February 28, 2018 – The Orlando Sentinel

Lake Nona Institute is kicking off its sixth annual Impact Forum on Today, bringing together some of the nation’s top health-care leaders, executives and academics.

“We envisioned that there was something Lake Nona had to contribute to the country and the world around health innovation,” said Gloria Caufield, executive director of the institute. “We have this unique ecosystem of health and well-being. One of the ways for us to share that was to bring thought leaders to the table who could learn about what we’re doing in Central Florida and bring in timely productive discussions and see what ideas we can take out of the Impact Forum to implement in Lake Nona.”

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Leading into the final day of the 2017 Lake Nona Impact Forum, the unofficial theme was “convergence” as speaker after speaker discussed ways to bring technologies and people together, thinking exponentially about future health technology applications and gaining insights from those who set health policies at the highest levels.

Throughout the day attendees heard from an army of entrepreneurs working to solve issues of health system inefficiencies, developing next-generation drug therapies and enabling citizen scientists to unlock big data benefits by accessing our health and genomic data. Setting sights on big issues like access to care, achieving real-time, data-based preventative care solutions, and new technologies barely in the concept stage may make major disruptions seem far off, but when predicting the future, Ray Kurzweil told us, technological progressions often prove that big changes are right around the corner.


Called a “restless genius” and “rightful heir to Thomas Edison,” Kurzweil inspired by discussing technology’s predictable, exponential path.  With Moore’s Law and the law of accelerating returns promising rapid advances, the implications of which are already seen in our increasingly smaller and more advanced smart phones, the future of radically disruptive health is coming – in genomics, in inexpensive consumer 3D printing, in health-augmenting devices the size of blood cells – and likely sooner than you might think.  Imagination may be linear, Kurzweil says, but technology is exponential.


To close the day, an esteemed panel of four consecutive U.S. surgeons general provided insights into the impacts and controversies that emerge in public health leadership.  Dr. Antonia Novello, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Dr. David Satcher and Dr. Richard Carmona took part in an impassioned, enlightening and often humorous discussion on the duties of the office and their experiences with conflicts of policy, politics and good science.  When advocating for issues of controversy or crises in mental health, needle exchange, warning labels on tobacco products or the post 9-11 anthrax scare, Dr. Satcher argued that their most important job was “talking directly with the American people about their health and what they can do to improve it.”

The potential and opportunities discussed here at the 2017 Lake Nona Impact Forum inspire us all to look forward and not only imagine what is next but actively work towards it together.  “This is what our nation needs,” added Dr. Carmona.  “The reason I got involved was the power of possibility.”


The second day of the 2017 Lake Nona Impact Forum brought illuminating debates on healthcare from leaders who defined policy on the national stage to those battling epidemics and recurring issues in communities nationwide.

The morning session set the stage with a passionate dialog around the Affordable Care Act and the future of healthcare in America.  Opinions differed on the immediate prognosis and debates raged around structural changes to community care, the need to transform chronic care management, and the role of technology each step of the way. 

LNIF_GWIC-403  LNIF_GWIC-201Spirited and heartfelt discussions continued throughout the day focusing on improving health processes and general wellness, targeting the increasing epidemics of obesity and diabetes, embracing the “Silver Tsunami” of elder care, and showing compassion and understanding to those struggling with mental illness. In each case, common approaches included engaging individuals in their own healthcare, connecting care to the community, and making improvements in diet, exercise, and socialization that will add purpose and create lasting improvements on quality of life.

Arguing that connected health goes even deeper than “body and community” to “body and mind,” Deepak Chopra provided a roadmap to higher health that puts all aspects of mental, physical and emotional health as one unified activity:  consciousness.   Chopra’s panel inspired by creating communities with soul and purpose, and literally connected communities with the Humagram holographic technology that brought actress Michelle Rodriguez and Ninja Warrior Travis Brewer “live” to the stage from Los Angeles.  Together, even remotely, they demonstrated the ways that “the power of human connection allows us to do things we could not by ourselves.”


Finally, with sports at the heart of so many communities, the day’s closing Hall of Fame panel brought together golf’s all-time great Annika Sorenstam, Heisman Trophy Winner Charles Woodson, Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Johnson and acclaimed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews to discuss the future of youth sports.  With many inherently physical and increasingly year-round games threatened by potential injuries and burnout, Sorenstam reminded parents that, “fun is the most important thing a kid should have when they play a sport.”

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These discourses among often united, often disparate voices represent the spirit and convening nature of the Lake Nona Impact Forum where shared experiences, expertise and impassioned advocacy create paths for new ideas, partnerships and opportunities.



An international community of innovators came together under one roof today at the official start of the 2017 Lake Nona Impact Forum.  In its fifth year, the event has become the annual destination for more than 250 top CEOs, health care innovators and thought leaders, creating a community of cooperation centered here in Lake Nona, but connecting innovators around the world.


The event, presented by Johnson & Johnson and hosted tonight at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine presented approaches to creating community and wellness centers that build opportunities for innovation, many of which influenced the founding of the Impact Forum and Lake Nona Medical City.


Frans Johansson’s The Medici Effect connected these ideas seamlessly by presenting a concept that inspired a reimagining of Lake Nona Medical City and countless innovative centers worldwide.  Innovators challenge rules and defy expectations, Johansson said, and by creating new convening centers with a diverse group of innovators, new connections, opportunities and innovations will follow.  “The notion that diversity delivers innovation,” he said of the Lake Nona Impact Forum and the vision of the community itself, “is at the heart of what is happening here.”


Creating a community or a business committed to wellness also requires these connections, but also design, access and a consideration of the needs of those involved.  But those commitments pay dividends, whether in the “Live for Life” employee lifestyle investments Johnson & Johnson executive Peter Fasolo discussed or in creating wellness communities like Nerio Alessandri, founder of Technogym and the creator of the Romagna Wellness Valley.  Thinking holistically, whether an individual’s or community’s fitness has lasting and widely felt effects, Alessandri says, as the “wellness economy is the evolution of the green economy.”


Personal stories can also spark conversation, policy shifts and changes in personal behavior, as evidenced by the story of mental health activist and former Canadian First Lady, Margaret Trudeau.  Her personal experiences with struggle and loss not only brought to light the very real effects and long-running stigmas surrounding mental health issues, but offered an example of resilience and hope.


In closing his talk, Frans Johansson said, “if you’re able to create the Medici Effect you’re able to create connections. You can speed up innovations.”  And while new concepts and innovations will be discussed this week and perhaps tested here in Lake Nona’s living lab, it’s the connections made at the Lake Nona Impact Forum, with innovators meeting and forging new relationships, that will forge the next phase of health and technology innovations.

The 4th annual Lake Nona Impact Forum kicked off Wednesday night with more than 250 respected entrepreneurs, accomplished health care leaders and household names gathered together to discuss the future and health and wellness.  Day one served to establish themes and objectives of the week:  to unlock innovation and create advancements in wellness, health technology and sustainability.

The opening discussion between CNN’s Sanjay Gupta and Johnson & Johnson Group Worldwide Chairman Sandi Peterson, served as an early highlight.  Their conversation, “The Missing Link: A New Human-Centered Approach to Transforming Health and Wellbeing,” centered on collaboration and health care challenges on a global scale, along with how to get a better return on the vast investment currently made into an often fragmented health care system.  Peterson challenged tech innovators to better integrate health information, make individual information portable, improve efficiencies and empower (and maybe even nudge) consumers to take control of their health.

The evening concluded with a multi-keynote segment titled “The Health Transformers.”  The evening’s core themes ran through each talk, from the challenges of innovating in a reluctant industry to using data to drive both efficiencies and consumer empowerment, and, perhaps most importantly, encouraging and incentivizing individuals to take control of their health.

Perhaps the most insightful discussion came during the final panel between Eric Topol of Scripps Translational Science Institute and Dan Buettner, author of “The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People.”  Their “nature vs nurture” debate highlighted both the need for and opportunities around genomic research, and the undeniable link between one’s environment, access to health services and personal choices.  Genetics and health are intertwined, they agreed, but so too are health and happiness.

The event’s next two days will continue to build and expand upon these themes, adding new voices to the collaborative, transformative process at the Lake Nona Impact Forum.