Google’s happiness expert speaks to students

first_imgUSC Spectrum hosted Chade-Meng Tan, Google’s Jolly Good Fellow, at Bovard Auditorium as a kickoff event for Mindful USC, a new university-wide initiative that was launched this fall to make mindfulness practices integral to the culture of the Trojan Family.Jolly good fellow · Chade-Meng Tan speaks to students in Bovard Auditorium on Wednesday night about the importance of happiness. – Mariya Dondonyan | Daily TrojanThe event started with Tan presenting the tenets of his New York Times best-selling book, Search Inside Yourself, followed by a Q&A with the audience. The attendees were then invited to a reception that included a book sale and book signing.Tan joined Google as a software engineer in 2000 and helped build Google’s first mobile search service. He later became a founding member of a team that evaluated search quality.Tan began his presentation by highlighting what he currently works on at Google.“My job description is exactly seven words: ‘Enlighten minds, open hearts, create world peace,’” he said. “I mainly work on two things. The first thing is that I’m trying to scale inner peace, inner joy and compassion worldwide. The second effort I’m involved with is called ‘one billion acts of peace.’ We are working with 13 Nobel Peace Prize laureates to try to inspire one billion peace acts worldwide in five years.”Varun Soni, the dean of Religious Life and co-chair of the Mindful USC initiative, said he hopes that students will be able to develop mindfulness practices of their own to help with the stress of their lives and also to help them think creatively and compassionately.“I hope it’ll help them think about the big question in their lives, of meaning and purpose,” he said. “There are a lot of challenges being a student in this day and age. Challenges that no generation has ever faced, especially in terms of technology and the job market. It can be overwhelming, and it could feel like we’re drinking from a fire hose, so I believe that mindfulness can be a useful exercise in helping us deal with all the stress and anxiety that we have in our lives and our work.”Soni described Tan as a man of many abilities.“He is a great mindfulness leader of the world but he is also a software engineer,” Soni said. “There are people who are writers, actors and athletes who also talk about mindfulness from their own professional perspectives.”Tan said he moved away from software engineering in 2008 and is now working on thinking of innovative solutions to solve the world’s most impossible problems.“What I hope to inspire USC students today is something I think you all have already known,” he said. “I hope to reinforce the idea that emotional intelligence, and specifically goodness, is highly trainable.”Students felt that Tan’s speech was applicable to their lives.“I love his humor and energy,” said Daniel Luo, a junior majoring in occupational therapy. “It’s really awesome to see someone who’s so passionate about what he is doing and having so much fun while he’s doing it. His presentation was so clear-cut and simple that it provided a lot of real life usefulness for everyone there.”Tan wrote his book in 14 weeks based on notes he had collected while at Google.Soni said the book was integral to the foundation for the Mindful USC initiative.“What Search Inside Yourself does is that it translates this ancient wisdom of happiness and mindfulness into a contemporary context, to a language that’s digestible for everyone. And, it’s no longer an esoteric tradition,” Soni said.Students also found Tan’s advice on maintaining positive relationships to be helpful.“I just heard about it online and thought it would be really interesting to come hear the Chief Happiness Officer of Google talk,” said Brandon Metzger, an undecided sophomore. “It has been really interesting and I really enjoyed it. I really liked his whole outlook on fostering relationships with others.”Soni hoped the event would encourage student interest in the mindfulness initiative.“[Students] could drop in at the meditating sessions on campus and my hope is that they’ll find it to be a positive and an important resource for them while they’re students here, and perhaps give them something to take with them when they leave,” Soni said.last_img read more

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Diabetes advance reported in Brazil

first_imgLarger, more rigorous studies are needed to determine whether stem cell transplants could become standard treatment for people with the disease once called juvenile diabetes. It is less common than Type 2 diabetes, which is associated with obesity. The hazards of stem cell transplantation also raise questions about whether the study should have included children. One patient was as young as 14. Dr. Lainie Ross, a medical ethicist at the University of Chicago, said the researchers should have studied adults first before exposing young teens to the potential harms of stem cell transplant, which include infertility and late-onset cancers. In addition, Ross said the study should have had a comparison group to make sure the treatment was indeed better than standard diabetes care. Burt, who wrote the study protocol, said the research was done in Brazil because U.S. doctors were not interested in the approach. The study was approved by ethics committees in Brazil, he said, adding that he personally believes it was appropriate to do the research in children as well as adults, as long as the Brazilian ethics panels approved. On the threshold Burt and other diabetes experts called the results an important step forward. “It’s the threshold of a very promising time for the field,” said Dr. Jay Skyler of the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami. Skyler wrote an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which published the study, saying the results are likely to stimulate research that could lead to methods of preventing or reversing Type I diabetes. “These are exciting results. They look impressive,” said Dr. Gordon Weir of Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. Still, Weir cautioned that more studies are needed to make sure the treatment works and is safe. “It’s really too early to suggest to people that this is a cure,” he said. The patients involved were ages 14 to 31 and newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. An estimated 12 million to 24 million people worldwide – including 1 million to 2 million in the United States – have this form of diabetes, which is typically diagnosed in children or young adults. An autoimmune disease, it occurs when the body attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin is needed to regulate blood sugar levels, which when too high, can lead to heart disease, blindness, nerve problems and kidney damage. Burt said the stem cell transplant is designed to stop the body’s immune attack on the pancreas. A study published last year described a different kind of experimental transplant, using pancreas cells from donated cadavers, that enabled a few diabetics to give up insulin shots. But that requires lifelong use of anti-rejection medicine, which isn’t needed by the Brazilian patients since the stem cells were their own. The 15 diabetics were treated at a bone marrow center at the University of S o Paulo. All were newly diagnosed, before their insulin-producing cells had been destroyed. The procedure That timing is key, Burt said. “If you wait too long,” he said, “you’ve exceeded the body’s ability to repair itself.” The procedure involves stimulating the body to produce new stem cells and harvesting them from the patient’s blood. Next comes several days of high-dose chemotherapy, which virtually shuts down the patient’s immune system and stops destruction of the few remaining insulin-producing cells in the body. This requires hospitalization and potent drugs to fend off infection. The harvested stem cells, when injected back into the body, build a new healthier immune system that does not attack the insulin-making cells. Patients were hospitalized for about three weeks. Many had side effects including nausea, vomiting and hair loss. One developed pneumonia, the only severe complication. Doctors changed the drug regimen after the treatment failed in the first patient, who ended up needing more insulin than before the study. Another patient also relapsed. The remaining 13 “live a normal life without taking insulin,” said study co-author Dr. Julio Voltarelli of the University of S o Paulo. “They all went back to their lives.” The patients enrolled in the study at different times so the length of time they’ve been insulin-free also differs. Burt has had some success using the same procedure in 170 patients with other autoimmune diseases, including lupus and multiple sclerosis; one patient with an autoimmune form of blindness can now see, Burt said. “The body has tremendous potential to repair,” he said. The study was partly funded by the Brazilian Ministry of Health, Genzyme Corp. and a maker of blood sugar monitoring products.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! CHICAGO – Could their own stem cells allow people with Type 1 diabetes to live without daily insulin shots? A small but promising experiment in Brazil suggests the answer someday might be yes. In a medical first, 15 young people with newly diagnosed diabetes had stem cell transplants from their own blood. Thirteen of them were able to give up insulin and have been successful for periods ranging from six months to three years. They are being followed to see whether the results are long-lasting. While the procedure is risky and potentially life-threatening, none of the patients died or suffered lasting side effects. “It’s the first time in the history of Type 1 diabetes where people have gone with no treatment whatsoever … no medications at all, with normal blood sugars,” said study co-author Dr. Richard Burt of Northwestern University’s medical school in Chicago. last_img read more

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