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A  special salon evening of medicine, music, mystery (and even ultrasound) …was  hosted this week by  Dr. Jordan Shlain of Private Medical Services at the historic Sherman House (thanks also to the hosting of Peter Getty) in San Francisco bringing together a diverse crowd to mix, learn and discuss various aspects of medicine and to enjoy some magic. The evening was inspired by Leonard Shlain,  Josh Felser of Freestyle Capital and Carleen Hawn of HealthSpottr.com

After mixing, noshing and wine under the spell of a stellar string quartet and some top-notch up close magic by Tom Nixon we gathered in the main hall for 3 presentations with Q&A.

Dr. Paul Turek, an SF based urologist focused on male reproductive health, led off with a talk describing the relationships between “Stem Cells, Erections, and Men’s Health”… highlighting the unmet need (approaching 50% of 50 year olds…) and physiology of shall we say… male performance.  Dr Turek highlighted some early pre-clinical researchstem cells isolated from human testis (good luck finding volunteer’s for that study…)  was published in work by Dr Turek and colleagues at Stanford and UCSF. suggesting that stem and other cells derived from fat (liposuction)   are showing promise in treatment of ED (at least so far if you are an obese rat…).  I’ll editorialize here to say that is  in many current studies of ‘stem cell’ therapy… it seems the cells may secrete factors which increase blood supply… but aren’t turning into tissues of the treated tissue.  Paul also covered stem cell basics delineating the differences between ‘pluripotent’ (meaning they can have the potential to turn into any cell type) stem cells traditionally derived from embryonic stem cells and the rapidly evolving field of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) in which skin cells can be reprogrammed to their ‘stemness progrm’ .  A potential new source of deriving your own (if you are a male) pluripotent

After a brief magic  interlude… Thomas Goetz spoke. He is a journalist and executive editor at WIRED, (with a masters in public health as well) and is the author of a terrific new book, The Decision Tree. Thomas discussed some of the implications of our increasing ability to have access to increasingly available and accurate medical information. These data sources range from our cholesterol and other lab results (often accessible online),  to information streams newly being made open and available from the gove

rnment, to collaborative health tools, and self-tracking data from consumer devices such as the Nike Fit (which ran the world’s largest marathon) , the FitBit and other ‘quantified self’ technologies.

Dr. Catherine Mohr who directs robotic surgery research and innovations at Intuitive Surgical shared some of their new work on enhancing the sense and vision for surgeons. The field of minimally invasive robotic surgery is booming. More than 80% of prostatectomies  (surgical removal of the prostate in the setting of cancer) are now done with surgical robots (and a surgeon… at least still at this point) as compared to 8% less than a decade ago. The surgeon, who now sees into the patients via a 3-D viewing station, will in the future overlay additional information such as the location of hidden blood vessels, cancerous lymph nodes that light up, or the integration of CT and MRI data to enhance the surgical intervention. Catherine showed research protocols with fluorescence Imaging on the da Vinci Surgical System for Intraoperative Near Infrared Imaging which augments the limits of normal vision.

The salon continued- with chamber music, more wine, conversation and of course… what is a medical salon without a demo of a the Signos hand held ultrasound.  I tried it… remarkably small and inexpensive (~$4K)…  and while I’m  not a radiologist, got the hang of using in in a few minutes and could find the gall-bladder, kidneys etc of the patient ultrasound model.


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