments in her life, from surviving the Holocaust to working at Planned Parenthood.
Social entrepreneur harnessing the power of inclusive engineering
Naadiya Moosajee is a social entrepreneur by passion and a civil engineer by training. As the co-founder of WomEng and WomHub, she's actively working to create gender parity in STEM through education and investment for girls and women in Africa and around the globe. During Aspen Ideas: Health, she discussed the challenges of being a woman in the sciences and how the #MeToo movement shined a spotlight on the need for systemic changes to protect and support women in these fields.
Physician-scientist fighting for gender equity in medicine and education
Throughout her distinguished career as physician-scientist, Paula Johnson has improved health outcomes for women by revealing and addressing gender biases in both clinical care and medical research. Now, as the President of Wellesley College, she's supporting the next generation of innovators by putting STEM education for women at the forefront. At Aspen Ideas: Health, she discussed the distinctive biology of women and the need to prioritize their unique health needs across the lifespan.
STEM advocate leading the next generation of innovators
17 year-old Gitanjali Rao is on a mission to use the power of science to solve social problems. And she's well on her way! The aspiring scientist and STEM advocate received an EPA Presidential award for her invention of a lead contamination detection tool and she is also the inventor of “Epione,” a genetic engineering device for early diagnosis of prescription opioid addiction, and "Kindly," an anti-cyberbullying service using AI and Natural Language processing. During Aspen Ideas: Health, Gitanjali and fellow Gen Z innovators shared their vision for a healthier future with former NIH Director Francis Collins and an inspired audience.
Clinician championing digital health solutions to improve health equity
As the founding executive director of Health DesignED at Emory University and an emergency physician, Monique Smith is dedicated to tackling health inequity. She has worked across five continents to deploy data and technology to expand access to care, address supply chain challenges, and improve health outcomes for all. During Aspen Ideas: Health, Monique joined fellow innovators and investors to discuss the future of digital health, stressing the need for intentional design: "We often think about the next gadget, the next thing, but we don’t think about the “for who?” and “for what?”. If we’re truly going to revolutionize things, we have to look at the people using healthcare the most. How do we solve for their complex problems? Because if we can solve for that, we can solve for everybody."
Infectious disease expert putting data into action to save lives
Best known to the public as the Trump Administration’s White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, physician Deborah Birx is a clinical immunologist who has also served as US Global AIDS coordinator and a colonel in the US Army. Challenged to speak the truth about COVID-19, she balanced candor and political pragmatism to share accurate information during the early days of the pandemic. At Aspen Ideas: Health, she sat down with Dan Diamond of The Washington Post to explain how her allegiance to data and duty helped her survive the hot seat and move critical strategies forward to save lives.