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F50 Global Capital Summit 2020 calls global investors to support healthtech innovation for COVID19


The 5th F50 Global Capital Summit® (GCS) Spring 2020 on June 16-17, with the theme Elevating HealthTech Innovation opens for speaker nomination. The event is co-hosted by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, UCSF Entrepreneur Center, and SVE (Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs). This special summit is calling investors, entrepreneurs, and physicians to support the innovations which are fighting with COVID-19. 

The spread of the coronavirus has highlighted the imperative for new technologies and solutions in the health and medical area. 20+ leaders including leading physicians, investors, and infinluciers had joined the Global Committee which is the volunteering advising board and curation of the content for the summit.  Innovators, leaders and influencers in the startup ecosystem, like you, are vital to accelerating progress worldwide. A public presentation including committee members, content tracks is included here.  The content will be featured on the F50 Global Insights Youtube channel.

The summit is one of Bay Area’s most sought after events for investors and industry leaders, connecting the next generation of world-changing innovators with strategic partners to power their long-term impact. 

Building on F50’s focus on healthtech innovation over the past year, the Summit is an outstanding opportunity to bring together healthtech experts, entrepreneurs, and the global investor community to elevate health innovation at this critical time.

Global Capital Summit – Confirmed Speakers

  • Bill Reichert,Garage Venture,Managing Director
  • Braj Agrawal, MD, Physician (Neurologist), Investor, Author, Chair IGS2020 at UCSF, Asst Prof Stanford
  • Brian Modoff, EVP, Qualcomm
  • Canice Wu, Vlocity, Head of Insurance Practice
  • Che Voigt,North Bay Angels,Board Chair
  • Daniel Kraft, Chair of Medicine, Singularity Exponential
  • David Cao, Partner, F50 | Hunnwell Lake Ventures
  • Dr. Daniel Teo, Founding Partner, Hunniwell Lake Ventures
  • Dr. Guoliang Yu,Crown Biosicence,Executive Chairman
  • Dr. Heldley Rees,Poole Hospital (NHS)
  • Dr. Mang Yu,Stanford University
  • Dr. Minesh Khashu M.B.B.S, MD, FRCPCH, FRSA, Q Fellow (Health Foundation & NHSI), Consultant Neonatologist, Poole Hospital NHS
  • Dr. Oana Marcu, Scientist, SETI(NASA)
  • Dr. Ossama Hassanein, Chairman, Rising Tide Fund
  • Dr. Patrick Carroll, CMO, HIMS/HERS; Former Chief Medical Officer at Walgreens
  • Dr. Sean Randolph, Sr. Director, Bay Area Council Institute
  • Dr. Shafi Ahmed,”Professor, Associate Dean”,Barts Medical School
  • Dr. Shiyi Chen, Fudan University
  • Dr. Uli K. Chettipally, MD., MPH., Founder & President InnoMD
  • Dr. Xiang Qian, Medical Director, International Medical Services,Stanford Health Care
  • Gary Goldman MD, DDS, Sutter Enterprise Physician Informatics Lead
  • Haiping Hu, Chairman, Global Mentor Board,
  • Henry Xue,Stanford Angels,
  • James Sowers, Angel investor, PopUp Ventures, Forbes top 50 Angel Investor
  • Jinbo Liu, President, Netease USA
  • Jordan Wahbeh,Bay Angels,Managing Partner
  • Keith Teare, Angel Investor
  • Lu Zhang, Founding Partner, Fusion Capital
  • Nikolai Oreshkin,Elysium Venture Capital,Managing Partner
  • Orrin Ailloni-Charas, MD, MBA, Managing Partner at Global Health Impact Fund
  • Paul Singh, Angel Investor, Board Member, Tie
  • Pavan Kumar, Partner, F50 Elevate
  • Philipe Kahn, Inventor, Founder of FullPower, LightSurf, Starfish,Borland Soft
  • Randy Williams,Keiretsu Forum,CEO/Founder
  • Richard Fang,Hunniwell Lake Ventures,Founding Partner
  • Roger Royse, Partner,Hayne Boone
  • Roger Sanford Cofounder, Healthgrid
  • Sean Randolph, Senior Director, Bay Area Council Economic Institute
  • Stephaine Marrus, Managing Director, UCSF Entrepreneur Center
  • Steve Lau, Founding Partner, Eagle Fund
  • Thomas C. Südhof, Nobel Laureate, 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
  • Wei Zhou,Centrillion,CEO

The Summit is known for the exceptional quality of its speaking program as well as its select audience.  It will include around 60 speaking sessions, panel discussions, and invitational roundtable discussions for the industry leaders. This event is free to professional investors and medical professionals.  We hope to attract 100,000 attendees from around the world. Attendees from leading corporations, VCs, angel investors, founders and thought leaders will participate online.

More information

Register today for Comp ticket registration


Nominate a Speaker

This is our formal speaker invitation letter:


Here is the speaker registration / nomination form.


As a past volunteer leader myself for Startup Weekend, SVE ToastMasters,  SV Android, I would like to invite more experienced volunteers join the event as volunteers:

Donate services: summit@f50.io

Features  of the online  summit:

  • Keynote and thought leader presentation & insightful panels
  • Global Insights Investor Report
  • F50 Global Impact Awards
  • Executive (Speaker & VIP ) Roundtable discussions
  • Breakout sessions from India, Euroope, China, Latin America, Europe, etc.
  • F50 Elevate Connect Lounge

About F50:

F50 identifies the most promising early-stage technology companies in North America by leveraging the collective intelligence of its deep roots of Silicon Valley-based developer and startup communities, the large reach of corporate partners and investor network, and industry experts. We support the growth of these companies with corporate partnerships, market development, and venture financing; together with our global network.


About the Global Capital Summit 2020

The Global Capital Summit®  is organized by F50, Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs. The Summit finds and connects the next generation of world-changing tech innovations with partnerships to power their long-term impact. The summit will feature 60+ extraordinary sessions, and over 1000 attendees from world-leading corporations and the global investment ecosystem. The attendees are corporate executives, Angel investors, VCs, and a group of high-potential local founders. We dont expect to general any profit from this event. But if we do, we will donate the profit to the entrepreneur organizations who are helping the fight with COVID-19

Keith Teare: Syndicate Investing – the past and future

Keith Teare

Topics: AngeLlist Syndicate Jason Calacanis The Syndicate in the earlier days

Keith Teare is a Founder and Executive Chairman at Accelerated Digital Ventures Ltd – A UK based global investment company focused on startups at all stages. He was previously founder at the Palo Alto incubator, Archimedes Labs. Archimedes was the original incubator for TechCrunch and since 2011 has invested, accelerated or incubated many Silicon valley startups including Quixey; M.dot (sold to GoDaddy); chat.center; Loop Surveys; DownTown and Sunshine. Teare has a track record as a serial entrepreneur with big ideas and has achieved significant returns for investors.

History (a) Founding shareholder of Mike Arrington’s TechCrunch (acquired by AOL in Sept 2010) (b) RealNames Corporation, founded in Palo Alto in 1998. Teare was founder and CEO. The company created a multi-lingual naming system, with distinct national namespaces, sitting on top of the DNS. It used natural language keywords, mapped to URIs to allow native language navigation. Teare raised more than $130 million in venture funding and filed for an IPO (led by Morgan Stanley, with Mary Meeker as lead analyst) in 1999. After negotiating a world-wide agreement to include RealNames in the Microsoft browser in early 2000, the company had an implied valuation of more than $1.5 billion. By 2002, it was responsible for over 1 billion keyword navigations per quarter. It had agreements in Japan, China and Korea, and was responsible for supporting the nascent multi-lingual DNS system run by Verisign. (c)The EasyNet Group: Founded in 1994 as one of the first ISP’s in Europe, Teare was CTO and co-founder. It went public on the AIM exchange in London in 1996 and was trading at a valuation of more than $1 billion by 1999. In 2007, it was acquired by Rupert Murdoch’s B Sky B, where Teare’s co-founder, David Rowe is still CEO of the division. In 2010, via management buyout, it is once again an independent company. (d) Co-founder of edgeio corporation in 2005 (acquired by Looksmart in 2007) (e)Seed funder of NetNames (Acquired by NetBenefit in 2001), (f)Founder of Clerkswell (formerly cScape), a leading UK systems integrator (acquired by NetB2B2 in 2001). (g) Co-founder of CYBERIA, the world’s first Internet Cafe (h) Founding board member of fotopedia, a company founded by Jean-Marie Hullot, former CTO of Apple’s applications division. Teare studied for his BA and unfinished PhD at the University of Kent in the UK. He is on the university’s US alumni board. He is also a Smithsonian-Computerworld Laureate for his contribution of RealNames. RealNames remains part of the Smithsonian permanent collection. Teare is the author of “The Easy Net Book”, published by International Tompson in 1996; and “Under Siege”, published by Penguin in 1988. He writes regularly for TechCrunch.

Keith Teare: The “good” investment in the new normal (Pandemic)


The “good” investment In the new normal (Pandemic)

Keith Teare is a Founder and Executive Chairman at Accelerated Digital Ventures Ltd – A UK based global investment company focused on startups at all stages. He was previously founder at the Palo Alto incubator, Archimedes Labs. Archimedes was the original incubator for TechCrunch and since 2011 has invested, accelerated or incubated many Silicon valley startups including Quixey; M.dot (sold to GoDaddy); chat.center; Loop Surveys; DownTown and Sunshine. Teare has a track record as a serial entrepreneur with big ideas and has achieved significant returns for investors.


(a) Founding shareholder of Mike Arrington’s TechCrunch (acquired by AOL in Sept 2010) (b) RealNames Corporation, founded in Palo Alto in 1998. Teare was founder and CEO. The company created a multi-lingual naming system, with distinct national namespaces, sitting on top of the DNS. It used natural language keywords, mapped to URIs to allow native language navigation. Teare raised more than $130 million in venture funding and filed for an IPO (led by Morgan Stanley, with Mary Meeker as lead analyst) in 1999. After negotiating a world-wide agreement to include RealNames in the Microsoft browser in early 2000, the company had an implied valuation of more than $1.5 billion. By 2002, it was responsible for over 1 billion keyword navigations per quarter. It had agreements in Japan, China and Korea, and was responsible for supporting the nascent multi-lingual DNS system run by Verisign.

(c)The EasyNet Group: Founded in 1994 as one of the first ISP’s in Europe, Teare was CTO and co-founder. It went public on the AIM exchange in London in 1996 and was trading at a valuation of more than $1 billion by 1999. In 2007, it was acquired by Rupert Murdoch’s B Sky B, where Teare’s co-founder, David Rowe is still CEO of the division. In 2010, via management buyout, it is once again an independent company.

(d) Co-founder of edgeio corporation in 2005 (acquired by Looksmart in 2007) (e)Seed funder of NetNames (Acquired by NetBenefit in 2001),

(f)Founder of Clerkswell (formerly cScape), a leading UK systems integrator (acquired by NetB2B2 in 2001). (g) Co-founder of CYBERIA, the world’s first Internet Cafe

(h) Founding board member of fotopedia, a company founded by Jean-Marie Hullot, former CTO of Apple’s applications division. Teare studied for his BA and unfinished PhD at the University of Kent in the UK. He is on the university’s US alumni board. He is also a Smithsonian-Computerworld Laureate for his contribution of RealNames. RealNames remains part of the Smithsonian permanent collection. Teare is the author of “The Easy Net Book”, published by International Tompson in 1996; and “Under Siege”, published by Penguin in 1988. He writes regularly for TechCrunch.

Don’t Panic: Keeping Employees of Start-Up Companies Safe and Healthy During Pandemics and Other Occurrences


Life and business go on during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s just perhaps slowed down somewhat, or adjustments are being made to ensure safety.

Along the way, it’s become a priority for people to keep safe from exposure to the coronavirus, but it’s also become a priority for businesses to keep their employees (and customers, by extension) COVID free.

Know the Symptoms

Being able to determine if you may have COVID-19 is helpful, as is knowing what to do if you fear you may be ill. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Cough
  • Fever or chills
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Sudden loss of taste or smell
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Congestion or runny nose

If you have or think you may have COVID-19, it’s best to stay home. The majority of people with COVID experience mild symptoms and can recover at home without medical care. If a person has trouble breathing or experiences chest pain or pressure, however, it’s time to seek emergency medical help.

No matter how mild the case, it’s best to self-isolate to avoid spreading it to others.

If Someone Is Sick

If an employee contracts Covid, a quick response is key to ensure the safety of others. Isolate the person who is ill by sending them home right away. Clean surfaces in their workstation as quickly as possible. Anyone who the ill person had contact with in recent days should be notified. 

Encourage others to self-monitor. A policy in place for workers to self-report if they are ill is a good idea.

Anyone potentially infectious should be quickly isolated, to a separate room or office if they cannot immediately leave the premises.


While there’s no vaccine or quick test for Covid (yet), the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies. A few measures to improve the safety of workers is no guarantee of staying Covid-free, but it can dramatically reduce the risk. Consider the following to prevent spread:

  • Promote hygiene: Push a policy of frequent and thorough hand-washing, as well as providing means for workers to scrub up. Making hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol available is a good idea, too. Especially in high-traffic areas or areas away from easy access to sinks and soaps.
  • Provide personal protective equipment: Provide face masks, shields, or gloves, or install plastic barriers where necessary. 
  • Contain it: If an employee is ill, encourage them to stay home. Have an attendance policy in place that does not punish sick days so they’re less likely to come in while they’re contagious.
  • Courtesy: Encourage people to cover their mouths and noses when they sneeze or cough. Provide tissues and trash receptacles to quickly dispose of potentially contaminated items.
  • Flex it: Options such as telecommuting and flexible work hours can stagger the number of people in a given space at any one time, cutting the risk of exposure.
  • Discourage sharing of equipment when possible. Otherwise be sure to disinfect stations and surfaces between uses.
  • Keep house: Maintain regular cleaning of surfaces and equipment, and be sure to use Environmental Protection Agency-approved disinfectants.
  • Restrict traffic where necessary: In stores, for example, encourage one-way traffic, or limit the number of customers or clients in small spaces. Be sure to follow state or community guidelines. Offer options like drive-thru, curbside pickup, or contactless delivery. 
  • Improve ventilation and air flow, and add air filtration systems or equipment where possible.

How It Can Affect the Workplace

If Covid arrives at the workplace it can affect operations in a number of ways, including:

  • Absenteeism: Workers could be caring for themselves or for sick or at-risk loved ones, or tending to children due to daycare centers and schools being shuttered.
  • Commerce: High-demand items like hand sanitizers, masks, respirators, and cleaning supplies may cause shortages. 
  • Supply and delivery: There may be delays due to supply or staff shortages, which could disrupt normal, pre-Covid patterns.

Assess the Risks

There are no guarantees to avoiding Corona, but taking time to note potential issues is a smart start. Covid can spread from person to person, particularly between people in close contact. When people cough or sneeze, respiratory droplets from an infected person can land on a bystander. Without proper protection, distance (of at least six feet, ideally), hygiene, and other preventive measures (like not touching one’s face), it puts people at higher risk of getting the virus. People who have a fever or cough, they are more contagious as well.

Knowing the dangers makes it easier to design a plan to prevent spread.

Make a Plan

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) issued workplace advice to prepare for Covid. One suggestion was to develop a preparedness and response plan, using federal, state, local, tribal, and/or territorial regulations to shape procedures.

Risk levels and job duties should be considered, including:

  • Where and how workers may be exposed to Covid. (Do they deal with the general public? Is it coworker to coworker? Is it a healthcare setting where the infected may spread it to others at the facility?)
  • What risks exist outside the workplace? (Home, community, travel)
  • Employees themselves: Age, pre-existing conditions like diabetes or respiratory disease, or pregnancy put an individual at greater risk.

If Covid were to affect the workplace, employers should anticipate and plan for issues such as:

  • Potential absenteeism
  • The need for modifying the workplace. This could include staggering work shifts so less people are on site at the same time, downsizing operations, or creating more space between employees. Other exposure-limiting measures like curbside pickup or contactless delivery may be considered.
  • Work-from-home options
  • Delays due to supply chain disruptions, and alerting the customers (where applicable) of such issues


If you haven’t already, revamp your emergency preparedness plan. (This includes what you’re doing to avert disaster, and what you’ll do if disaster hits.)

Train managers and staff how to respond in emergency situations. Have communication plans in place, and educate on risk factors and prevention. 

If workers must use PPE, be sure they know how to properly put it on and remove it. Ensure everything is properly fitted, too. For medical equipment like respirators, proper disposal, disinfection, and maintenance are essential.

To prevent spread, encourage the sick to stay home. During the pandemic it’s best not to punish people for taking sick time, either. Because doctor’s offices, clinics, and hospitals may be overwhelmed, don’t insist workers get a signed slip when they take sick time.

Keep policies flexible for the time being, too. That allows workers to tend to sick family members or care for young children or aging parents. 

Federal Advice

Insurance companies, health agencies, and government entities can provide information on how to keep the work force safe and on the job.The Centers for Disease Control has tips for safety practices in various industries. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health also has information on workplace resources, coping with stress, crisis strategies, and more.

Ever Heard of a Surgical Assistant? Meet a New Boost to Your Medical Bills


Izzy Benasso was playing a casual game of tennis with her father on a summer Saturday when she felt her knee pop. She had torn a meniscus, one of the friction-reducing pads in the knee, locking it in place at a 45-degree angle.

Although she suspected she had torn something, the 21-year-old senior at the University of Colorado in Boulder had to endure an anxious weekend in July 2019 until she could get an MRI that Monday.

“It was kind of emotional for her,” said her father, Steve Benasso. “Just sitting there thinking about all the things she wasn’t going to be able to do.”

At the UCHealth Steadman Hawkins Clinic Denver, the MRI confirmed the tear, and she was scheduled for surgery on Thursday. Her father, who works in human resources, told her exactly what to ask the clinic regarding her insurance coverage.

Steve had double-checked that the hospital; the surgeon, Dr. James Genuario; and Genuario’s clinic were in her Cigna health plan’s network.

“We were pretty conscious going into it,” he said.

Isabel met with Genuario’s physician assistant on Wednesday, and the following day underwent a successful meniscus repair operation.

“I had already gotten a ski pass at that point,” she said. “So that was depressing.” But she was heartened to hear that with time and rehab she would get back to her active lifestyle.

Then the letter arrived, portending of bills to come.

The Patient: Izzy Benasso, a 21-year-old college student covered by her mother’s Cigna health plan.

College student Izzy Benasso tore a meniscus in her knee while playing tennis with her father a year ago. The charges for her subsequent outpatient knee surgery totaled $96,377.(Rachel Woolf for KHN)

The Total Bill: $96,377 for the surgery was billed by the hospital, Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, Colorado, part of HealthONE, a division of the for-profit hospital chain HCA. It accepted a $3,216.60 payment from the insurance company, as well as $357.40 from the Benassos, as payment in full. The surgical assistant billed separately for $1,167.

Service Provider: Eric Griffith, a surgical assistant who works as an independent contractor.

Medical Service: Outpatient arthroscopic meniscus repair surgery.

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What Gives: The Benassos had stumbled into a growing trend in health care: third-party surgical assistants who aren’t part of a hospital staff or a surgeon’s practice. They tend to stay out-of-network with health plans, either accepting what a health plan will pay them or billing the patient directly. That, in turn, is leading to many surprise bills.

Even before any other medical bills showed up, Izzy received a notice from someone whose name she didn’t recognize.

“I’m writing this letter as a courtesy to remind you of my presence during your surgery,” the letter read.

It came from Eric Griffith, a Denver-based surgical assistant. He went on to write that he had submitted a claim to her health plan requesting payment for his services, but that it was too early to know whether the plan would cover his fee. It didn’t talk dollars and cents.

Steve Benasso said he was perplexed by the letter’s meaning, adding: “We had never read or heard of anything like that before.”

Surgical assistants serve as an extra set of hands for surgeons, allowing them to concentrate on the technical aspects of the surgery. Oftentimes other surgeons or physician assistants — or, in teaching hospitals, medical residents or surgical fellows — fill that role at no extra charge. But some doctors rely on certified surgical assistants, who generally have an undergraduate science degree, complete a 12- to 24-month training program, and then pass a certification exam.

Surgeons generally decide when they need surgical assistants, although the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services maintains lists of procedures for which a surgical assistant can and cannot bill. Meniscus repair is on the list of allowed procedures.

A Sky Ridge spokesperson said that it is the responsibility of the surgeon to preauthorize the use and payment of a surgical assistant during outpatient surgery, and that HealthOne hospitals do not hire surgical assistants. Neither the assistant nor the surgeon works directly for the hospital. UC School of Medicine, the surgeon’s employer, declined requests for comment from Genuario.

Steve Benasso says he was perplexed after receiving a letter from the surgical assistant who was in the operating room during daughter Izzy Benasso’s knee surgery. The letter, from Eric Griffith, a Denver-based surgical assistant, stated it was “a courtesy to remind you of my presence” during Izzy’s surgery. “We had never read or heard of anything like that before,” Steve says.(Rachel Woolf for KHN)

Karen Ludwig, executive director of the Association of Surgical Assistants, estimates that 75% of certified surgical assistants are employed by hospitals, while the rest are independent contractors or work for surgical assistant groups.

“We’re seeing more of the third parties,” said Dr. Karan Chhabra, a surgeon and health policy researcher at the University of Michigan Medical School. “This is an emerging area of business.”

And it can be lucrative: Some of the larger surgical assistant companies are backed by private equity investment. Private equity firms often target segments of the health care system where patients have little choice in who provides their care. Indeed, under anesthesia for surgery, patients are often unaware the assistants are in the operating room. The private equity business models include keeping such helpers out-of-network so they can bill patients for larger amounts than they could negotiate from insurance companies.

Surgical assistants counter that many insurance plans are unwilling to contract with them.

“They’re not interested,” said Luis Aragon, a Chicago-area surgical assistant and managing director of American Surgical Professionals, a private equity-backed group in Houston.

Chhabra and his colleagues at the University of Michigan recently found that 1 in 5 privately insured patients undergoing surgery by in-network doctors at in-network facilities still receive a surprise out-of-network bill. Of those, 37% are from surgical assistants, tied with anesthesiologists as the most frequent offenders. The researchers found 13% of arthroscopic meniscal repairs resulted in surprise bills, at an average of $1,591 per bill.

Colorado has surprise billing protections for consumers like the Benassos who have state-regulated health plans. But state protections don’t apply to the 61% of American workers who have self-funded employer plans. Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, which helps consumers dispute surprise bills, has seen a lot of cases involving surgical assistants, said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement.

Izzy Benasso shows her scar from the surgery she had to repair a torn meniscus.(Rachel Woolf for KHN)

Resolution: Initially, the Benassos ignored the missive. Izzy didn’t recall meeting Griffith or being told a surgical assistant would be involved in her case.

But a month and a half later, when Steve logged on to check his daughter’s explanation of benefits, he saw that Griffith had billed the plan for $1,167. Cigna had not paid any of it.

Realizing then that the assistant was likely out-of-network, Steve sent him a letter saying “we had no intention of paying.”

Griffith declined to comment on the specifics of the Benasso case but said he sends letters to every patient so no one is surprised when he submits a claim.

“With all the different people talking to you in pre-op, and the stress of surgery, even if we do meet, they may forget who I was or that I was even there,” he said. “So the intention of the letter is just to say, ‘Hey, I was part of your surgery.'”

After KHN inquired, Cigna officials reviewed the case and Genuario’s operative report, determined that the services of an assistant surgeon were appropriate for the procedure and approved Griffith’s claim. Because Griffith was an out-of-network provider, Cigna applied his fee to Benasso’s $2,000 outpatient deductible. The Benassos have not received a bill for that fee.

Griffith says insurers often require more information before determining whether to pay for a surgical assistant’s services. If the plan pays anything, he accepts that as payment in full. If the plan pays nothing, Griffith usually bills the patient.

The Takeaway: As hospitals across the country restart elective surgeries, patients should be aware of this common pitfall.

Chhabra said he’s hearing more anecdotal reports about insurance plans simply not paying for surgical assistants, which leaves the patient stuck with the bill.

Chhabra said patients should ask their surgeons before surgery whether an assistant will be involved and whether that assistant is in-network.

“There are definitely situations where you need another set of hands to make sure the patient gets the best care possible,” he said. But “having a third party that is intentionally out-of-network or having a colleague who’s a surgeon who’s out-of-network, those are the situations that don’t really make a lot of financial or ethical sense.”

Bill of the Month is a crowdsourced investigation by KHN and NPR that dissects and explains medical bills. Do you have an interesting medical bill you want to share with us? Tell us about it!

Related Topics

Cost and Quality Health Industry States

Source: by [#item_author] from Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. More Read More

Scientists Want to Know More About Using UV Light to Fight COVID-19 Spread


High up near the ceiling, in the dining room of his Seattle-area restaurant, Musa Firat recently installed a “killing zone” — a place where swaths of invisible electromagnetic energy penetrate the air, ready to disarm the coronavirus and other dangerous pathogens that drift upward in tiny, airborne particles.

Firat’s new system draws on a century-old technology for fending off infectious diseases: Energetic waves of ultraviolet light — known as germicidal UV, or GUV — are delivered in the right dose to wipe out viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms.

Research already shows that germicidal UV can effectively inactivate airborne microbes that transmit measles, tuberculosis and SARS-CoV-1, a close relative of the novel coronavirus. Now, with concern mounting that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 may be easily transmitted through microscopic floating particles known as aerosols, some researchers and physicians hope the technology can be recruited yet again to help disinfect high-risk indoor settings.

“I thought it was a great idea, and I want my customers to be safe,” said Firat whose casual eatery, Marlaina’s Mediterranean Kitchen, is 20 minutes south of downtown Seattle.

As the U.S. grapples with how to interrupt the spread of the highly infectious virus, UV is being used to decontaminate surfaces on public transit and in hospitals where infectious droplets may have landed, as well as to disinfect N95 masks for reuse. But so far using this technology to provide continuous air disinfection has remained outside of most mainstream, policy-setting conversations about the coronavirus.

Experts attribute this to a combination of factors: misconceptions about UV’s safety, a lack of public awareness and technical know-how, concerns about the costs of installing the technology, and a general reluctance to consider the role of aerosols in the spread of the coronavirus.

Aerosols are microdroplets expelled when someone exhales, speaks or coughs. Unlike the larger and heavier respiratory droplets that fall quickly to the ground, aerosols can linger in the air a long time and travel through indoor spaces. When someone catches a virus this way, the process is called “airborne transmission.”

It’s already recognized that the coronavirus can spread by means of aerosols during medical procedures, which is why health care workers are advised to wear respirators, such as N95 masks, that filter out these tiny particles. Yet there is still considerable debate over how likely the virus is to spread in other settings via aerosols.

Recently, the question of airborne transmission gained new urgency when a group of 239 scientists called on the World Health Organization to take the threat of infectious aerosols more seriously, arguing that the “lack of clear recommendations on the control measures against the airborne virus will have significant consequences.”

WHO officials conceded that more research is needed but maintained that most infections do not happen this way.

As the science continues to evolve, UV could emerge as an attractive safeguard against airborne transmission — one with a track record against pathogens — that can be deployed to reduce the risk of infectious aerosols accumulating in indoor settings such as schools and businesses.

Inside Marlaina’s Mediterranean Kitchen, a Seattle-area eatery, which is battling the coronavirus using UV light. (Will Stone for KHN)

Ultraviolet fixtures mounted above the restaurant’s ceiling panels glow faint blue and create a “killing zone” that can wipe out viral aerosols building up in the air. Some experts are calling for wider adoption of UV light to help disinfect the air in indoor settings.(Will Stone for KHN)

Welcome to the ‘Killing Zone’

At Marlaina’s restaurant, there are just two visible clues of the new UV disinfection system — a subtle glow of blue light above the black grates of the drop ceiling, and a hand-chalked sign at the door, proudly announcing to diners: “Coronavirus Disinfected Here!”

The system was installed while the restaurant was closed during Washington state’s lockdown. The setup is known as “upper-room germicidal UV” because the UV fixtures are mounted high and angled away from humans below.

Ceiling fans circulate the air, eventually pushing any suspended viral particles that have accumulated in the dining space through the grated drop ceiling, to the area where UV lights, positioned horizontally, blast them with radiant energy.

The inspiration and technical assistance for Marlaina’s owner came from customer Bruce Davidson, a pulmonary physician who was Philadelphia’s “tuberculosis czar” in the mid-’90s. Back then, the U.S. was grappling with a new outbreak of TB that included strains resistant to existing drugs.

“Preventing transmission was the most important part, because we had no drugs, no vaccine,” recalled Davidson, who now lives outside Seattle. UV light proved to be a key strategy back then, and Davidson thinks it can help again: “It really ought to be in most indoor public spaces now.”

To demonstrate the concept, Davidson lit a cigar inside Marlaina’s and showed how the smoke danced upward, collecting in the ceiling space with the UV fixtures.

“If somebody has undetected coronavirus and doesn’t eat with a mask and is talking and so on, the vast majority of their particles are going to get pulled up there into the killing zone and circulate and bounce around,” Davidson said. “Statistically, the risk to other people is going to be very low.”

Research shows close to 90% of airborne particles from a previous coronavirus (SARS-CoV-1) can be inactivated in about 16 seconds when exposed to the same strength of UV as in the restaurant’s ceiling. Other viruses, such as the adenovirus, are more resistant and require a higher dose of UV.

“Although it’s not perfect, it probably offers the best solution for direct air disinfection” in the current pandemic, said David Sliney, a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University and longtime researcher on germicidal UV.

When used with proper ventilation, upper-room GUV is about 80% effective against the spread of airborne tuberculosis, according to several studies. This is equivalent to replacing the air in a room up to 24 times an hour.

But widespread adoption of UV systems could be an uphill battle, Sliney said, because in the U.S., interest in using UV for air disinfection has waned in recent decades as scientists focused their attention on powerful vaccines and drugs to deal with infectious diseases.

Understanding Aerosols and Airborne Transmission

UV can be a powerful weapon against an airborne virus, but it can go only so far toward preventing infection. People can still get sick from the larger, heavier droplets ejected via coughs and sneezes. They can directly inhale those droplets or touch a surface contaminated with them, and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth.

UV also does not prevent someone from being exposed to infectious aerosols that have just emerged from an infected person — and are lingering quite near his or her body — what researcher Richard Corsi called the “near field.”

“In that scenario, you’re inhaling a very concentrated cloud of these tiny particles that you can’t see,” said Corsi, dean of the Maseeh College of Engineering & Computer Science at Portland State University. “You’re getting a pretty significant dose in your respiratory system.”

So, even if there is upper-room UV in a building, Corsi said, face masks and social distancing are still necessary to block larger respiratory droplets and remove some of the aerosols in the near field. But Corsi said there’s now enough evidence to show that coronavirus aerosols can hang in the air and spread throughout a room (“the far field”), and it’s time to take that airborne spread seriously.

One example of far-field transmission is documented in a study of a restaurant in China at which some diners seated at neighboring tables contracted the COVID-19 virus despite never coming into close contact with the “index case-patient.” Another piece of evidence came from a March 10 choir practice in Mount Vernon, Washington, after which the majority of singers contracted the coronavirus, even though members of the group took precautions to use hand sanitizer and avoid hugs and handshakes.

In their letter to WHO, scientists note that the coronavirus that causes MERS can spread through aerosols, and “there is every reason to expect that [the COVID virus] behaves similarly.”

Understanding the Technology and Safety

Germicidal UV harnesses a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that contains short waves of radiant energy, called UV-C. This wavelength is further away from the visible spectrum than other forms of UV light.

Think of it as giving the virus a lethal sunburn.

“We have very little practical experience to show how effective it can be [in a pandemic] since it’s been out of use in this country and in Western Europe,” said Sliney of Johns Hopkins, who chairs a committee with the Illuminating Engineering Society, which recently released new guidance on GUV.

Sliney recommends installing UV in big-box stores, restaurants and grocery stores, which typically have high ceilings. “There needs to be vertical air exchange,” he said, as with ceiling fans, so “it’s not just sterilizing the air in the upper space of the room.”

“No one doubts the efficacy of germicidal UV in killing small microorganisms and pathogens. I think the bigger controversy, if there is any, is misperceptions around safety,” said Dr. Edward Nardell, a professor at Harvard Medical School who researches GUV.

Low-dose germicidal UV can damage the eyes and skin, but Nardell said those risks can be avoided by following the appropriate guidelines. While international guidelines warn against directly exposing humans to UV-C, the risks of skin cancer are considered negligible, especially compared with longer wavelengths of UV that can penetrate more deeply.

Could UV Make a Comeback?

With interest in UV climbing, there is concern about shoddy products on the market and exaggerated claims about their effectiveness against the virus, said Jim Malley, a professor at the University of New Hampshire who studies public health and disinfection.

Consumers should be wary of marketing claims about “UV wands” that can be waved quickly over surfaces or special “portals” that people walk through, he said, because those are probably not correctly calibrated to inactivate the virus and could be dangerous.

Malley said he does not think there’s much of a viable market for upper-room GUV outside health care settings, but he supports installing the technology in the most high-risk settings, such as meatpacking plants and nursing facilities.

“My gut feeling is we should do anything we can in those places, because we have a horrendous fatality record” with the coronavirus, he said.

At Marlaina’s restaurant, the installation was relatively straightforward.

The owner, Firat, purchased four UV fixtures (at $165 each), hired an electrician to install the fans and bought black gridded plastic panels to enclose the ceiling space where the UV is mounted.

Firat still encourages his customers to wear masks and maintain social distance. But he said the UV has become part of the ambiance.

“It’s more modern and clean, and the response is great, absolutely great,” he said.

This story is part of a partnership that includes NPR and Kaiser Health News.

Source: by [#item_author] from Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. More Read More

Pandemic-Inspired Food Labeling Raises Alarms for Those With Food Allergies


As the mother of a child with food allergies, Heather Sapp was well versed in reading labels and calling manufacturers to verify ingredients. For years, she kept her daughter’s diet free of the peanuts and tree nuts that could kill her.

But when a bite of lemon-ginger hummus three years ago sent Sapp herself into life-threatening anaphylactic shock, her dependence on labeling accuracy became more complicated. Testing determined that Sapp, now 43, had developed adult-onset anaphylactic allergies to chickpeas, sesame and cilantro. More recently, Sapp, who lives in Phoenix, had an anaphylactic reaction to parsley.

None of Sapp’s allergens are among those the Food and Drug Administration requires to be individually listed on food labels. Parsley and cilantro regularly are included under “spices” or “natural flavors.” Like many Americans with food allergies, Sapp reads ingredient labels closely, often following up with a phone call to verify ingredients, and had developed a list of manufacturers and products she considered safe.

However, Sapp was stunned when in late May the FDA released, with no warning, new temporary guidelines allowing manufacturers facing supply chain shortages amid the COVID-19 pandemic to make ingredient substitutions without changing food labels.

“How can we trust that anything is going to be safe at this point?” Sapp asked. “Even if you don’t have an allergy, people want to know what’s in their food.”

While FDA spokesperson Peter Cassell declined to address specific concerns from consumers with food allergies, he said the new guidelines were developed in conjunction with other federal agencies as one of several temporary measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Manufacturers are required to make ingredient substitutions public.

“It’s a temporary guidance in order to make sure that the supply chains throughout the country are able to provide safe and ample food for America,” Cassell said.

Because the guidelines were issued as an emergency measure, no public comment period preceded them. The FDA is now accepting comments on the new guidelines, which will remain in place until the end of the declared public health emergency, Cassell said. At that point, the FDA will decide if it should continue the policy based on public comments and industry needs.

Under the emergency measure, manufacturers are not allowed to substitute ingredients that may have an “adverse health effect, including food allergens, gluten, sulfites or other ingredients known to cause sensitivities.” The top eight recognized food allergens in the U.S. — milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and soy — as well as other priority allergens, including sesame, celery, lupin (a legume), buckwheat, molluscan shellfish and mustards, cannot be substituted under the new guidelines. The FDA still requires them to be listed on package labels.

But other minor ingredients can be temporarily substituted. With 170 known food allergens in the United States, and with concerns about cross-contact among ingredients, people with allergies are concerned about these unannounced substitutions.

For example, if a company hits a snag in the supply chain for a peppercorn it has been using, it can substitute another type of peppercorn. Some peppercorns are related to cashews and can trigger anaphylaxis in people allergic to cashews and other tree nuts. Or, while the FDA considers highly refined oils safe for people with food allergies, many consumers do not. The new guidelines allow manufacturers to substitute sunflower oil for canola oil, for example, because they share similar fatty acid profiles.

The FDA guidelines do not require new ingredient labels but recommend companies put an informational sticker on products with substituted ingredients or make that information available on their websites. The temporary guidelines went into effect on their May 22 release.

Mary Vargas, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and food allergy advocate, said she believes some of the language in the temporary guidelines makes it unclear how strict the FDA will be in its oversight of labeling and substitutions, as well as how long the guidelines might be in place.

Heather Sapp and daughter Amber check ingredient labels at the grocery store. Amber is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, while her mother has developed adult-onset food allergies in the past couple of years. (Courtesy of Heather Sapp)

“I just have a lot of confusion about what this even means,” said Vargas. “It muddies the waters rather than clarifies them.”

Molly Rittberg’s 8-year-old son is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, sunflower and sesame. Sunflower seeds or oil are often included under “spices” or “natural flavors,” which required phone calls and additional research before the new guidelines. But now Rittberg, who lives in Milwaukee, said she can’t assume manufacturers she had considered safe for ingredients or cross-contact will continue to be OK under the new labeling rules.

“We are label readers,” said Rittberg. “Even when we call and verify a product, every time I purchase a new bag or box of something, I always check the label to make sure the recipe hasn’t changed. With this temporary label change, it is going to make it even harder for us because we already have this area of not knowing what’s in the food we are consuming. Now that things can be changed or substituted without notification, it’s like we are back to square one.”

Families who are dependent on government food assistance, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, are especially vulnerable because the selection of allergy-safe food allowed under those programs is already limited, said Emily Brown, founder of the Food Equality Initiative in Kansas City, Missouri, which works to increase access to allergy-safe and gluten-free foods for economically disadvantaged families.

“You only have access to specific brands with specific quantities. So, if brands change their formula and it’s not clear, then really the most vulnerable of the vulnerable will not have access to what they need,” said Brown, whose daughters have food allergies.

Sharon Wong, a food allergy advocate and recipe blogger in California whose two sons have 30 food allergies between them, echoed Brown’s concerns. She said that while many Americans, like her, have the option to cook from scratch, the same isn’t true for everyone, and contacting manufacturers requires resources and time.

“If it’s not on the label, it’s an equity issue,” she said. “Not everybody has access to the internet. Not everyone can call during business hours. Some people have language issues.”

The new guidelines compound existing shortfalls in labeling requirements for the estimated 32 million in the U.S. with food allergies or other sensitivities, said Jen Jobrack, food allergy advocate and founding principal of Food Allergy Pros, a consulting firm that works with companies and other organizations to improve safety for people with food allergies.

The top cause of food recalls is typically undeclared allergens, according to Food Safety Magazine and Stericycle Expert Solutions, which both review food recall data. Because many Americans have more than one food allergy, Jobrack said, reliable labeling is imperative.

She added that the new guidelines also affect the hospitality industry, schools and day care centers, which will only exacerbate the problem as the country continues to reopen from the pandemic closures. She and others fear the guidance won’t be rescinded even if the pandemic supply chain issues are resolved.

“The concern really all boils down to what ingredients and what information will manufacturers be required to let consumers know,” said Jobrack.

Related Topics

Public Health

Source: by [#item_author] from Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. More Read More

Mandatory face masks might lull people into taking more coronavirus risks


Governments all around the world are trying to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Making it mandatory for people to wear face masks is a policy that has gained favor among many national governments and state authorities in the United States.

Yet any policy that attempts to modify people’s behavior – in this case, making mask-wearing a new norm – needs to take into account undesired behavioral adjustments that the policy may bring about. As behavioral economists, we know that without such consideration, the policy is bound to be less efficient than expected.

Here are two behavior alterations to look out for as mask-wearing becomes more commonplace.

streetscape with people walking and sign asking for masks before entering
As masks become the norm, there might be unexpected, unconscious tweaks in other behavior.
Sean Gardner/Getty Images News via Getty Images North America

Wearing masks, not washing hands

When things get safer, people adjust their behavior and act more recklessly. This phenomenon, called the Peltzman effect, has been documented in areas as diverse as driving, sports and financial markets, as well as in drug overdose and pregnancy prevention.

The mechanism is always the same: A safety measure (a seat belt in the case of driving or a government bailout in the case of investing) allows the recipient to take more risk (driving faster or investing in more risky instruments). In the end, the behavior becomes less responsible. In fact, a safety measure can make the activity more dangerous.

It’s easy to imagine how this could be the case with COVID-19 and face masks. Here, going into public spaces is an activity with an associated risk of getting infected. A face mask is a safety measure that is meant to decrease the probability of infection.

But the Peltzman effect will have a detrimental effect on that probability: When people feel safer with a face mask, they ease off on other forms of prevention, such as carefully washing their hands or keeping social distance. In the worst case, the risk of infection could actually increase.

Behaviorial science suggests, then, that making face masks mandatory must be accompanied by policies that maintain, if not increase, other forms of prevention. In particular, it’s important to educate the public that, on its own, a face mask is not going to prevent COVID-19 if people forget about practices like social distancing and washing hands.

One could imagine a policy that makes not only face masks but also portable hand sanitizer mandatory. Public health education could work on turning mandatory face masks into visual reminders to wash hands frequently.

Wearing masks, not staying home

The Peltzman effect does not paint a complete story of how safety measures change individuals’ behavior.

In our research, we discovered another phenomenon: Safety measures encourage the participation of those who, without these measures, would sit out the activity as too risky for them.

For example, most people would not dare to join a NASCAR race or put their money in complex financial investments. These activities are just too risky. However, you might change your mind if accompanied by a professional NASCAR driver, making the race less dangerous, or if assured of a government bailout, making investing less risky. The safety measure becomes an invitation to participate.

Two older women in spectator seats, one without mask, one worn improperly
A mask offers some protection when worn properly but it’s not magical.
Michael Hundt/AFP via Getty Images

In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, this phenomenon translates into the following problem. Equipped with face masks and a misleading feeling of safety, those who otherwise should stay home – especially older folks and those with underlying illness – head out and about. Compared to the safety of home, they’d be exposed to a higher risk of infection.

The solution here requires public health messaging to walk a fine line. Making face masks mandatory must be accompanied by education that face masks are imperfect protection against COVID-19. Masks vary greatly in their filtration efficiency. Leaving home in a face mask does not mean that the probability of infection has been reduced to zero. It is of paramount importance to educate those at higher risk of coronavirus infection.

Whether governments should make face masks mandatory is a question of medical science and political will – and not one we even try to answer. But research in behavioral economics does anticipate the complex ways people may respond to such a policy and we suggest some ways to address them.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here:Read More

ALS scientific breakthrough: Diabetes drug metformin shows promise in mouse study for a common type of ALS


An FDA-approved diabetes drug shows early signs of promise against the most common genetic form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a devastating neurological condition that causes paralysis.

ALS is a progressive disease that affects neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Motor neurons transmit signals from our brain to our muscles and allow us to move. ALS causes these motor neurons to die, resulting in the loss of a patient’s ability to speak, eat, move and breathe. Notable ALS patients include New York Yankees baseball star Lou Gehrig (the disease is often called Lou Gehrig’s disease), physicist Stephen Hawking and New Orleans Saints football star Steve Gleason. There are currently more than 30,000 cases of ALS in the United States, and life expectancy after diagnosis is typically 2 to 5 years. There is currently no cure for ALS.

I am a scientist who studies neurological diseases that run in families, and I have been working hard to find a treatment to stop ALS. Our team has made a discovery, detailed in a scientific study, that paves the way for further research for improving disease in a genetic type of ALS caused by a mutation in a gene with the unwieldy name chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9orf72), based on its location on chromosome 9. In addition to ALS, mutations in this gene can also cause frontotemporal dementia, which can cause apathy, loss of emotional control and cognitive decline. Some patients with the C9orf72 mutation develop ALS, others develop frontotemporal dementia and some develop both. Together, these diseases are referred to here as C9-ALS/FTD.

When motor neurons are damaged and die, muscles atrophy and patients lose the ability to speak, eat, move and breathe.
blueringmedia / Getty Images

Repeating theme in ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases

I have been focusing on C9-ALS, which is the most common genetic type of ALS which is caused by a mutation in the C9orf72 gene. The mutation occurs when six letters of DNA that make up part of the gene’s genetic code – GGGGCC – are repeated hundreds of extra times. It is as if a single word is repeated hundreds of times in the same sentence.

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The gene mutation that causes C9-ALS is part of a much larger family of diseases that are caused by similar expansions of short repeated segments of DNA.

Repeat expansion mutations were first discovered in 1991 as the cause of Fragile X syndrome and spinal bulbar muscular atrophy, and this type of mutation is now known to cause more than 50 different neurologic diseases.

Over the past 30 years, I have been studying these types of expansion mutations, including those that cause a disease called spinocerebellar ataxia type 8 that affects coordination and the muscle disease myotonic dystrophy type 2. I have been particularly interested in understanding how these gene mutations work, and there have been some big surprises.

One mutation, two RNAs and six unexpected proteins

Typically, a gene encoded in DNA makes a single copy of an intermediate molecule called RNA, which the cell uses to manufacture a protein. Also, portions of genes are typically not expressed as proteins. The repeat expansion mutation in C9-ALS and many other neurological diseases occurs in these gene regions not expected to produce proteins. But, when a repeat expansion is present, the mutated region produces up to six unexpected and toxic proteins.

This expansion mutation was previously thought to be silent and not produce any proteins. Now we know it produces two RNAs and six RAN proteins.
Laura Ranum, CC BY-SA

In 2006, we started to unravel how this happens by discovering that the spinocerebellar ataxia type 8 repeat expansion mutation produces two RNAs instead of just one. This double-the-trouble scenario was also found in myotonic dystrophy type 1 and is now known to occur for many repeat expansion disorders.

In 2011, we discovered that these repeat-expansion mutations also break the previously established dogma that a start signal embedded in the genetic code is required to make proteins. In contrast, we showed that when a repeat expansion mutation is present, proteins are produced without a start signal and extra, unexpected proteins are made – up to six for each expansion mutation.

We called these rogue proteins repeat associated non-AUG (RAN) proteins. These proteins accumulate in neurons and other brain cells, damaging them and causing disease. RAN proteins have now been found in 10 different repeat expansion diseases, including Huntington’s disease and Fragile X tremor ataxia syndrome.

In C9-ALS mice, we have shown that destroying RAN proteins using antibodies in mice improves lifespan, the survival of motor neurons and other key aspects of the disease.

In the newly published study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, our team discovered a cellular switch that, when turned on, hijacks the cell and forces it into making RAN proteins. RNA copies of the expansion mutations turn on this switch, called the protein kinase R pathway.

Turning off the protein kinase R pathway switch blocks RAN protein production for multiple types of disease-causing repeat expansions, making protein kinase R a possible Achilles heel for RAN protein diseases. These results had me and my colleague Tao Zu, a research assistant professor, tremendously excited.

Metformin shows promise for C9-ALS/FTD and other expansion diseases

I decided that we should test the FDA-approved diabetes drug metformin after hearing Nahum Sonenberg, a longtime collaborator, present data showing that this drug improved disease in mice with Fragile X syndrome, a disease involving a missing protein. Even though Fragile X disrupts protein production in a completely different way, I thought that because metformin normalized protein production in Fragile X syndrome, maybe it could do the same for RAN protein diseases.

Although it was a long shot, I asked Dr. Zu to test metformin in cells to see if the drug would lower RAN protein levels. The results in cells very clearly showed that it did. We went on to show that metformin inhibits protein kinase R, reduces RAN proteins and improves disease in C9-ALS/FTD mice. It is important to emphasize that this approach is thought to work for this particular genetic form of ALS and frontotemporal dementia because the C9orf72 mutation makes RAN proteins. In a previous research study conducted by a different group, metformin treatment was not effective in mice with a different form of ALS that does not produce RAN proteins.

Typically, it takes a decade or more to move promising research from the lab to the clinic. Metformin was introduced in 1957 in France and approved in 1995 in the United States. Because metformin is widely used as a safe and effective treatment for Type 2 diabetes with few side effects, we can skip the arduous drug-development process and immediately test if the benefits of metformin treatment in mice are also found in people with C9-ALS.

My colleagues and I at the University of Florida have already started a Phase 2 open-label trial to test the effects of metformin in C9-ALS patients. In this first open-label trial, in which everyone will receive the drug, we will be testing to see if the drug is safe for patients with C9-ALS and if it lowers RAN protein levels in the cerebrospinal fluid.

If the results are promising, the next step would be to test the potential benefits of the drug in a larger, placebo-controlled trial. We are especially excited about metformin as a potential treatment for C9-ALS/FTD and other repeat expansion disorders, because by reducing RAN proteins, it could address a fundamental problem common to many of these diseases.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here:Read More

SVE Demo Updated Format, Voting Process, and Prizes


SVE Demo, the oldest community demo meetu, announced updated format and voting process:

  • New Application: 30 seconds video
  • New Live /  Video Format (15minutes including Pitching & Judge Q&A)
  • New: Multiple Winners (By Judges)
  • New Voting Process: win a meeting with Judge
  • New Prize: Winner Acceptance into F50 Elevate Cohort II, including chance to Present at F50 Global Capital Summit Fall
  • More: sve.io/DemoS

Apply today!

The new SVE Demo Process

SVE DEMO August Schedule
Aug 14 Application Deadline
Aug17: Startup announced online (Youtube and Meetup), Pitch Bootcamp trainingAug 18: Live and voting start9:20 AM Zoom open
9:30 Opening Remark
9:35 Judge Roundtable
9:40 Demo Sessions (4-6)
10:40 SVE Mixer (Open Mic)
11AM Judge Panel Review (Private)Aug 20: Winner announced

Buy tickets to join the live studio!

SVE Demo July

SVE Demo July got nearly 6000 views and about 200  community votes. Check out our companies! https://youtu.be/Z533IB1kAlAWinner – dokat.ai SVE Demo Global July
 Entrepreneur’s Choice July (Popular vote)
 More on SVE Youtube Channel

Security robots KnighScope closed $29M funding


Knightscope announced $29 million funding on Startup Engine

Knightscope has designed and built revolutionary robots that are able to provide 24/7/365 security to places we visit everyday (Made in the USA 🇺🇸). Knightscope’s robots are making hospitals, logistics facilities, manufacturing plants, schools, and corporations safer. With over 10,000 investors and over $40 million raised since inception, Knightscope is aiming to be the future of public safety and security. And, yes, robots are immune and have continued patrolling across the country despite the pandemic.

Source: Knigthscope

Moscase won Entrepreneur’s Choice at SVE Demo July


Mocase won the “Entrepreneur’s Choice” at SVE Demo July

Moscase is focusing on a whole-body solution to support the health and well-being of people. We are committed to improving the understanding and access to wellness services.

Dokat.AI Won the Startup of Month at SVE Demo July


SVE Demo announced the Startup of Month July Winner: Dokat.inc, the Unique Broad-spectrum UV-C Germicide. Kills Bacteria, Viruses & Molds like SARS, MERS, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 & Influenza virus.

Judge announcement and feedback

Dokat.AI demo Video

Replay of the live Q&A

Moe about SVE Demo

SVE Demo July: Dokat.AI,Encoll, Hygenia, Hubly, Moscase, Lief


We are proud to present the final 6 startups for the SVE Demo July. Please vote for the “Entrepreneur’s Choice” startup award by”like” the video you select before 11AM on Wed July 22. The startup received the max number of likes are the winner.

For your convenice, here are the six startups videos order by startup name.

More info: SVE.io/Demo

Ryo Kurita of KDDI America invites you to SVE Demo


Ryo Kurita KDDI America, General Manager International Business Leader in Telecommunication, Cloud and Data Center Markets Biography: Ryo Kurita is the general manager of the San Francisco branch at KDDI. KDDI is the second-largest Japanese telecom carrier that operates a wide variety of telecom assets from wireless and fixed networks to the data centers across the globe. Ryo leads the international business unit that manages all aspects of business development including strategic partnerships and investments with tech companies in Silicon Valley. Ryo earned a master’s degree in Business Administration, Strategy & Innovation from California State University East Bay.

SVE Demo Global Announced India healthTech Startup Phablecare as winner


India healthtech startup PhableCare won the first SVE Demo Global organized by SVE Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs , the No.1 Startup Pitching meetup in Silicon Valley

PhableCare exists to improve the quality of life of millions of patients affected by long-term ailments by making healthcare patient-centric, easily accessible & pocket-friendly. Phable brings together patients, doctors and health devices creating an ecosystem which will significantly improve treatment outcomes

The announcement made Pavan Kuar

SVE Demo, Silicon Valley’s #1 Pitching meetup Goes Global

SVE Demo, the largest and oldest startup community pitching meetup organized by Silicon Valley Entrepreneur & Startup community announced July 22nd the second global online demo meetup with special partnership with F50 Elevate after the success of SVE Demo Global @ F50 Global Capital Summit
For the past ten years, the SVE Demo Days was an off-site event in the Bay Area that many of you attended. It was fun to watch pitches, listen to investors, network and be part of an unique community of entrepreneurs, disruptions, innovators and startup enthusiasts.

With the home shelter announced in the Bay Area in Feb.2020, all the excitement around SVE Demo days stopped overnight and all our plans went for a toss. Refusing to give up, we once again wore our founder’s hat to redefine SVE Demo Day’ under the new normal. We spoke to numerous founders, investors and  entrepreneurs from this community to take their inputs, ideas and suggestions.

Like most others, SVE Demo Day went online in March, 2020. After two online demo events, we realized that the event is attractinga much larger global audience and startup enthusiasts from across the world want to be part of the SVE community; an aha moment.
The Past June 16&17th SVE Demo Global in the recent F50 Global Capital Summit(GCS) that happened on 16 & 17th June, 2020, we took a bolder gamble of running an online startup demo pitch. We called it ‘SVE DEMO GLOBAL’. ‘SVE Global Demo’ started at 9.00am(PST) on 16th June, alongside the other two, with live pitches, mentor insights, featured startup presentations etc.. Our stage was live for over 6 hours and many members of this community and global audience joined to watch founders, judges, investors and thought leaders share their views. We had over 5,000 audience members during the live event and the videos on SVE.io youtube channel are being watched even today.Please watch the first ever ‘SVE Demo Global’ videos listed below and share with your network.
The introduction of the Panelists came in the June 16 SVE Demo Global Event.The Winner of our past SVE Demo Global EventThe full version of SVE Demo Global is on our SVE YouTube Channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIsDqlIIRiyWhmcUHwtcseA

Today, our objectives are redefined and goals are ambitious. After connecting the Bay Area startup community for ten long years, together let us extend our reach to every corner of the world to integrate into a larger community networking founders, investors, wantrepreneurs etc..In this new journey of SVE Demo Global, we urge your active participation by inviting your friends, peers, family and network across the globe to join us. Together, let us make

SVE Youtube Channel

Startup Demo: 7EDU, Jun Lu @ F50 Global Capital Summit 2020


Startup Showcase: 7EDU Presenter: Jun Liu, CEO & Founder

SVE Elevate Stage, F50 Global Capital Summit Spring 2020

7EDU’s primary mission is to deliver the most effective quality of education to every single one of our students. We believe that every individual learns differently – thus, our educators understand that personalizing every student’s learning experience is the key to unlock their unique academic potential. Furthermore, 7EDU Impact Academy has embraced technological advances with adaptive teaching principles since its conception in 2014 & has delivered tremendous breakthroughs in the academic achievements of those we service. By consistently nurturing young minds to unearth their hidden potential while maintaining its position as a leader in educational technology, 7EDU Impact Academy promises to continue advancing its teaching methodology to accommodate for modern learning environments and to provide unique, personalized learning experiences designed for students to reach their highest goals in academics. For more information, please visit our website at https://www.7edu.online.

About Jun Liu

Founder and CEO of 7EDU, MBA in Social Entrepreneurship As the founder of 7EDU Impact Academy, Jun expresses her passion for education through her positive attitude and unshakeable belief in every student’s potential for academic achievement, regardless of the circumstance. Before starting 7EDU, Jun witnessed first-hand the tremendous weaknesses in traditional K-12 programs, particularly the lack of technological integration; thus, it is her belief that the application of new & emerging technology in combination with personalized teaching methodology is key to the future of academia. By combining adaptive teaching principles with advances in machine learning, Jun founded 7EDU Impact Academy in 2015 to redefine the educator’s philosophical approach to teaching by leveraging modern technology to personalize every learning experience for each student’s unique definition of success. Jun believes that every student learns differently, and that technology allows for educators to accommodate for all learning styles on a case-by-case basis.

SVE Global Demo & Elevate Track

is meant for entrepreneurs, founders, mentors, accelerators and investors. The track will provide a platform for early startups to present their idea to a global panel of judges, bootcamp sessions by reputed mentors, F50 Elevate Cohort Startup presentations and presentations by some of the highly successful startups. This the best opportunity for startup enthusiasts to learn from founder presentations and insights from industry leaders and investors. About the Global Capital Summit® (GCS): The Global Capital Summit® (GCS) is organized by F50, and co-hosted with F50 Elevate accelerator, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, UCSF Entrepreneurship Center, and Silicon Valley Entrepreneur community. As the flagship event for the startup venture ecosystem, GCS finds and connects the next generation of world-changing tech innovators with partnerships to power their long-term impact, especially the ones that improve the living of humanity. The summit will feature 60+ extraordinary products and innovations, and over 700 attendees from world-leading corporations and the global investment ecosystem. The attendees are corporate executives, Angel investors, VCs, and a group of high-potential local founders.

Daniel Kraft Keynote: Future of Medicine and HealthTech @ F50 Global Capital Summit


Keynote speech at F50 Global Capital Summit Spring 2020

Daniel Kraft, Chair of Medicine, Singularity Exponential


Daniel Kraft is a Stanford and Harvard trained physician-scientist, inventor, entrepreneur, and innovator. With over 25 years of experience in clinical practice, biomedical research and healthcare innovation, Kraft has served as Faculty Chair for Medicine at Singularity University since SU’s inception, and founded and is chair of Exponential Medicine, a program that explores convergent, rapidly developing technologies and their potential in biomedicine and healthcare. Following undergraduate degrees from Brown University and medical school at Stanford, Daniel was Board Certified in both Internal Medicine & Pediatrics after completing a Harvard residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital & Boston Children’s Hospital, and fellowships in hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplantation at Stanford. He has multiple patents on medical device, immunology and stem cell related patents through faculty positions with Stanford University School of Medicine and as clinical faculty for the pediatric bone marrow transplantation service at University of California, San Francisco.

Daniel was selected as a fellow of the inaugural 2016 class of the Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellowship and is a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

Daniel’s academic research has focused on: stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, stem cell derived immunotherapies for cancer, bioengineering human T-cell differentiation, and humanized animal models. Clinical work focuses on: bone marrow / hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for malignant and non-malignant diseases in adults and children, medical devices to enable stem cell based regenerative medicine, including marrow derived stem cell harvesting, processing and delivery. He also implemented the first text-paging system at Stanford Hospital. Dr. Kraft recently founded IntelliMedicine, focused on enabling connected, data driven, and integrated personalized medicine. He is also the inventor of the MarrowMiner, an FDA approved device for the minimally invasive harvest of bone marrow, and founded RegenMed Systems, a company developing technologies to enable adult stem cell based regenerative therapies. Daniel is an avid pilot and has served in the Massachusetts and California Air National Guard as an officer and flight surgeon with F-15 & F-16 fighter Squadrons. He has conducted research on aerospace medicine that was published with NASA, with whom he was a finalist for astronaut selection.

Other professional activities:
Founder, IntelliMedicine & RegenMed Systems
Inventor of the FDA approved MarrowMiner
Adviser to the X PRIZE Foundation (Life Sciences), helped conceive and design the Medical Tricorder XPRIZE, and is Bold Innovator for Cancer XPRIZE.
Adviser to Rock Health, Qualcomm Life, Nokia and several life sciences and Healthcare-IT startups
Kauffman Fellow

Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry, Brown University
Medical Doctor, Stanford University School of Medicine
Residency: Harvard Combined Residency in Internal Medicine & Pediatrics
Fellowships: Stanford, Hematology/Oncology & Bone Marrow Transplantation