Dr. Sanjay Gupta may just have something that helps relieve the growing swell of politicized medical information.
The CNN chief medical correspondent has joined forces with Marc Hodosh, a technology entrepreneur to launch Life Itself, a new three-day conference the duo hope will generate attention for a lot of health and wellness issues they feel could take up more of the national conversation. CNN is a partner with the event and expects to show many of its sessions via its digital platforms, says Allie Kleva, CNN’s vice president of strategic partnerships and marketing. The conference is slated to take place in San Diego from September 28 to October 1.
“There is going to be a lot of real news that comes out of this,” says Gupta, in an interview. “We think there will probably be a lot of findings and revelations that are going to be newsworthy. You have health care that is changing right underneath our feet.”
Executives from the worlds of medicine, academia, technology, and entertainment will participate. Among those expected to attend are Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Norman Lear, the TV producer; Art Levinson, the chairman of Apple; Penn Jillette, the entertainer; Stephane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna; and Brian Grazer, founder of Imagine Entertainment.
Hodosh co-created TEDMED, a health-themed counterpart to the popular TED conferences. He says he and Gupta see Life Itself “less as a business and more of a gathering that could have real impact, and thought for change in a lot of areas that are important to talk about.” Gupta and Hodosh have been working on the concept for several years, and hoped for Life Itself to debut last year. Due to the pandemic, it had to be postponed.
As the nation emerges from the effects of the coronavirus on society, interest in medical and health innovation is likely to be at a peak. Gupta acknowledges that health information “can be tough to disentangle” from politics but believes there will be a lot of power in a conference that attracts dozens of experts, some talking for the first time in public about work they have been doing, who can then continue conversations on the sidelines. “It’s a true gathering of thought leaders who will be staying in touch and collaborating after it’s over,” he says.
CNN has no plans at present to live-stream sessions, says Kleva, the network executive, but is likely to make available various presentations on its digital venues on the same day they occur.
Gupta isn’t the only TV-news correspondent to test the concept of building a venture related to his area of expertise. At ABC News, anchor Dan B. Harris gave up duties at “Nightline” in order to focus more intently on a content business that focuses on meditation. At MSNBC. Mika Brzezinski has led a series of conferences aimed at helping women understand their worth in the corporate arena ,and she has teamed up with NBC News as part of that effort.
Above, pictured: Sanjay Gupta and Marc Hodosh