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Select video and audio from Spotlight Health and the Aspen Ideas Festival. All video and audio is from 2017.

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Whether they remain free of diagnosable disease or become afflicted by dementia, our brains inevitably change as we grow older. Our cells degenerate, we forget names, and we think more slowly, making hard to distinguish normal aging from the warning signs of brain disease. Programs that claim to keep the brain healthy are popular, but it is not clear how much physical and mental exercise and good nutrition really help.

Featuring:
Gary Small, Samuel Gandy, James Hamblin

Congress is engaged in vigorous debates about health reform, the federal budget, and other sweeping policy changes that could have a potent impact on health. The future of Obamacare and the possibility that Medicaid may be significantly restructured or cut back dramatically are very much in play. The level of funding for the biomedical research and public health activities of the NIH, CDC and FDA are uncertain.

Featuring:
Christopher Coons, Margot Sanger-Katz

Nanobiophysics draws together the mainstays of physics, such as mechanical forces and electromagnetic fields, with the biochemical and cellular processes at the foundation of medicine. Anita Goel, a pioneer in this emerging platform, helped rocket MRSA, the antibiotic-resistant superbug, to the International Space Station so that scientists can study the influence of microgravity on the microbe’s mutation patterns.

Featuring:
Anita Goel, James Hamblin

Invalid health news comes in many flavors. Some is utterly fake and potentially dangerous: asserting links between vaccines and autism, discrediting the reality of climate change. Other assertions feel somewhat different, like advertising claims that a pill can melt away pounds or a dietary supplement can make you stronger.

Featuring:
Kelly McBride, Joanne Kenen, Brian Southwell, Richard Berke

It’s been called the most perilous drug crisis ever. In the United States, the epicenter of the opioid epidemic, overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999, killing 91 people every day. Pharmaceutical pain relief is an essential clinical tool, but with physicians writing some 240 million opioid prescriptions to Americans every year, the potential for addicition is enormous.

Featuring:
Perri Peltz, Yasmin Hurd, Vivek Murthy, Jackie Judd, Nora Volkow

Should we ever intentionally drive a species to extinction? Most people probably agree with deadly diseases like smallpox and malaria, but what about the New World screwworm? Its very existence in the wild causes horrific suffering. Humans sometimes struggle to accept the fact that nature is amoral, because evolution doesn't care.

Featuring:
Kevin Esvelt, Michael Specter, Drew Endy

Dozens of genetic testing companies have cropped up over the last decade, promising to help consumers decipher everything from their risks of certain illnesses, their family trees, their wine preferences, and the diet most likely to help them shed a beer belly. As genetic testing becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous, what are the limitations and potential pitfalls to be aware of? How might insurers or employers use this information? Could we be on the cusp of mass genetic discrimination?

Featuring:
Nita Farahany, Alondra Nelson, Hank (Henry) Greely, Ed Yong, Lee Cooper

One of the most effective ways to break the cycle of poverty is to invest in children and families in the earliest years. How do we apply groundbreaking research on children's and parents’ health and educational attainment to ensure that the next generation is poised to transform and maintain America's role in the world? Nobel Prize winner James Heckman and early childhood entrepreneur Jackie Bezos share perspectives.

Featuring:
James Heckman, Jackie Bezos, Anne Mosle

Most of us probably harbor preconceived notions about refugees. Maybe it’s a misunderstanding about what drove them from home. Or maybe it’s a lack of understanding about the lives they led before crises upended them. Or possibly, a failure of imagination about the talents and capacities they bring to their new host countries. How do our misconceptions about refugees keep us from fixing our broken refugee system and integrating refugees more fully into our communities?

Featuring:
Alexander Betts, Qutaiba Idlbi, Alisyn Camerota

A discussion about how Hollywood is adapting to an increasingly cluttered and fragmented marketplace by embracing creative business solutions. Chris Meledandri, the founder and CEO of animation powerhouse Illumination Entertainment, and Jeff Shell, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, will look at both the macro and micro ways that the film business is being forced to think outside the box in order to thrive in today’s fast-changing entertainment industry.

Featuring:
Chris Meledandri, Jeff Shell, Nicole LaPorte

As Latino Americans emerge as the majority minority and the new mainstream, representing 18 percent of the US population and approaching one-third by 2060, questions are emerging about where and how Latinos fit into the national narrative.

Featuring:
Monica Lozano, Maria Hinojosa, Janet Murguía, Henry Cisneros

A passion for food — growing it, cooking it, and eating it — has become one of the favorite pastimes of countless people. Did it all begin with James Beard? Learn why that claim is made in the new PBS American Masters documentary, James Beard: America’s First Foodie. Following the film, Corby Kummer, food writer for The Atlantic, will lead a panel discussion with two of America’s great chefs.

Featuring:
Corby Kummer, Joy Crump, Garrett Harker, Jessica Harris

Academy Award-winning producer Brian Grazer, along with partner Ron Howard, just completed season one of “Genius,” a multi-part series for television based on Walter Isaacson’s book, Einstein. Why the focus on genius? What does the celebration of sheer genius do for society at large? What lessons can we learn by studying the lives and works of those we consider geniuses?

Featuring:
Brian Grazer, Walter Isaacson

Madison's legacy matters today more than ever. As founding genius he made the Constitution to avoid faction. Then he discovered the real world required parties -- so he founded one and became a partisan. Ultimately he turned to foreign policy, seeking to establish America's place in the world without force. He almost succeeded.

Featuring:
Noah Feldman

When a self-driving car’s brakes fail and it has to barrel down one of two lanes, each occupied with two people, which lives should it take? Self-driving cars will be one of the biggest technological transformations in the day-to-day lives of Americans. Before we endow millions of vehicles with autonomy over our lives, though, we need to carefully consider the ethical decisions we are yielding to our robot chauffeurs.

Featuring:
Azim Shariff

The 21st century brings with it unprecedented global uncertainty, interconnectedness, and unimaginable opportunity. Yet many students in the United States and around the world complete their formal education with insufficient tools to navigate this new world.

Featuring:
Mohamed Abdel-Kader, Michael McFaul, Mike Bezos, Andrea Mitchell

Thirty-six million people have died of AIDS since 1981, and about as many are living with HIV today. But antiretroviral drugs can suppress HIV blood levels almost completely, making the virus virtually impossible to transmit. That’s the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target for 2020, achieved when 90 percent of all people living with HIV know their status, receive sustained treatment and achieve viral suppression.

Featuring:
Anthony Fauci, Jamila Headley, Andrew Witty, Olga Khazan

Norman Lear is the prolific television writer and producer of stories about diverse American life—among them “All in the Family,” “Sanford and Son,” “The Jeffersons,” “Good Times,” and “Maude”—as well as a lifelong political and social activist. Khizr Khan is a Pakistani American lawyer, speaker at the 2016 Democratic Convention, and parent of US Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in 2004 during the Iraq War.

Featuring:
Walter Isaacson, Norman Lear, Khizr Khan

By 2030, the world will face a shortage of almost 14 million health care workers. In the United States alone, we’ll need as many as 35,000 more primary care doctors over the next decade. Without adequately trained health professionals, universal access to health care will remain out of reach and preventable illnesses and deaths will rise. That’s a threat not only to individuals, but to society and global security.

Featuring:
Ai-jen Poo, Raj Panjabi, Prabhjot Singh, Andrew Morris-Singer, Peggy Clark, Agnes Binagwaho

How do we ensure that everyone in society benefits from economic growth? How do we narrow income disparities between the topmost earners and everyone else, such that we create wealth for more people? Some CEOs suggest that our focus needs to shift to long-termism and a more socially focused view of capitalism’s broad objectives. If inclusive capitalism at its core means bringing society and business together, what are the strategies to get us there?

Featuring:
Mark Weinberger, Lynn Forester de Rothschild, George Serafeim, Steve Case, David Leonhardt

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