Bay Area scientist is first veterinarian to be chosen as TED fellow

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A Bay Area scientist is the first veterinarian to be chosen as a TED Fellow, officials with her employer the Marine Mammal Center in Marin County said.  

A TED Fellow is a young innovator who displays outstanding achievement and exemplary character. 

"It is absolutely a dream come true," Dr. Claire Simeone, 32, conservation medicine veterinarian at the Marine Mammal Center, said Friday. 

Simeone is one of the newest class of 20 TED Fellows from four continents who will give talks at TED2018 in April in Vancouver. 

Simeone's work largely focuses on the connection between marine mammal health and the health of humans and the health of the ocean. 

For example, understanding cancer in California sea lions may lead to a better understanding of cancer in humans. 

Mobile users click here to view the science behind the Marine Mammal Center. 

Simeone said sea lions could develop a certain type of cancer that is similar to cervical cancer in women.

"What is happening to marine mammals is connected to the greater health of the ocean, the planet and all of us," TED Fellows director Shoham Arad said. "We are compelled by Claire's holistic approach to ocean health and the way in which her work can contribute to the Fellows community."

Simeone said she is still preparing her talk for TED2018 but it will involve the intersection between marine mammal health, ocean health and human health.  

"I'm super excited," she said. 

Simeone work obviously involves caring for marine mammals but also includes research. 

In a paper published last year in Veterinary Ophthalmology, Simeone and others studied how a thermodynamic gel used in human medicine can keep an antibiotic in place on sea lions suffering from eye ulcers.

Simeone said using the gel can help sea lions heal without having to be treated as frequently since they don't like to sit still. 

"It's really revolutionized how we treat eye ulcers in marine mammals," Simeone said. 

The TED Fellows program started in 2009 and includes 453 fellows from 96 countries. 

Talks by the fellows have collectively been viewed more than 178 million times.