Please updated your RSS feed now that Antibio.tech has moved to www.pulseandsignal.com

That is also the new name of the blog.

Thanks everyone for making this a success and I hope to see you at the new site!

Once again, the new site is http://www.pulseandsignal.com

I’ve been really excited to learn more about how the Web and it’s growing focus on community has been impacting the realm of health education. Improving the quality of our lives through peer discussion AND the dissemination of professional information is something we need more of in the health landscape – we need to focus on the people.

And that’s what Healia Communities aims to accomplish.

You’re probably already aware of the health information search engine, Healia – this tool has been around for a while and from what I can tell, has been successful in helping individuals find what they need on topics ranging from mental health to weight management.

The Health 2.0 movement is definitely taking notice that individuals aren’t solely seeking doctors for their medical advice. There are plenty of health professionals who are better trained to actually interact with people on deeper community basis and you can find some of them on Healia Communities. This has always been a concern of mine when it comes to health information being twisted and changed -  causing people to leave thinking about the wrong concepts. Experts are important, but experts that actually respond is essential, good job Healia.

The personalization aspect of being able to join certain groups that are tailored to your health interests make the site even more effective in that you don’t have to look all over the community to find what you want. Interested in finding out how to get your family to lose weight (similar to a question I put up there)? If you are part of the weight management group, you will most likely see this query and be able to quickly respond. You feel better by offering your own sage advice and the person asking the question now walks away with a smile, feeling encouraged. Win-win situation right?

Healia Communities is about what concerns you.

So go ahead and join the conversation and meet people who are concerned about the same things you are. What better issue to be concerned about than your health and the well being of others?

If you want to connect with me, I’m mindofandre in the community. Oh yeah they also blog regularly about diseases and conditions that you probably want to know about.

Hey folks,

Fun things are on the horizon! I am currently in the process of switching over to WordPress.org and will be changing the name of the blog. Since I’m far from a web designer/technical person on the web, it’s taken me a bit longer than I wanted to, but on the flipside I wanted to learn how to work with WordPress myself.

Anyhoo, I should be done by this weekend. Look here for the unveiling post in the next few days!

Thanks again for reading here and I really hope you come on over to the new place – better design and new features coming up!

~Andre

I guess one of the great things about being in the blogosphere and writing for public consumption is that sometimes people enjoy what you do, take note, and spread the word.

I am super excited to announce that I was featured in the Boston Globe as well as on Penelope Trunk’s blog on work/life balance!! Penelope writes for the Boston Globe and since I recently joined the new Brazen Careerist network of bloggers (see badge on the left side of the blog) – I figured that’s how she was able to take a peek at the blog post about getting my dream job.

This just once again reinforces my feelings about these new media communication channels. How else in the world would I have gotten an opportunity to be featured in the Boston Globe?

Thanks so much for thinking of me, Penelope!

I know you’re excited to get to the second part of Troy’s interview so I won’t be long.

If you haven’t checked out the first part of the interview, hop on over here to get caught up. The world of prosthetics has played an integral part in helping better the lives of many amputees. Troy is one of the good guys – leading cutting edge research into bettering the health of soliders through technology.

Without further ado, I give you part 2…

Q: Of what you are able to share with us, what sort of advancements do you see on the horizon for this field?

I see a time when people will not be able to tell the difference between someone who is using a prosthetic device, and someone using a biological limb. Think along the lines of the arm used by Del Spooner, the character played by Will Smith in the movie iRobot. I anticipate this same technology being use for lower limbs as well. It may sound strange now, but since the majority of amputations are a result of vascular disease, the use of prosthetic devices may become something of an elective procedure versus a life in a wheelchair or using a walker or cane.

Research we are currently funding includes robotic and powered ankles which will provide for significant improvement in what’s called the gait cycle, or walking. Powered and microcomputer processor controlled knees are already on the market, but are being made more rugged and capable through research funded through TATRC. This will allow people using these devices to utilize them in adverse & extreme environments such as water, mud, sand, etc. The majority of lower limb prosthetic devices are currently what I call “reactionary”. That is, they operate according to gravity and swing force. Prosthetics lower limbs do not currently operate according to user intent, that is, the joints and part of the limb move as the user wishes them to move, for example, rolling your ankle or crossing your legs without using your hands while sitting down. Through currently funded research, it is possible that a lower extremity prosthesis user may be able to control their device(s) exactly as someone controls their biological limbs: through impulses that travel from the brain through the nervous system to the muscles, or actuators.

Interestingly, as these devices become more advanced, and public awareness and attention is heightened, increasing numbers of users chose to not wear what is called a cosmesis, or cosmetic covering that helps disguise their device. Many people are wearing their devices in the open, as if to say “this is me, this is part of who I am.” And I think that’s a good thing. However, for someone who chooses to wear a cosmetic covering, there are numerous ways that covering can look. It can be made to look so much like the limb that was lost that it’s amazing. The wearer can have a tattoo painted on, or they can have the covering made and painted in any design an artist is capable of creating.

Q: How do you feel about the barring of double amputee Oscar Pistorius, from the upcoming Olympic Games?

I can’t speak to any specifics of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Pistorius’ situation, but I do think that the fact that he is capable of being competitive at such a high level is a testament to the prosthetics and orthotics technology being developed for those needing it, but also the spirit and never-quit attitude of many people who face significant daily challenges such as these.

Q: Any other comments?

I’ve yet to meet a military amputee that has ever claimed to be a hero, or anything other than just a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine doing their job.

Most people that do “heroic” things don’t think of them as heroic, whatever the “thing” was, they’ll say that they were just doing what needed to be done, or what they were told to do, or what anyone else would have done. But a hero is also someone that others may look up to for motivation, or as an example.

Hero -noun

1. a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act.

Some pro athletes will tell you that they don’t want to be role-models or hero’s, but those people have never understood that it’s not up to them – it’s up to the people that look up to them. Fortunately, most professional athletes are thankful for their gifts and realize how incredibly fortunate they are to be able to “play games” at such a high level. They are great with their fans, and live quiet, mature, responsible lives, and are great role models.

One thing the definition above does not say is that the best heroes are the ones that are humble, that do not seek acknowledgement or attention for themselves of their deeds. Today’s military members show courage and ability everyday. They do what they’re told to do, which requires bravery and nobility – dignity and integrity. Do they act up, get rowdy, cause problems and get in trouble? Of course they do, they’re not perfect. But they are heroes nevertheless, and luckily it’s a label that can’t be self-applied. Those who do their duty with courage, ability, bravery, nobility, and without running, are heroes.

What great insight into what it really means to serve. It has been an absolute pleasure interviewing Troy and getting thoughts on his work and the philosophy behind it. Although peace time is the ideal, with people like Troy helping our soldiers, we can feel a little better during war time. Don’t forget, if you want a regular look inside the mind of Troy, follow him on Twitter!

Do you know someone that is doing great things combining health and technology? Please let me know by sending me an email at mindofandre@gmail.com – I would love to hear about it!

This is pretty interesting stuff here…

Real people get interviewed about how they feel about their body images, set to claymation! Pure genius.

Where do you fit in? Does how you feel about the way you look positively or negatively affect how you feel throughout the day?

via Get Fit Slowly

Hi folks! I am super excited to bring to you someone who caught my interest because of his work in a field that exclusively focuses on merging cutting edge technology and the health/well-being of the human body. Troy currently manages the Advanced Prosthetics and Human Performance research portfolio at the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) of the U. S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USMRMC), at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Additionally, he serves as the Deputy Chief of the Knowledge Engineering Group, including TATRC’s Robotic Combat Casualty Extraction and Evacuation program.

This interview contains questions related to his job, his thoughts on the prosthetic industry and what the future may hold for soldiers and civilians alike in the biotechnology field.

Q: What attracted you to the area of prosthetics and particularly for the military?

I worked in the telecommunications field for several years, and at that time had a position with Nortel Networks as an operations manager over the Mid-Atlantic & Great Lakes regions. It was a great job, and I really enjoyed working at Nortel, but it was not long lived as Nortel laid off about 65,000 people in the Spring of 2001. In the Fall of 2001 I was approached by Dr. Gary Gilbert with an invitation to visit with him at the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, MD. At that time I really only knew Gary as another of the hockey dad’s on the mite-age travel ice hockey team that I managed, and on which both of ours sons played. Though I had served in the military from 1985 to 1989, it was in the telecommunications field, and I knew nothing about the medical research field.

The week after September, 11, 2001, I visited with Gary at TATRC. During the visit, I learned about TATRC and their mission, hearing about many of the very cool things TATRC was managing. At the end of the meeting, Gary offered me a job at TATRC. Although I had never worked in any field related to medical research, Gary watched me manage our sons’ hockey team, and decided that if I could keep all those parents herded and headed in the same direction, that I had at least a good bit of the skill needed to succeed in the TATRC world.

A couple of years later I was asked to become involved in standing up, or starting, or new area of research of TATRC in the area of Advanced Prosthetics & Rehabilitation. The way TATRC operates and takes projects from the proposal stage to an awarded project is complicated, creative, and can take a long time to understand. However, the way we needed to do some things in this research portfolio required us to step outside even TATRC’s normal “sandbox.” Many times we were told “you can’t do it that way”, and then we’d go ahead and do it anyway, and it did work. We were working for U.S. military members who had lost limbs in Iraq & Afghanistan, and getting hung up in red tape and bureaucracy was simply not an option.

So that’s how I became involved, but the men and women for whom we work, and the help we’re able to bring to them is what keeps me involved. You will never meet people more motivated and more determined to never quit than those soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marine’s dealing with limb loss. Sure they have bad days along with the good days, but you can’t meet or speak with them and not leave feeling upbeat.

Q: It seems as though the division in which you work uses cutting edge technology on a daily basis for the various arms of the US Military – do you see the technology being used for civilians any time soon?

TATRC doesn’t actually “use” cutting edge medical technology. TATRC awards and manages congressionally appropriated funding intended for advanced technology medical research projects. TATRC manages research for the DoD ranging from Advanced Prosthetics & Human Performance, to Medical Robotics, to Modeling & Simulation, Neuroscience, Tissue Regeneration, and so forth. Much of this can be seen on our website at www.tatrc.org. Information specific to the Advanced Prosthetics and Human Performance portfolio is at http://www.tatrc.org/prosthetics.

The technology being developed through the research projects is being developed not just by leading research universities and institutes, but also by small businesses. In addition to developing advanced and next generation technologies, a primary goal of ours and the performing organization is for the research to result in something that can be commercialized, or provided as an input to another project which will benefit not just members of the military, but civilians around the world. In this field of research, the science and technology crosses the military/civilian boundary so readily since we’re not dealing with an area of research that is specific to the military. I will say though that while this work easily crosses into the civilian realm, some of the technology being developed her will require greater levels of insurance reimbursement before the majority of civilian users will be able to take advantage of them.

Q: What are the most important issues that are being addressed in prosthetics research for military use? Are these in any way similar to issues facing civilian use?

Military-specific issues being addressed in advanced prosthetics research are the use of the device in extreme environments. This means not just the durability of the device, but also the ability of the device to respond, or even predict the activity of the user and be able to adapt instantaneously to that activity. The great thing is that military specific activities are virtually identical to extreme civilian activities. This includes activities such as running, jumping, swimming, diving, snow skiing, water skiing, bicycling, rock climbing, hiking, carrying very heavy loads, driving vehicles of all configurations, and not having to recharge the device every four hours. Providing prosthetic components that can enable this level of activity will allow young amputees to participate and compete, but will also bring capabilities to devices used by less active individuals that will improve their quality of daily living as well as give them back the opportunity to become more active as well.

Q: What is a typical work day like for you?

A typical day? I used to think there was such a thing, now I know there isn’t. There is a constant process of dealing with research proposals. We are always working with researchers in funded projects, helping them improve their studies and development efforts, as well as helping them network with other researchers that may be able to add to the effort. Part of this includes engaging on a national and even international level with relevant associations, academies, and conferences, in order to learn and know the field, what’s hot, what’s not, what the people that work in the trenches of the field think, and most importantly the needs of the users, those who will hopefully benefit from the work research.

…stay tuned for Troy’s thoughts on future advancements and more! Part 2 coming later this week.

(For those who want to peer inside the mind of Troy on a regular basis, you can follow him on Twitter!)

Since next week looks a little empty, I decided to do a 2 week radar posting:

NetSquared DC March Meetup [link]
When: Tuesday, March 18th 7pm – 9pm (they usually have a large crowd so get there promptly at 7pm)

Where: Affinity Lab
2451 18th Street NW 2nd Floor(above The Diner in Adams Morgan) [map]

Details: Learn about APIs (application programming interface) with Greg Elin and Josh Ruihley from Sunlight Labs.

Washington Blogger February Meetup [link]

When: Wednesday, March 19th 7pm – 9pm

Where: Regional Food and Drink
810 7th St. NW
Washington , DC 20001
202-289-2030
[map]

Details: Local Washington area bloggers meetup for good times and good conversation.

Digital Democracy Panel Discussion:Politics, Privacy & Creativity in the Age of the Internet

When: Wednesday, March 26th 6:30pm – 9:30pm

Where: National Press Club
529 14th Street NW, 13th Floor
Washington, DC 20045
(Metro Center Metro Stop)

Details: A cocktail reception and panel discussion where expert alumni and professors from the Boston University community will examine the implications of digital media on political communication, news reporting and expression of opinion during the 2008 campaign season. (This last one might not be open to the general public, a former colleague of mine is a BU graduate and invited me to come.)

Most likely I will only attend the last event since this week is getting kind of busy for me. But I highly encourage those of you in the Washington DC area to attend these events! It is a great way to meet folks who are passionate about social media and plus you never know what ideas/connections can spark!

One of the most pressing public health issues of our times, has been the scourge of HIV/AIDS. The disease – which began to gain notoriety and attention throughout the 1980′s – has crippled the lives of many Americans, most often bringing unwelcome stigmas and lifelong medication treatments.

A particular class I took in college (as a matter of fact, it was the class that brought me from engineering to the public health world), was focused on disease prevention. Among diseases like diabetes and tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS was usually at the top of the list of diseases that needed focused attention to cure/eradicate. Now that we are in the 2000s and in an age of advanced communication, many of the details related to the disease itself – as well as cutting edge research working toward a cure – can be effectively disseminated to the lay audience. For far too long, the darker side of word of mouth communication allowed for incorrect insight into the world of those living with the disease. Now we can change that…

A good example of technology (more specifically the social web) being used to inform the public is the recently launched AIDS.gov blog. AIDS. gov is the official website of the Department of Health and Human Services‘ communication on the HIV/AIDS issue. Their willingness to delve into the social media aspect of communication should be applauded in itself. This is what I’m talking about when I mention thoughts on how social technology can help the health world. Health is about people. How people live, eat and interact…and also learn. The site does a great job of introducing people to the disease and the blog seems to facilitate a way for people to interact with how the government is handling the issue.

This is of course a vulnerable position as there is always the tendency for the public to not always trust government leadership. This is a great step in the right direction. The HIV/AIDS dilemma is a big one – a global one. And from my point of view, problems can be solved faster by having more people truly understand what is at stake.

Bottom line is, as we continue to become more connected, more vocal about what is going on in our lives, it’s important to not only become knowledgeable about these issues but also to provide feedback regarding solutions. Especially in the realm of health – it’s not about what the government can provide, it’s not about a “professional” tackling the problem for us. Our better health future relies on you – it relies on me – to make forward progress. Get educated about health issues that matter to you…and then give back.

blogpotomac-rgbweb-thumb.jpgAfter finally getting out to the great social media events in the Washington DC area, I have become increasingly more “connected” with the people and ideas that are surely blooming in the city. I caught myself jotting down upcoming events and came across one that I am definitely looking forward to attending.

Although the official website is still under construction, registration for the BlogPotomac event is open to the general public! Chairman of the event, Geoff Livingston lets us know that “BlogPotomac is this year’s premiere social media marketing event for greater Washington DC. Attendees can expect a one-day event with nationally renown speakers and advanced discussion of best social media marketing practices.” The event is to be held on June 13 at the State Theater, in Falls Church, VA.

Speakers lined up for the event include:

If you’re in the DC area and want to get some great information on what’s going on in the digital marketplace, consider attending!

Updates to come as more details roll in.

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