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Quantified Self Public Health: Stephen Downs on Building a Culture of Health

[Editor's Note] This May we hosted our second Quantified Self Public Health Symposium in San Diego at the University of California, San Diego. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation we brought together 150 researchers, toolmakers, individuals from government institutes, and science leadership. During the meeting we had multiple conversations, talks, and show&tells that helped guide our QS Access mission – to understand and improve personal data access for person and public health. Today we’re excited to start posting videos from that meeting. If you’re inspired by what you see here and want to help us raise the conversation surrounding personal data access we invite you to get in touch and follow along on Medium and here on the QS website. 

Stephen Downs, Chief Technology and Information Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation looks forward to the day when healthy choices are easy choices. That day may not be tomorrow, but identifying the early adopters, innovative thinkers, and technological disruptors are at the forefront of moving us one step closer to that healthier world. For Stephen and the Foundation, building a culture of health includes “engaging sectors that are not nominally about health.” In his presentation to the Quantified Self Public Health Symposium, Stephen shares how groups within education, community development, technology, and more have a key role to play in improving the state of our health, and health care.

This post is part of our Access Matters publication. We invite you to share your data access stories, and this article with the #qsaccess hashtag and follow along on @quantifiedself.



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Announcing the QS Access Program


Self-knowledge through numbers. Personal meaning from personal data. These are the guiding principles of the work we do here at Quantified Self Labs. Through our editorial work, our events, and our support of a worldwide network of meetups we are focused on shaping the culture of personal data and it’s impact on our lives. We realized some time ago that impact is determined not only by data analysis skills, scientific training, or even the use of new tools and technologies (although all of these play an important role). Rather, impact is directly related to our ability to access the data we’re creating and collecting during the course of our lives.

We’re happy to announce our new QS Access Program with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We’re working together to bring issues, ideas, and insights related to personal data access for personal and public health to the forefront of this evolving conversation. We hope you join us.

You can read the full release here. Below are two quotes from the release that embody our current and future work.

“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is working with many partners to build a Culture of Health in the U.S., and in that culture of health, people are attuned to the factors that influence their health and the health of their communities,” said Stephen Downs, Chief Information and Technology Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The explosion of data on day-to-day life creates tremendous potential for new insights about health at both the personal and population levels. To realize this potential, people need access to their data — so they can use services that surface the connections between symptoms, behaviors and community environments and so they can choose to contribute their data to important research efforts.”

“We believe that when individuals, families, and communities are able to ask their own questions of their own data, everybody benefits,” said Gary Wolf, Director of QS Labs. “We look forward to doing our part to build a culture of health with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and we invite anybody who has an access story to tell to get in touch.”

If you’d like to learn more or get involved. Please contact:
Ernesto Ramirez
Program Director
Quantified Self Labs

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