Dr. Damania Speaking at TEDMED 2013
|Born||New Jersey, United States|
|Residence||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Education||UC Berkeley (1994)
UCSF Medical School (1999) MD
|Occupation||hospitalist, Internet celebrity ZDoggMD|
Zubin Damania, MD is the Founder of Turntable Health, a direct primary care clinic in Downtown Las Vegas that was funded by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. Before moving to Las Vegas, Dr. Damania was a practicing hospitalist (internal medicine doctor specializing in patients admitted to the hospital) at Stanford University for 10 years. He also has been writing and performing comedic raps as ZDoggMD, an internet celebrity known for his music videos, parodies, and comedy sketches about medical issues as well as systemic issues with healthcare.
Dr. Damania gave a presentation called “Are Zombie Doctors Taking Over America?” at TEDMED 2013. In it he outlines the lingering problems of the US healthcare system and how he has re-conceived it at Turntable Health into a patient-centered organization dedicated to preventative care. His speech was called one of the best of the conference. US News and World Report called his critique of American healthcare “scalpel-sharp” and “at once discomfiting and comic.”
Since beginning work on the clinic, Dr. Damania has been named one of the “top 14 people to watch in 2014” by Las Vegas Weekly, and has been profiled in The Atlantic Monthly, Xconomy, Wired, Venture Beat, Gizmodo, MSNBC and USA Today. Turntable Health was also named "by far the most exciting healthcare startup" and "revolutionary" by The Next Web.
Early life and education
Dr. Damania grew up in Clovis, California, with his parents, both Parsi doctors who immigrated from India, and two siblings. He received an undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley, where he studied music and molecular biology. While there he completed a research thesis in a genetics lab on integrin-mediated cell-cell adhesion pathways in the drosophila melanogaster model with James Fristrom.
Dr. Damania attended medical school at UCSF and graduated in 1999. His time in school was marked by a series of pursuits that combined comedy and medicine: he streamed medical comedy routines for a startup called Medschool.com, and performed medical based standup routines for drug companies, hospitals and other medical organizations. He also gave the commencement speech at UCSF at his graduation, which has had tens of thousands of views on YouTube, and made NPR's list of top commencement speeches of all time.
One of two graduating students chosen to speak at the commencement ceremony he delivered a satirical speech to an audience that included Nobel Prize winner J. Michael Bishop, and that has since garnered tens of thousands of views on YouTube.
After completing his residency at Stanford University, Dr. Damania stayed on at Palo Alto Medical Foundation for ten years as a hospitalist, where he received the Russell Lee Award for Clinical Teaching while simultaneously maintaining a side hobby performing stand-up comedy for medical audiences worldwide.
Disheartened by the traditional fee for service model on which the American medical system is based, Dr. Damania became increasingly frustrated with his work. With the encouragement of Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.com, Dr. Damania began writing, performing and filming musical parodies about the frustrations of work as a doctor, posting them on YouTube to immediate success. He developed a persona called ZDoggMD fashioned as a gangsta rapper who was upset about popular misconceptions of healthcare in the US.
In his videos, ZDoggMD combined his interests in teaching medicine, comedy, and music. He started his website in part to educate the public via humor about little known or controversial medical issues, in part as a personal outlet for creativity.
ZDoggMD has been featured or interviewed in several medical-based, and other types of well-known publications including The Atlantic Monthly, TechCrunch, Radio Rounds, The Guardian, Mental floss, ReachMD, ScienceBlogs, ACP Hospitalist, and Today's Hospitalist, amongst others.
His website won the 2010 Best New Medical Weblog at the 2010 Medical Weblog Awards sponsored by Epocrates and Lenovo.
In 2012 Tony Hsieh invited Dr. Damania to visit Las Vegas, where Hsieh was in the process of investing $350 million of his own money in a project he hoped would revitalize Downtown Las Vegas (The Downtown Project). He was successful in convincing Dr. Damania to quit his job as Physician at Stanford and move his family to Nevada. Hsieh tasked Dr. Damania with “fixing Healthcare in Vegas.” Once in Las Vegas, Dr. Damania continued to produce videos both as ZDoggMD and himself while working on opening Turntable Health.
While conceiving of the idea for Turntable Health, Dr. Damania met Rushika Fernandopulle, co-founder and CEO of a Cambridge-based startup called Iora Health, who had become well known for his vision to rebuild healthcare by removing fee-for-service episodic payments from primary care, focusing on prevention, and using a membership model. The two forged a partnership.
Turntable Health, a direct primary care clinic in Downtown Las Vegas, is the result of their collaboration. It is based on a patient focused, preventative model that subscribers can either pay a monthly fee for or have as part of their coverage in some cases.
Turntable Health opened in December 2013 and is an integral part of Hsieh’s Downtown Project of revitalizing Las Vegas and re-visualizing urban spaces.
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