Israel honored with tough-to-land medical conference invite

Doctors are usually a staid bunch, but there’s one place they can safely let their hair down — the annual TedMed Conference, to be held this year in Washington, DC. Israelis will be there too, presenting the latest innovations in Israeli-made medical technology. It’s a singular honor for Israel; this is the first time that a country other than the US will be officially represented at TedMed.

Modeled after the TED talks on innovation held in the Silicon Valley and points beyond, TedMed, which runs between April 16 and 18, features a mix of presentations about technology, medical and social issues, and social networking and leisure events (organized running, yoga, and meditation sessions) for hundreds of doctors, administrators, information technology specialists, insurance industry workers, and many others who work in the healthcare industry. Talks run the gamut of issues affecting healthcare, such as “When is ‘safe dosing’ a dangerous prescription?”, “How do we make prevention a $1 trillion business?”, and “Who is the real medical expert?”

Many of the speakers “push the envelope” with their ideas and presentations. It’s the kind of place where a hospital director might pick up a guitar and sing his speech to listeners, and where a doctor with the unlikely name of “ZdoggMD” (his real name is Zubin Damania) could speak about his fears that “zombie doctors are taking over America.” (The zombies in this case are not the undead, but medical practitioners who are not socially conscious).

It is in this eclectic atmosphere that Israeli biotechnology experts, doctors, academics, and medical and business professionals will be displaying some of the newest, top-flight medical technology coming out of Israel. Some 3,000 individuals attend TedMed, and they represent the cream of the crop of the medical profession and industry. Scoring an invitation is considered a great honor, and although attendees come from around the world, this is the first time a country has been invited to represent itself at the event.

Along with the main presentations, TedMed will feature an innovation center where entrepreneurs from around the world will present their ideas, products, and services. Israel will have its own booth at the center (the only country to be represented as such), where several Israeli startups will be presenting their wares. TedMed’s Innovation Center generally attract a great deal of media and investor attention, and Israeli officials have high hopes that deals with US companies and organizations will be made at the event.

Israel is a world leader in many areas of medical technology, and is at the forefront of research in dozens of areas. Israeli medical technology got a huge boost just recently, when US President Barack Obama had an opportunity to review – and be impressed – by some of Israel’s important medical solutions. Among the technologies Obama was shown was that of ReWalk, which enables paraplegics formerly confined to wheelchairs to walk again.

Besides the Israeli presence at the Washington event, Israel will be hosting its own TedMed – the first time the show’s organizers are authorizing a “satellite” event in a foreign country. The Israeli event will take place April 18, and will feature live broadcasts of TedMed talks and events – and several of the talks that will be given by Israeli speakers at the local event will be broadcast to TedMed attendees in Washington.

Israel’s participation in TedMed was the idea of the Eliram brothers, Yaron and Eitan Eliram, a lawyer and doctor, respectively. Dr. Eitan Eliram, who is currently New Media Advisor at the Prime Minister’s Office, said that Israel belongs at an event like TedMed. “Israel is known around the world as the Startup Nation, specializing in high-tech,” he said. “Now the time has come to present Israel’s accomplishments in the areas of health, biotechnology, and pharma, in order to ensure that the word gets out about how Israeli innovations are changing the world.”


Reporting by David Shamah; Published by Times of Israel.

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