Warren Buffett PBS NewsHour interview

Tuesday, 27 June, 2017

June 26, 2017 America should stand for more than just wealth, says Warren Buffett

PBS, June 26, 2017, Here is Warren Buffett’s first tax return, filed at age 14

Warren Buffett says GOP health reform bills are relief for the rich


Focused Ultrasound Thalamotomy will ‘revolutionize’ treatment of brain diseases

Wednesday, 24 August, 2016
20160824 Dr. Michael Schwartz and Dr. Nir Lipsman

20160824 Dr. Michael Schwartz and Dr. Nir Lipsman

CBC News had a great Facebook LIVE Q&A session with neurosurgeons Dr. Michael Schwartz and Dr. Nir Lipsman from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. And a great news report (with video)  “No scalpel, no drill: Medical procedure to treat uncontrollable hand tremor a ‘game changer’“. Here is an excerpt,

“The technology “will open up a new era that will revolutionize the way brain diseases will be treated, eventually benefitting millions of patients,” says Dr. Kullervo Hynynen, director of physical sciences at Sunnybrook Research Institute. He also helped develop the technology. […]

Doctors hope to apply the technology in the treatment of other diseases like Parkinson’s and epilepsy.”

(Note: In the LIVE Q&A you can hear neurosurgeon Dr. Nir Lipsman talk about Parkinson’s disease and this new procedure at timecode 3:03.)

Here is a video “Neurosurgery – with sub-titles, ending with MR image” with subtitle text.

Reference: New England Journal of Medicine, August 25, 2016 “A Randomized Trial of Focused Ultrasound Thalamotomy for Essential Tremor” (PDF file)

P.S. On a personal note, it may be way too early to speculate but I do wonder how far can the procedure go (its first pilot study published in 2013 as reported in NEJM), I do wonder openly/hopefully if one day it could be used to help patients with glioblastoma like my friend Maria’s husband Sean had unfortunately suffered. Well, after a quick search, I managed to find this 2014 study reported in NIH, “First noninvasive thermal ablation of a brain tumor with MR-guided focused ultrasound


Mending Broken Paris Hearts – Meet the Man with No Pulse

Monday, 16 November, 2015
Total Artificial Heart (video screen capture sample) Photo credit: SynCardia Systems

Total Artificial Heart (video screen capture sample) Photo credit: SynCardia Systems

I wrote a lengthy post (partly to try to mend our broken Paris hearts metaphorically) after a Google Hangout with my super cool and magical Paris friend Laurent  on the Saturday morning post-Paris Attacks. With Laurent‘s permission and help in providing some photos, this is a medical and technical post about why he is “magical” to me. And how a heart can be “mended” literally.

You see, Laurent had a major heart incident in June 2014 so he had to be implanted with a temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH info from US nih.gov) 17 months ago! He is literally being kept alive by the magic of a cutting edge TAH as he awaits a new heart. (I included the above sample picture. It may not be the exact model inside Laurent but it is a good picture and will give you some idea.) Note that a temporary TAH is approved for “bridge to heart transplantation” and is NOT supposed to be a “destination therapy“.

(Important Disclosure/Warning: I am not a medical doctor or researcher. I do not work for and am not related to SynCardia Systems nor Stanford University. Please always consult your own heart doctors and healthcare professionals for their expert advices. I am not an expert of artificial heart devices, and I don’t even play a doctor like House M.D on TV!)

After you read the above Important Disclosure/Warning, I want to say, as a tech-geek, I really enjoy my chat with Laurent and appreciate the photos and links he provided. Laurent’s and my hope is that this post may be of some use to some people waiting for their heart transplants or in similar predicament. Of course, at the end of the day, all errors and mistakes in this post are mine. And consult your own heart doctors and healthcare professionals for their expert advices!

The following is a picture of Laurent’s SynCardia Systems Companion 2 Hospital Driver (C2 Driver) docked with a companion Caddy (pdf fact sheet and 2013 PR press release).

One of the machines that is keeps my Paris friend Laurent alive.

One of the machines that is keeps my Paris friend Laurent alive. The other is his total artificial heart (TAH). Photo credit: Laurent

The C2 Driver‘s pushes air in and out of the two artificial ventricles of Laurent’s total artificial heart (TAH) implant. A side “benefit” of a total artificial heart is Laurent has no pulse which means a flat electrocardiogram if he does one.

With permission, here is a photo of two tubes going in.

Two tubes connected to the total artificial heart (TAH). Photo credit: Laurent

Two tubes connected to the total artificial heart (TAH). Photo credit: Laurent

And here is a photo of an emergency standby machine, Read the rest of this entry »


Ignorant talk of “Boys using girls bathroom” illuminated by BBC doc “Me, My Sex and I”

Thursday, 28 February, 2013

Me My Sex And I - 2011 BBC doc

Two news items have been hotly discussed online recently:

New Massachusetts rules allow transgender students to choose their own bathroom“, Yahoo News (The Daily Caller), Feb 25, 2013

His or Hers? Transgender child locked in school bathroom debate“, CTV News, Feb 28, 2013

So I thought to spend a few minutes to look up an insightful documentary I watched in 2011 to try to illuminate the important issue that there are NO 100% male or 100% female. I am NOT 100% male. The real scientific reasoning is complex but not that difficult to understand. The human stories and the human impact take more compassion to appreciate and accept.

Here is the insightful BBC documentary “Me, My Sex and I” last broadcast on Oct, 2011. Someone posted the https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87XvVdLaWT8 that you can watch (video is flipped but you can still get most of the important points).

NOTE: I moderate comments on this post, any comments that appear to be made without watching the documentary or understanding the issues first will be deleted.

Update 2015, Aug 5th: If this link doesn’t work (deleted as per BBC/others request), just search for the documentary title in YouTube and you may find it.

Me, My Sex and I


Interview with Dr. Naweed Syed, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Neurochip co-lead researcher

Friday, 17 August, 2012

Interview with Dr. Naweed Syed, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Neurochip co-lead researcher

Earlier this month I had a fascinating interview with Dr. Naweed Syed, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, head of University of Calgary Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy. Dr. Syed is one of the lead researchers behind neurochip − “a microchip with the ability to monitor several functions of the brain.Neurochip is “a novel lab-on-a-chip technology that, through an ultra-sensitive component built directly on the microchip, also enables direct imaging of activity in brain cells.”

In one fascinating part of the interview, Dr. Syed talked about Parkinson’s patients who have really bad tremors and don’t respond to drugs anymore. Currently, surgeons insert a deep brain stimulation electrode to allow the patients to stimulate the electrode themselves which release dopamine to stop the tremors. Unfortunately, the electrode can continue to stimulate the brain cells beyond the limit. Resulting in what is known as excitotoxicity. (Too much dopamine constantly being produced and brain cells being over excited.) In essence, nobody is there to tell the electrode when the stimulation is enough and can be stopped to avoid damage because there is no loop going back to tell it. Dr. Syed suggests implanting a two-way link where machines (capacitors and transistors) and the brain cells can talk to each other to better control the stimulation loop and avoid/reduce the problem of excitotoxicity.

Have a watch of my extensive interview with Dr. Syed to hear of his explanations and the background info in his own words for the latest advancement in research in neurochip.

As an alumnus of University of Calgary, it makes me really proud to see cool research done in Calgary, Alberta. At the same time, near the end of the interview, I asked Dr. Syed about the challenges of getting the required funding for the research program to succeed and to keep doing cutting edge researches right here in Calgary. Given the achievements his team has made so far, I would hate to see any of these world class scientists leaving Canada to go to United States/China, etc because our three level of governments and private industry partners are not putting in the needed funding to keep doing these ground-breaking researches that can lead to better medical devices, better drugs, etc right in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

On a personal note, a very close friend has Parkinson’s and I hope the device Dr. Syed talked about can be developed, tested, and approved soon so that my friend and other Parkinson’s patients can benefit.

News references:

University of Calgary, UToday “New advances for neurochip

CTV News (with video), “U of C researchers achieve major milestone

Calgary Herald, “New microchip helps take detailed images of brain – University of Calgary researchers achieve new milestone


Doctor and medical student interrupt Minister Joe Oliver at press conference

Monday, 25 June, 2012

Chris Keefer - Doctor and medical student interrupt Minister Joe Oliver at press conference - pix 01

Faria Kamal - Doctor and medical student interrupt Minister Joe Oliver at press conference - pix 02

My personal thanks to the doctor and medical student who spoke up on our behalf. Shame on our Canadian government. Shame on us Canadians that we are not more aware of this problem. Canadians are BETTER than the actions of our current government in power!

According to the YouTube clip info, the names of the doctor and medical student speaking up are Chris Keefer and Faria Kamal respectively. I applaud Chris and Faria’s brave protest, risking retribution from the Harper government and their hospital administration.

Shame on Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Doctor and medical student interrupt Minister Joe Oliver at press conference

See CBC News, “Refugee health cuts protest cuts off Oliver announcement

TorStar, “A new low for refugees in Canada

The issue (a website) as posted in the YouTube clip info.

Chris Keefer & Faria Kamal - Doctor and medical student interrupt Minister Joe Oliver at press conference - pix 03


Robbie Babins-Wagner, Calgary Counselling centre, interview at 2012 Brett Wilson’s Garden Party

Friday, 22 June, 2012

It was my pleasure to meet & interview Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner PhD, CEO of Calgary Counselling centre at 2012 Brett Wilson’s Garden Party. Here is the interview video.

Note: This year’s charitable focus is Eating Disorders – “the slowest form of suicide” and “over 300K (net) was raised for #EatingDisorders – prevention/treatment”. And Calgary Counselling centre is one of Brett’s selected charities for the 2012 Garden Party.


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