Tech Tonics: David Van Sickle, Drummer… Digital Health Pioneer

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Tech Tonics has shared many stories of digital health pioneers who were passionate about health and computers from a young age, and fell effortlessly into a career at the interface of these interests.

David Van Sickle, on the other hand, was most passionate about drumming. When he graduated from University of California, Santa Barbara, David dove into the Bay Area music scene, taking work in an (otherwise) all female punk band, the Sisters of Confusion, while trying (with only limited success) to ignite his career as a jazz drummer.

While living in the East Bay, he audited a Berkeley course in anthropology, which ultimately led him to put his drumming ambitions on hold to pursue an anthropology PhD in Tucson, Arizona. In the course of this work, he studied the epidemiology of asthma in diverse populations, including Native American populations in New Mexico and Alaska, and also communities in India.

And this led to David’s first “professional” job at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC role led to an interest in improved approaches to asthma surveillance, a passion that, in turn, led to a Robert Wood Johnson Fellowship in Madison, Wisconsin and ultimately to his starting one of the first digital health companies, Asthmapolis. Asthmapolis was later renamed Propeller Health and is today lauded as one of the success stories on the digital health frontier. Politico recently profiled a fascinating community-based study enabled by the company in Louisville, Kentucky.

We are delighted to welcome David Van Sickle to our show.

Today’s episode is sponsored by DNAnexus, the secure and compliant cloud platform that enables enterprise users to analyze, collaborate around, and integrate massive amounts of genetic and other health data.


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