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High School Student Inspired by TEDMed 2013 Experience

Suhas Gondi, a Intel Science Talent Search 2013 entrant, was one of five Society for Science & the Public student alumni to be provided a complimentary scholarship from TEDMed to attend the TEDMed 2013 conference held in Washington, DC this April.

TEDMed was definitely one of the most valuable experiences I’ve ever had the opportunity to engage in. As a high school student wandering through exhibits of innovative healthcare startups and listening to incredible talks from talented leaders in their respective fields of science and medicine, I was continually inspired over the course of the 4 day event. I engaged in discussions with physicians, medical students, entrepreneurs, researchers, and public health officials, constantly gaining new insights, making “unexpected connections” (a theme of the event), and learning about all the opportunities that the medical field has to offer to an up-and-coming scientist like myself.

I hosted a discussion about the BRAIN initiative in my school’s Neuroscience Society when President Obama launched the initiative; and at TEDMed I was able to hear Rafael Yuste, the scientist who hatched the idea for the Brain Activity Mapping Project, expound on the importance of dreaming big. After learning about the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in my Science Policy Class, I was able to talk to Ryan Panchadsaram, a senior White House adviser in the OSTP, about his path into the field. Over the course of a conversation with a German entrepreneur, whose group is developing a smartphone application to monitor stress using different biomarkers, I discovered that his company was using the same programming toolbox that a group of fellow students and I are using for a completely separate project.

The event, and particularly the talks, were as emotionally stimulating as they were intellectually stimulating. Doctors told heartwarming stories about their pasts and their patients, giving me a window into the world of medicine and helping me to understand the multi-dimensionality of its practice. I learned how single interactions can be so powerful that they alter the course of a career and how sometimes the simplest of ideas can save lives. Admittedly, I also had quite a bit of fun along the way, especially while dancing on stage with Richard Simmons and the Surgeon General of the United States.

As a result of my experience at TEDMed, I am moving forward in my education with the perspectives of great thinkers and experienced professionals in mind, cognizant of the greatest challenges that healthcare faces in the years to come, and motivated to train myself in such a way that I can use my skills to make a difference in the lives of others.  Perhaps I will even play a small role in solving the problems that prevent the medical field from achieving its full potential.

I cannot even begin to express my gratitude to SSP and Intel STS for this incredible opportunity; it will absolutely be one that I will not forget any time soon.

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