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At the Carolina Theatre last Saturday, 21 speakers unleashed captivating ideas, stories and missions meant to solve problems in each of their domains.

But there was a common thread at the inaugural TEDxDurham—a collective appreciation for Durham and a dedication towards advancing the city and its people. The event also carried a salute to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which has dominated national conversation after a week of heightened racial tension.
Though most speakers didn’t represent “entrepreneurship/startups” in a traditional sense, each is an innovator. And all of their talks centered around social missions, which compliments Durham’s growing emphasis on social entrepreneurship.

A few presenters shared how they are using technology to solve medical and health-related problems both for individuals and communities.

There’s Jess Jurr, a professor from NC State’s College of Textiles who leads the research group Nano-EXtended Textiles, which meshes wearable technology with fabrics. With him on stage was NC State graduate Jazsalyn McNeil wearing a dress she designed. The gown was adorned with LED lights that flickered with the detection of her heartbeat. Jurr’s goal is to develop and bring to market stylish, wearable technology like the dress, that can be used to track heartbeat patterns over time. It’s a new method toward preventative health care.
Nirmish Shah is also focused on medical/health intervention. Through his role as director of Duke’s sickle cell transition program, he noticed the need for patients to regularly manage their symptoms and medications without having to make back-and-forth trips to the doctor.
He has two apps under the name Sickle cell Mobile Application to Record symptoms via Technology, or SMARTA. One educates patients about their illness and helps them manage their home medication regimen through a fun incentive—sending their doctors video selfies taking their medication as prescribed. The other app keeps a log of patients’ symptoms and stressors to predict future pain in the same way that weather apps predict precipitation.
Another social innovator focused on health is Allison Matthews, a Doctor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who is crowdsourcing a cure for HIV online with a project called 2BeatHIV. A series of social media campaigns and creative content contests help build awareness about HIV testing, which Matthews hopes will give researchers a better understanding of how patients are affected by the disease.

Read more here: http://www.exitevent.com/article/TEDxDurham-speakers-unite-around-social-innovation-and-black-lives-matter-160712

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