Here’s something you don’t see often (and probably for good reason): Francis Collins singing.
The rock star of the National Institutes of Health brought a guitar to the stage to kick off the first full day of TEDMED in Washington, D.C. He and singer Jill Sobule belted out a pretty well-sung and definitely entertaining tune about the power of disease called “Disease Don’t Care.” Some of my favorite lines (you can see some of the song here).
Disease don’t care about your life’s pursuits, you could wear a hoodie or a three-piece suit.
So it’s pretty clear we’re all at risk, for cancer and stroke and a ruptured disc.
Disease don’t care if your Party is Tea.
It isn’t totally foreign for Collins to pick up the guitar (he did it at a University of Michigan commencement, for example). The guitar wasn’t Collin’s only visual aide at TEDMED. The primary message of his talk was to promote the NIH’s efforts to get Big Pharma to take their old drugs “out of the freezer” and see if they can’t be used to treat many of the 4,000 diseases for which science now has a molecular basis. To drive home the stakes, he brought out a 15-year-old boy suffering from Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, a genetic mutation that rapidly ages children.
Of those 4,000 diseases with a known molecular basis, we current have cures for about 200, Collins said.