We Do Things Differently | Mark Stevenson

Summary of: We Do Things Differently: The Outsiders Rebooting Our World
By: Mark Stevenson

Introduction

Embark on a journey through ‘We Do Things Differently: The Outsiders Rebooting Our World’ by Mark Stevenson, a book that showcases the groundbreaking work of innovators and their unconventional solutions to real-world issues. In this book, we delve into the intricacies of various fields including healthcare, agriculture, energy, and education. You will discover how powerful figures such as Jamie Heywood, Samir Brahmachari, and Peter Dearman use their ingenuity to challenge conventional wisdom and bring about positive changes. Prepare to be inspired by their tenacious spirit and the practical approaches they use to address complex challenges.

Practical Fixers

Innovative people who identify dysfunctional systems in various fields such as food, energy, healthcare, education, and politics are crucial to implement practical solutions. The book states that these individuals are not merely dreamers but dedicated optimists who take action now, instead of waiting for the future. By challenging the idea that established ways of doing things are the only solutions, innovators offer a refreshing perspective. In conclusion, the world needs these determined, future-shaping activists to tackle current and impending problems.

A Maverick Scientist’s Fight Against ALS

Jamie Heywood’s younger brother was diagnosed with ALS, and rather than wait for drug approvals, he founded the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) to test already-approved drugs that might work as “off label” ALS treatments. The institute tests included a promising lead on Celebrex, which proved fruitless. As Jamie’s resolve to fix the drug-research system held firm after Stephen died in 2006, he and his brother, along with their friend, launched PatientsLikeMe. It’s a website that empowers people with various conditions to log their symptoms and treatments in a structured way that makes their data comparable. The website enables sufferers to find and befriend others with similar ailments and join systematic off-label drug trials. This system has benefitted patients, and participation improves outcomes. The book highlights how Jamie’s passionate resolve changes the drug-research system and provides an innovative solution to the biases and conflicts of interest fueling the problem. It also presents how the PatientsLikeMe platform was launched, which enables patients to be involved in medical research.

Participatory Medicine and Open Source Drug Discovery

Dave DeBronkart and Samir Brahmachari share how empowering patients and using open-source methods could revolutionize healthcare.

Dave DeBronkart’s journey to establishing the Society for Participatory Medicine began with a cancer scare. He discovered the long-shot drug Interleukin through an online cancer community, demonstrating the power of patients having access to information and being active participants in their healthcare. Similarly, Samir Brahmachari sought to address the lack of drug development for tuberculosis (TB), which primarily affects poor people who cannot afford the high costs of research and development. Brahmachari’s Open Source Drug Discovery initiative provides an alternative to traditional drug development, using crowdsourced gene-sequence annotators and an in silico computer simulation model of a TB bacterium. The project hopes to reduce the 5,000:1 failure-to-success ratio to 100:1. The Open Source Malaria project employs similar techniques.

Both DeBronkart and Brahmachari are passionate about challenging the status quo and embracing alternative, collaborative approaches in healthcare. They believe that the democratization of information and open-source methods could revolutionize medicine, enabling patients to be active participants in their own healthcare rather than passive recipients of standardized treatments. By empowering patients and leveraging the power of the crowd, they hope to promote more effective, affordable, and accessible healthcare for all.

Sustainable Farming Revolution

Agricultural rural development agency, KGVK, in India is advocating for the System of Rice or Root Intensification (SRI) farming method. SRI is a controversial approach that can produce high crop yields using plant spacing, weeding, and rainwater without chemicals or GMOs. Supporters claim that SRI can provide “three or four times” more rice yields than the traditional method. The Green Revolution, promoted by Nobel Peace Prize-winner Norman Borlaug, relied on high-yield methods that involved fertilizers, pesticides, weed-killers, and intensive irrigation, which depleted natural resources. While the International Rice Research Institute has dismissed these claims, scientists like Erika Styger and Gaoussou Traore find strong evidence that supports agroecological methods like SRI as a sustainable farming alternative.

The Dearman Engine: A Solution to Food Waste and Energy Grid Challenges

The Dearman Engine, invented by Peter Dearman in 2000, is a world-changing engine that runs clean and cold on liquid air. Unlike fossil fuel engines, it produces no pollution and can solve significant global problems. One of its main uses is to mitigate food waste, as it can provide cheap refrigeration in areas that lack cold chains. Furthermore, the engine can also solve energy grid challenges by providing instant clean power during periods of high demand. With the possibility of producing fuel in solar-powered, air-liquefying factories, the Dearman Engine can form a part of the solution for a sustainable and climate-friendly energy system.

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