Category Archives: Healthcare

Grinding ideas to powder?



“There are few sectors as resistant to change as government and health care,” says Susannah Fox, CTO of the Department of Health and Human Services. Her interview with Laura Landro is in the Wall Street Journal today. “We count on their stability. But I have seen those two millstones grind a great idea down to powder. I’ve also seen initiatives flourish and grow, nurtured on the strong platform that this agency provides.” 

Here is the interview.

My take: In this election season, the image of government-as-inexorably-slow-millstone actually offers a modicum of comfort.

Disclosure: She is my daughter.

Above: Millstones from Evans Pharmaceutical Laboratories, Fleet Street, Liverpool. Used for grinding drugs from c.1846-1948. Catalyst Science Discovery Centre.

Photo by Mike Peel (, CC BY-SA 4.0,





Startups in the Nation’s Service

demo day

A quick way to cure a hangover, a new medical imaging technique, an innovation in American Sign Language, a hackathon tool kit, a robot sous chef, and a fashion discovery engine  — some of the best and brightest Princeton undergraduates are launching exciting startups. List here.

They’ve been working all summer in the Keller Lab, and their Demo Day in Princeton is Tuesday, August 9, 2:30 p.m. at the Friend Center. You need to register!

I can’t attend. If anyone who reads this can go, and wants to write it up for this blog, I’d welcome that. If you don’t have my email, put in the comments that you’d be willing to be a guest blogger.



Join the Maker Movement

Today is Maker’s Day in Trenton. A couple of weeks ago my daughter hosted Maker’s Day at Health and Human Services in Washington. “Innovation is a force for good” and “Creative thinking is a muscle we must exercise” are some of my favorite quotes.

The future of our society may be in creating change at scale across government and industry.

In Trenton, the future starts at Roebline Wire Works, noon to four.

‘Dust does not discriminate’

A shout out to Telequest who produced this great video for Isles on how to fight dust with effective house cleaning methods. Watch it if you need motivation to use a vacuum cleaner more often. I just found the video and like the tip about getting an extra damp mop bucket instead of using the kitchen sink.

Transforming mental health: Janssen’s Kramer

Craig Kramer works for healthcare firm Janssen, but he and his wife had their own personal health challenge: Their daughter suffered from an eating disorder. Kramer speaks at the Princeton Regional Chamber luncheon on Thursday, June 2, 11:30 a.m. at the Forrestal Marriott. His topic: The business case for transforming mental health.

At minute 4: end-of-life decisions

Barile at hospitalWHYY’s Newsworks Tonight aired a segment tonight (April 14, 2016) that featured Dr. David Barile’s NJ Goals of Care,.the nonprofit that aims to match patient goals with available therapies by using the NJ POLST (Practitioner Orders for Life Sustaining Treatments) form. Health reporter Elana Gordon also interviewed me re how a caregiver deals with end-of-life decisions. Ten years ago, without good medical guidance, I made end-of-life decisions for a loved one that still keep me awake at night. Two years ago, as a caregiver for a relative in Princeton, I had the benefit of an excellent palliative consult and the POLST process, and I could be completely comfortable with the decisions.

I’m not used to being on the “other end” of an interview, but Gordon expertly elicited an appropriate soundbite.  elana gordon

Here is the podcast link where Barile’s segment is minutes 4 to 6. And here is my first-person story “Evangelist for Palliative Care: Listen First, Then Prescribe,” based on my caregiving experience in 2014,  for U.S. 1 Newspaper.

This Saturday, April 16, is National Healthcare Decisions Day. Much is made of the need for Advanced Directives, and the Princeton Senior Resource  Center offers some excellent tools for making those decisions. But we make Advanced Directives decisions years away from when we are actually sick. If the patient can’t make the decisions, then the Advanced Directives offer useful guidelines.

In contrast, the POLST form deals with particulars — the patient’s current symptoms, current goals, up to date prognosis and available treatments. It offers a framework for extended discussion with a medical professional who can clearly lay out the alternatives.

Please try to take a look at the video series on NJ Goals of Care. Here’s hoping you won’t need them soon. But for later — you will know how to help a loved one get access to good information and make thoughtful decisions, decisions that bring the blessing of peace of mind.


Call Christie: Tuesday deadline to save lives


One of my grandsons has potentially fatal allergies. If  he accidentally eats one of the forbidden foods (soy, garlic, tree nuts, fish, many others) he must have a shot of epinephrine immediately — or …. .

If Governor Christie doesn’t sign the Epinephrine Access and Emergency Treatment Act, passed by the New Jersey legislature late last year, the bill will be considered vetoed. Noon on Tuesday, January 12 is the deadline. Please call Gov. Christie’s office at 609-292-6000 to urge him to sign this important legislation. It only takes a minute.

This act (bill numbers A 4094 and S 2884) would permit entities, such as youth camps, restaurants, daycare centers, sports leagues and scout troops, to stock undesignated epinephrine auto-injectors for use by trained individuals in the event of anaphylaxis.

New Jersey has already recognized the importance of making epinephrine and trained users available in K-12 schools and in colleges and universities. Other public settings where someone may come into contact with their allergens and experience anaphylaxis, maybe for the first time, should also be permitted to stock this life-saving medication for use by trained individuals. Autoinjectable epinephrine is a safe and easy to use medication that is the first line treatment for anaphylaxis.

You can read the text of this legislation here.

My grandson, age 11, is careful about what he eats and never goes anywhere (ANYwhere) without his epi-pen. But I worry about other children with less information or undiagnosed allergies. Why jeopardize lives that could be saved?

The information in this post came from FARE: Food Allergy Research and Education. 


Dorothy Mullen: Nutrition Non-Profit Pioneer

Changing your diet can turn your life around, says Dorothy Mullen, founder of the Suppers Program. She will speak at a January 10 breakfast at Princeton United Methodist Church on Sunday, January 10. “How You Feel is Data! An experiential workshop on brain health and food.” Enjoy a hot and tasty breakfast at 8 a.m., and the program starts at 8:30. A $5 donation is requested.

Mullen explains her vision here.  She founded the Suppers network of nearly free-to-users programs — where people cook, eat, and develop a palate for the kind of food that can often turn around chronic health problems. Suppers hosts 30 to 40 events per month and serves people with diabetes, autoimmune diseases and addictions as well as those who simply want to learn to prepare delicious fresh food from scratch. The program has no bias of its own about which whole food eating style is healthiest, and members are taught to do their own experiments to discern which way of eating benefits them the most.

Mullen has a master’s degree in addictions counseling from the College of New Jersey and uses addiction models to help people turn around entrenched eating behaviors that have placed them at risk for chronic disease. She is also a garden educator, having created garden based-education programs for the Princeton Public Schools for 13 years.

The Suppers program began at Mullen’s house and is spreading, she hopes, nationwide. “Live according to your intentions, not according to your impulses,” she says. She aims for Suppers to be, for those with food problems, like Alcoholics Anonymous is for drinkers.



Eric Newton: Cancer Survivor



Here is a link to my story in this week’s U.S. 1 Newspaper, on stands until Wednesday, December 16.  It’s about Eric Newton, pictured above with his daughter Jasmine. He had the same kind of cancer that my husband had — George’s was diagnosed early and he is fine now. And the same kind of cancer that my cousin had, but hers was not diagnosed early enough. Eric’s prognosis was grim until he entered a Phase II clinical trial of an immuno therapy drug similar to the one that has given Jimmy Carter a new lease on life. It’s an exciting development.

Three Techies for Thursday

“How come you can go on Kayak and book a flight while you’re talking to me on the phone? But if you have a stomach ache you can’t make an appointment with a doctor on your iPhone. You should be able to put ‘stomach ache’ into your iPhone and immediately get a Jefferson physician.”So said  Dr. Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University & Jefferson Health System. His ideas are right up my alley and I hope others will like them too. Click here for the U.S. 1 article. 

Klasko speaks at the Princeton Regional Chamber’s October Monthly Membership Luncheon at the Forrestal Marriott, 11:30 to 1:30, Topic:  What We Can Learn From Google, Facebook and Adidas: Reinventing Healthcare Is Not Impossible! .Click here for info or to register.

(I can’t go to this — if any readers can go and take notes I’d be happy to print them as a guest post on this blog).

In addition to the chamber’s unusual angle on technology on Thursday, Princeton University’s Entrepreneurs’ group has two more techie events on its Thursday calendar.

And you probably already knew about NJEN’s crowdfunding lunch on Wednesday, October 7. For the U.S. 1 article, click here. It’s OK to be a walk-in.


Perspectives from a Young Alumni Founder, Patrick Wendell ’11
Where: The Hub, 34 Chambers Street
When: Thursday, October 8th, 5:30 PM
This talk will feature Patrick Wendell, class of 2011. Two years after graduating from Princeton in Computer Science, Patrick co-founded Databricks, a company commercializing the Apache Spark software platform for large scale data processing. Databricks helps companies extract value from large amounts of data. Over the last two and a half years, Databricks has raised more than $40 million in venture funding from lead investors Andreessen Horowitz and NEA Ventures. The company employs more than 70 people at its San Francisco headquarters.

Tech Talk by Nest Labs  
WhenThursday, October 8th at 5:00 PM
Where: Lewis Library, Room 121
Who: Peter Grabowski ’13 (Data Integration), Rosie Buchanan (Algo)
Nest reinvents unloved but important home products, like the thermostat and the smoke alarm. The company produces programmable, sensor-driven, Wifi-enabled home devices. Acquired by Google (now Alphabet) in 2014, Nest has rapidly grown into a company with over 1000 employees, and is one of the leading companies in the Internet of Things (IoT) space.
In this talk, they’ll be covering a few different aspects, such as what it takes to bring a product to market, how the company uses data to influence their feature development, and also the technical challenges that the company has run into in the past few years. Pizza and drinks will be provided!