Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

YouTube and Mike Homer

Today, Mike Homer, as well as many others suffering from incurable degenerative brain disease and dementias, will get a new video-sharing channel on YouTube (GOOG), along with a Web site and an interactive widget.


Last year, BoomTown wrote about the struggle of Homer, the longtime Silicon Valley entrepreneur (pictured here; I met him in the mid-1990s, when he was an exec at Netscape).

Unfortunately, Homer continues to suffer from Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), for which he is under treatment at the University of California at San Francisco.

“The Fight for Mike” has raised $7 million for CJD at UCSF, where Dr. Stanley B. Prusiner–who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1997 for discovering the prion protein that causes CJD–is working on a major project aimed at defeating neurodegenerative diseases.

Now comes a unique collaboration between YouTube and the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, organized by two well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Ron Conway and Bill Campbell, with the help of YouTube Co-Founder Chad Hurley.

Conway and Campbell, along with the Homer family, have led the efforts to help find a cure for Homer.

Naturally, given Homer’s background, a digital initiative was inevitable.

Thus, the new project is the kick-off of the Memory and Aging Center’s “Defeat Dementia” campaign at UCSF, which is trying to use the Web and other digital technologies to help find new ways to get information out about public health issues.

Along with CJD, the YouTube effort will also focus on Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), Parkinson’s, ALS and Alzheimer’s and try to engage the public and the medical community in a search for the causes and cures of these debilitating neurodegenerative conditions.

On the channel: videos of clinical-researchers and physicians discussing characteristics of the diseases; personal stories of patients and family members; and videos featuring advice and coping strategies from health-care professionals.

There is also now a Defeat Dementia Facebook group on the topic, and UCSF also has a partnership with Veodia.

Here is a video I did with Conway this week about the effort:

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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle