Mediaspora: Connecting Medicine, Media, and Diaspora

How can we ensure that health information for women and other underserved populations is safe, accessible, and reliable? Join us as we explore interactions between medicine, media, and diaspora.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
Pier 17, Suite 800, San Francisco, California 94111 United States


August 23, 2019 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)



When people seek out medical advice, where do they turn? For many of us, the first step is to go online, diagnosing symptoms through websites, such as Google or Wikipedia. This information can be unreliable in the best circumstance — but among underserved populations, language barriers may narrow access to reliable information even further. 

Technology such as AI, machine learning, and lightning-fast 5G internet services create enormous potential to expand access to digital health information and services. How can health experts, policymakers, and communicators ensure that medical information is accessible, reliable, and trusted among the most vulnerable members of society?

Join us for an event focused on how diasporic and underserved populations obtain medical and health information and what it means for the future of digital health.  

There will also be an Mediaspora Workshop in the afternoon, open to medical information and health communication professionals interested in this topic — register to apply.

This event, part of the SciComm Studio series, is presented in partnership with HESAV (School of Health Sciences) in Lausanne, the Board of the Higher Education (DGES) of the Canton de Vaud, and UC Berkeley’s Wallace Center.


6:00pm — doors open
6:30pm — presentations
7:30pm — q & a
8:00pm — networking
9:00pm — doors close


(Additional speakers TBA)

Larry Adelman was the long-time co-director and head of production for California Newsreel, among the nation’s oldest non-profit, documentary production and distribution centers. At Newsreel Adelman created and executive produced several nationally broadcast, multiple-award-winning documentary series and multi-media initiatives. The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of the Nation (2014) reframes the way Americans think about early child health and development. Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? (2008) illustrates how social conditions into which we are born and live shape our health and well-being even more than genetics or access to medical care. His breakthrough series Race – The Power of an Illusion (2003) was the first to expose the fallacy of race as innate biological difference but the reality of race as lived experience.

Amin Azzam completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Rochester, medical school at the Medical College of Virginia, and psychiatry residency at the University of California, San Francisco Department of Psychiatry, then earning a masters’ degree in education at the University of California, Berkeley. Beginning in 2013, Dr. Azzam created the world’s first elective course for medical students to receive academic credit for improving health-related information on Wikipedia. By the start of 2018, Wikipedia-editing assignments were integrated into formal educational settings in 10 health professional schools, including medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, physical therapy, and public health, located in the United States, Israel, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. By fall 2018, 713 health professional students across 20 courses had added 406,000 words to 255 health-related Wikipedia pages, which have been viewed 10.2 million times since students improved them.

Caroline Chautems is a medical anthropologist, specialized in the field of reproduction and birth. Her PhD research focused on breastfeeding practices and experiences in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and in particular on independent midwives’ follow-up during the perinatal period. She integrated the Mi-TIC team of HESAV in November 2018 as a research fellow. In the Mi-TIC study, Caroline focuses on the discrepancies between the representations of professionals regarding mothers’ ICT use and the actual ICT practices of immigrant (expectant) mothers.

Sylvia Guendelman is the Founder and Advisory Committee Chair of the Wallace Center for Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health (MCAH) at UC Berkeley, a multi-disciplinary research, action and training center focusing on harnessing innovation and technology to improve health. She is also a Professor of the Graduate Division and former Chair of the MCH Program (2000-2017) at the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on social and cultural factors influencing disparities in maternal health and health behaviors, birth outcomes and access to care of vulnerable populations. She has published extensively on access to care among immigrants and the working poor, the health of Latino immigrant women, children and families in the US and Mexico, maternity leave issues and the stress –birth outcomes relationship. Sylvia recently completed a study examining the dynamics that affect use and adoption of digital health among underserved pregnant women and mothers of young children. Currently she is investigating the volume and content of Google searches on contraception and abortion in the US And what these can tell us about consumer interests/concerns.

Christelle Kaech is a Swiss midwife and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) based in HESAV/HES-SO. During her Master thesis, Christelle explored the knowledge of Swiss midwives regarding gestational diabetes. As a young scholar, Christelle Kaech seeks to address original questions important for the health of all women and infants. In the Mi-TIC study, she explores the role of interpreters in the care of immigrant women and how interpreters use information and communication technologies in their day to day practice. In her PhD, Christelle will explore and compare breastmilk banking organizations and practices in Switzerland and Scotland, showing again her interest for women and babies in vulnerable situations.

Dr. Jin Lee is the CEO and founder of BabyNoggin, an app platform allowing parents to track for developmental delays at home and connect to clinicians and local resources for further follow-up. Dr. Lee was formerly a committee member for the American Heart Association and worked in the innovation and venture arms of Humana, 4th largest health insurance company, and Providence St. Joseph Health, 3rd largest nonprofit hospital system. She’s a mentor for multiple health accelerator programs and startups.  Dr. Lee previously taught developmental psychology, biology, and neuroscience in high schools and colleges. Dr. Lee has been featured on numerous healthcare blogs and has been a featured speaker at multiple events such as the TEDxPeacePlaza, Sirius XM radio, SXSW, American Academy of Pediatrics, Aspen Institute Children’s Forum, and National Early Head Start. She received her Ph.D in Developmental & Child Psychology from the University of Oxford and received her BAs in Neuroscience and Biology from the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a Thouron scholar.

Patricia PerrenoudPatricia Perrenoud is a Swiss medical anthropologist and associate professor in the midwifery school of HESAV (School of Health Sciences) in Lausanne, part of the larger University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland (HES-SO). Since she was a young midwife, Patricia has been dedicated to fostering equitable access to adequate care for all, and particularly for immigrant women and infants. Her current anthropological study “Mi-TIC,” founded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, explores the uses of information and communication technologies (ICT) by immigrant (expectant) mothers in French-speaking Switzerland in collaboration with Caroline Chautems and Christelle Kaech. In her research, Patricia Perrenoud seeks to collaborate with institutions dedicated to the care of immigrant women, such as PanMilar in Lausanne, the midwives’ Arcade in Geneva, or Camarada in Geneva. The “Mi-TIC” study examines the diversity of ICT practices of (expectant) immigrant mothers and reveal these mothers’ preferred tools to gather information about their pregnancy, birth, or the care of their infant.

SciComm Studio

The SciComm Studio is swissnex San Francisco’s meetup for lovers of science seeking a community to experiment, explore, and connect around science communication and public engagement. Hosted at swissnex San Francisco at Pier 17, these meetups create a space for our community to cultivate science communication skills. We inspire and challenge participants excited by science to share their knowledge through storytelling and interactivity. It’s a win-win: exchange knowledge while developing your own toolkit for scientific outreach.

The Pier 17 Science Studio has support from the Exploratorium, Bay Area Science Festival, TED speakers, museum professionals and art-technology curators. The Science Studio “SciComm Studio” events take science communication out of the box and into the streets. If you find yourself involved in any area of scicomm, or if you are interested in being a part of the movement, join us for our next event!