Spotlight Health returns to the Aspen Institute on June 22, 2017, as the opening segment of the annual Aspen Ideas Festival. The tradition of deep dives along the cutting edge of health and medicine continues for its fourth year, presented as always through a global lens. Stimulating and often provocative, Spotlight Health features some of the world’s leading doers and thinkers – the icons and the up-and-comers of our time.
A mix of formats, including keynotes, one-on-one interviews, interactive sessions, and panel discussions foster learning and encourage informal conversations with speakers. There are lessons from innovators working around the world, art displays that echo the themes of the conference, and exercise breaks to keep the body and mind sharp. Set in a verdant mountain valley, cosmopolitan Aspen, Colorado, is a spectacular gathering place in which health can be seen from all its many angles.
Science is making rapid strides in its understanding of the structure and function of the brain. Imaging technologies offer vivid visuals of how we respond to joy, novelty, trauma, and loneliness. Maps of signaling pathways show us how the brain develops and ages, and how acts of imagination, art, and love foster a healthier mind. By explaining human behavior at the neural level, new research is revealing the connection between mental and physical health, offering insights about resilience, and helping unlock human capacity. The science of the brain and the wonders of the mind give new meaning to the word “awesome.”
We live in an age when improbable advances are actually occurring, and what once seemed impossible now appears achievable. Vice President Joe Biden’s pursuit of a cancer cure is not the only moonshot out there. Wild and brave entrepreneurs and scientists are pushing boldly forward with innovations that can lift up everyone, wherever they live. With the right commitments, we can create a planet that offers universal access to clean water and health coverage for all. We may be able to conquer disease, vanquish hunger, and eliminate maternal mortality. It won’t happen overnight, but we’re on a path towards amazing transformation, with visionaries lighting the way.
Good health is one of the greatest gifts of a vigorous, fulfilling life, but clinical care alone cannot produce it. Thriving cities that encourage healthy behavior, investments in quality education and housing, access to good jobs, and global security are other key ingredients. Strengthening the convergence of human and planetary health and a deeper commitment to racial equity and social justice are also prominent in the recipe. Recognizing that a society cannot be healthy if some of its people are barred from realizing their potential, the mission and agenda of many fields are converging on health.
As a species, we do not walk alone. In the journey from birth to death, we depend on others to nurture our young, heal what ails us, and ease our way out of the world. We’re at an inflection point in determining what care will look like, how it will be delivered, and by whom. But we already know that we’ll need healers who value personal touch as much as they do science, caregivers who are adequately trained and compensated, and technology that is supportive, but not dehumanizing. How we tend to others at their most vulnerable moments speaks volumes about our humanity.
Viewpoints allow room for too-good-to-miss sessions – featuring extraordinary people taking on timely topics that stretch across traditional boundaries of geography and areas of expertise. Expect a grab bag of surprises.
Also on the agenda is Med School, a series that highlights must-know scientific advances in each of the tracks.