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Category Archives: BioEngineering

Healthgamescamp – liveblog; part 2 – break time!

It's about 5:00pm now. And we are on a has been so much fun playing. As part of the game, we broke off into many groups, working on problems ranging from environment health, where yours truly ended up to diabetes, stress reduction and positive thinking! It has been a great ride, looking at how to convince the various stakeholders including the fun lover, the caregiver, the freakonomist, the healthcare-misbehaviorist and the game builder among several other things. For each of these categories of stakeholders, we had to decide how we were going to do the convincing...and now here are some photos for you.

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Healthgamescamp – liveblog: "It’s crazy and wild and fun"

"It's crazy and wild and fun" - that is what David, one of the co-organizers has to say. I would agree. The event started at about 1:00pm, with the usual exercise where we all created "visual doodles" to paste on our upper bodies and carry on our selves as we walked around, chatted and engaged in making friends.

So far we had a couple of warm up exercises, including demo games from volunteers on converting first time customers into repeat, loyal customers and one on dating...go figure!

We followed up with an idea session, where we threw up ideas on 3x5s and now are going through a grouping exercise followed by a pitch of our skills in specific areas related to the groups of games...oh fun. Here are a few images for your reference.

More to follow! Watch this space

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Healthgamescamp, San Francisco is tomorrow, barcamps and more…

Healthgamescamp is a barcamp organized specifically to create digital and non-digital games specifically geared towards creating a positive change in people's health behavior. Any barcamp can be fun and of course this is truly fun for yours truly, so, yes, I am going and I thought I would do a "pre" post.

Of course, some of you are wondering...

Whatever is a barcamp?

In the spirit of open, barcamps have come to be "unconferences" or user-generated conferences. Of course, I could go on and on plagiarizing wikipedia and fatten this post, but I will link it here for you to read. Suffice it to say, the concept of open conferences, run by user generated ideas is a really cool thing. If you wish to disagree...well maybe you should pay thousands of dollars and fly to some island off-season.!

As usual, the first barcamp happened here in Palo Alto, and things have gotten, er big. They have also grown from one field to many. Learn more here:


HealthGamesCamp is organized by David Schafran, a great acquaintance with experience doing some excellent work for Villagro in India, and Julian Keith Loran of the Innovation Management Institute, whom I am yet to meet.

The idea of this specific unconference is to bring together all kinds of folks ranging from healthcare professionals to policy product managers to mHealth gurus and beyond. Of course, I am not aware of who the attendees are yet, but I will try to do a post-event blog and try to highlight all the exciting things I learn about!

Alright, only a few more hours left..

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The World Diabetes Day is here

November is Diabetes Awareness Month (incidentally, it is also the Lung Cancer Awareness Month) and this year, November 14th is the World Diabetes Day.

Diabetes, or originally Diabetes Mellitus derived it's name from the sweet taste of urine that was used as a diagnostic by the Romans. As a disease, it is no stranger to human civilization and has afflicted humans for a while now.

Type 1: As an autoimmune disease, Diabetes Type I, is inherently a disease where the body simply cannot produce insulin via the "islets of Langerhans" thus unable to produce enough energy needed for subsistence. This disease is more prevalent in young children and in adults. Through insulin therapies, this disease can be managed, but is debilitating nevertheless.

Type 2: Diabetes Type 2, typically has an adult onset. In this condition, the body is simply unable to produce enough insulin to convert sugar into energy, or the cells do not use the insulin as expected. Type 2 is the more prevalent form, has been diagnosed in 24 million Americans (an estimate upped form 21 million) and is expected to afflict more people, who are probably simply unaware of it. In countries like India, and among Indians everywhere it has reached epidemic proportions as well.

Some of the causes include unhealthy life styles, eating and working habits and so on. People with rice based diets of Asian origin appear to be afflicted by this disease more often.

Type 3: Is there a type 3? New research has shown that a certain number of children with Type 1 Diabetes also show tendencies for Diabetes Type 2. This is a risky condition and thus, even though it has been statistically delineated, has been assigned it's own category. The "double diabetes" as it is known is attributed to patients being overweight and a general lack of awareness.

Apart from this, gestational diabetes refers to the onset of diabetes during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes may then prolong throughout the mother's lifetime and can become Type 2 diabetes at that point.


The biggest gap, when it comes to diabetes stems form a lack of awareness. Diabetes would be diagnosed in a lot more people if only they were made aware of diabetes and the symptoms and the predispositions.

One has to remember that people with diabetes Type 2 may not even have the symptoms sometimes. Please refer to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) website for a list of symptoms to watch out for either type of diabetes:

You should consider taking a Diabetes Risk Test:

The World Diabetes Day website also lists some risk factors:

You should also look at some of the warning signs here:


My friends at TuDiabetes ( ) a non-profit organization focused on Diabetes Awareness, Actions and other Campaigns have a video for you!

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Are you an entrepreneur? A job seeker? Where are your major hurdles coming from?

A big hello to everyone. It has been a while since I have posted, but I am hoping to post more in the coming week. Remember, it is both the National Diabetes Month and the National Lung Cancer Month. More on this later. Last week, I fell behind my email and everything else, as it seems common nowadays.

A video on jobs - on or off topic?

Combing through and cleaning up, I came across an interesting video. I am not sure how accurate it is, and I am not sure if it is on-topic or off-topic. Personally, I feel that there are some lessons to be learned here, for any kind of entrepreneur, or for folks who are interested in real social change and not simply "mob by association".

First, the video

To preface, this video is very cynical and the Southern drawl appears to be accentuated to the point of entertainment, but the video provides you with examples ranging from the mundane to the bizarre, talking about how local and state governments hinder start-ups and the creation of jobs!

Watch it here:

Some thoughts for the entrepreneur

1. Let's go with my golden rule. Do not believe or trust anyone wholeheartedly. There are too many organizations out there that are extremely politicized.

2. As an entrepreneur, you can sit there and wish that all the paperwork and regulations would go away. However, you need to think in terms of what you can do in the near future and over time. In the near future, as you burn through precious, yet limited resources, you should make sure your success is not impeded by bureaucracy.

If you have a choice of location, then try to find out where you can locate your organization. If not, focus on working within your region's legal maze.

Get help, not rhetoric

Starting up? In most places, you are not alone. You can choose what you will have - rhetoric or real help. Nowadays, I see hundreds of formal and informal organizations crop up everywhere - ranging from meaningful non profits to informal online groups. Not all the advise you hear is right, relevant or good, but you can filter through the messages with enough effort. I have posted about a couple in the past and as and when I find relevant groups I will post them here. I am sure a web search will turn up more resources elsewhere as well.

3. The long term - what can you do?

Whether you succeed or fail, there is something that happens every 2 - 4 years (and if you are in other parts of the world, the message about bureaucracy still holds) - we call them elections. Make sure that you send a very clear message to your Congressperson, the state legislators, the mayors and councilors that your vote and the vote of like-minded entrepreneurs hinges on them making some real changes to "business as usual". This is so much better than empty rhetoric!

4. Who changes the world?

For every Gandhi (and yes, I have immeasurable respect for him) there are silent masses that followed them, motivated them and supplemented them to move the world forward. So it is indeed entrepreneurs and individual businesses that dictate change, not governments small or large or the parties that steal votes from go out there and make those changes!

5. Read, read and read some more. This is the best way to keep yourself up to date on all that is going on around you - new law, new regulations and even stuff that people pull because they are insensitive to your difficulties. Since you are a small business owner, you don't have an army of lawyers to identify what affects you and what doesn't. So, prepare!


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DIYBio gets a little more local…Bangalore just got one – is there one in your area?

You must be living in a cave disconnected from the internet, "smart" phones and Government paranoia, if you haven't heard of "DIY"bio...the new movement where citizens create fluorescent cats, third arms and pet Homo zombius'es...(there may be people trying to do these things, but this is not what the DIYBio movement is about, but hey, since logic and commonsense are not essential to our politicians or to those who do very little to serve or protect us..)

What is DIYBio?

Most revolutions in human science and society took off with home-grown innovations. While Kings commissioned large sums of money and bounties, it took James Watt with his steam engine, the Wright brothers with their flight, and the Curies with their home-grown chemistry lab (I mean literally, the innovation of a century in radiology was cooked up by the Curies working their asses off in a shack offered up by skeptical University folks). And then we have the perennial "garage start up" much so that now we have a company named "Willow Garage".

Yet, one field had lacked this spunk - enter a bunch of hitherto disparate folks trying to do a "garage" bio or life-science company. Like so many people blind to this, it took a report of Government paranoia (suits showing up at people incubating eggs and so on), I learned about the group through a string or articles that just multiplied the story to create a din loud enough for me to sit up and pay attention.

Since then, of course I have joined the groups, watched our local DIYBio group , "BioCurious" gain funding pledges and I have generally been enjoying the fraternity of research.

The essential idea, globally and locally is to cause revolutions in the life sciences that promote both basic research and cures. This spans the gamut, ranging from fundamental biology to genetics and personalized medicine!

Of course, there is more, however, I am not going to write a pompous essay - just visit the links at the end of this post to learn more about the DIYBio movement!

Bangalore DIYBio:

Localization is important to invite new people into the fore, get the intimidation and information overloads that the 21st century has wrought on us down to an acceptable level and allow for explosive growth. While local groups have been popping up everywhere, the Bangalore group, as far as I can tell, is a first for India. Congratulations to Deepan Chakravarthy for starting the group!

There is a lot of programming talent in India. I am sure the lifesciences in various forms are also attracting enough attention. Consequentially, I hope that this group can bring these folks together, locally in India.

The value of collective bargaining

When I first came to the US as a graduate student (and even a little before that), one of the clear causes for such success in the US became quite self-evident: "associations", "societies" and the whole lot.

Of course, there are times when groups such as NFIB and Advamed are up to no go..ahem, hmm, let's go back to the main topic.

Individually, it would be so hard for folks to do things. By grouping together, we can motivate each other, share ideas, and present forums that can be societal, technical and as it seems to be quite necessary with most endeavors nowadays, political as well!

India does have quite a handful of associations and societies. However, a lot more need to come up. I saw a handful pop up - HeadStart, the local barcamp groups, the OCC or Open Coffee Club groups and so on. With a population continuously hungry to put India on the 21st century map, I think such associations including the DIYBio Bangalore group, that may currently look small and frail are doing their job.

So my question to you: Do you have a DIY-Anything group locally?

Especially, do you have a DIYBio group that is local to where you live? If so, have you joined and contributed? How about starting one if it is necessary?

Do-It-Yourself-er, with a lot of friends, it's easy!

Setting up a new group is not tough. Here are a few things you could do to get started:

1. Find out if you have folks interested in starting one. Join the diybio group (link at the end of the post, I promise). Ask who else is working on "bio" stuff locally.

2. Find out if there are local Universities that have folks doing the same thing. Attend lectures, go to meetings and chat people up.

3. Simply start a group - then blog, tweet, holler and draft your friends as volunteers (that's right!) to either join, or get the word out.

4. Conduct simple meetings, demos, educational events - there is a lot on the playbook that the folks who have already done it at Biocurious and other organizations that can talk to you about - reach out!

So, let's get to some resources.


1. The DIYbio Google Group:

2. DIYBio website:

3. Find local DIYBio Groups:

4. The Bangalore DIYBio Group:

5. DIYBio on Grouply:

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