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Brainstorm Health: Drones and Vaccines, AI for Diabetes, Vitamin D Study

Happy Friday, readers. This is Sy.

It seems to be a bit of a light day for health care news as the nation remains transfixed with high Capitol Hill drama over the Supreme Court. But I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a fascinating conversation I recently had with Dr. Seth Berkley, the CEO of public-private vaccine partnership Gavi.

Beyond its intriguing business model, Gavi is also an enthusiastic proponent of newfangled technologies in the fight against infectious disease. For instance, Berkley spoke with me at length about the potential for drones, through its partnership with firms like Zipline, to get medications to hard-to-reach regions in developing nations. The benefits are obvious and scaleable: Rather than train health workers and deploy them across a nation, local workers can be trained on the spot and the resources they need can be sent to them remotely. (As Berkley notes, a bigger challenge will be using such technology in areas with more conflict and where the drones may, well, not make it to where they need to be.)

Technology’s role in this global health quest expands well beyond delivery services, though. Fundamental issues like keeping track of children’s medical records and very identities may be addressed via biometrics; sophisticated, IOT-enabled sensors placed on fridges can be used to record temperature fluctuations to help preserve precious resources like the Ebola vaccine, which are highly heat-sensitive.

I’ll have more on my conversation with Berkley and Gavi in the coming days. In the meantime, read on for the day’s news and have a wonderful weekend.

Sy Mukherjee
@the_sy_guy
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

DIGITAL HEALTH

IBM Watson, Medtronic to discuss AI’s role in diabetes care. IBM Watson Health and med tech giant Medtronic will unveil more details about artificial intelligence’s potential to help diabetes patient at the upcoming MANOVA Global Summit on the Future of Health, the companies announced Friday. The chat will center around the two companies’ collaboration on Sugar.IQ, an app that aims to use AI and machine learning to help diabetes patients make choices about their diets, insulin doses, and daily routines. As we’ve mentioned before, diabetes appears to be a chronic disease space ripe for digitally-fueled disruption.

THE BIG PICTURE

Do Vitamin D supplements actually work? A new study adds to the parade of evidence questioning the efficacy of dietary supplements. The victim, this time, is Vitamin D. Use of the supplements did not improve bone mineral density or significantly prevent fractures in adults who take them, according to the large study analyzing data from 81 randomized control trials involving more than 53,000 people. On the flip side, that result was for most regular people; those with specific deficiencies could benefit from the supplements, for instance by helping them avoid certain rare conditions. (CNN)

REQUIRED READING

Brett Kavanaugh, Privilege, and Our Healthby Sandro Galea

GM Named World’s Top Company for Gender Equalityby Emily Price

Here’s How Men Can Be Leaders in Improving Corporate Diversityby Grace Donnelly

How Do I Make My Resume Stand Out in 2018? by Anne Fisher

Produced by Sy Mukherjee
@the_sy_guy
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

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