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USF professors to speak at TEDx TampaBay

Two professors at USF are finding creative ways to treat cancers and save endangered species. Because of this research, they have been asked to speak at TEDx TampaBay 2013.

Dominic D’Agostino and Csilla Ari, researchers from USF College of Public Health, have been working on their research for years and will be featured speakers at the conference that will be held at the Palladium Theatre in St. Petersburg.

The two professors will be giving 18-minute presentations at the conference, which has been hosted in Tampa Bay annually since 2010. This year’s event will be sponsored by local businesses and media outlets.

Unlike most TED presenters, who have six to nine months to prepare for their talks, Ari and D’Agostino were only confirmed to give a talk about a month ago, Ari said.

“I was very honored, but also intimidated because I watch TED talks all the time but I never thought I’d have the opportunity to give one,” D’Agostino said.

D’Agostino will be presenting his research on a ketogenic diet that he said may be more effective in curing cancer than chemotherapy.

“We have a diet therapy that’s effective, but it’s underutilized because it’s not getting the recognition it deserves,” D’Agostino said.

D’Agostino explained that a ketogenic diet, which consists of low carbohydrates and is high in fat, was proven in research on U.S. Navy SEALs to work better with preventing seizures than drugs.

This made him wonder what kind of effect this diet would have on cancer cells.

In his research, D’Agostino found that the human brain can either get its fuel source from glucose or ketones, and while the brain can adapt to using ketones for fuel, cancer must still rely on glucose.

Therefore, the lack of sugar in one’s diet would starve the energy for cancer cells, thus killing the cells, D’Agostino said.

“I just want people to be able to put my research out there and have people implement it and consider it as a therapeutic option,” D’Agostino said.

Ari will also be giving a TED talk on Friday.

When she was 13 years old, Ari became fascinated with manta rays.

As a researcher, she started doing research on manta rays in Hungary.

Ari found that many local communities were killing manta rays so they could sell body parts to tourists, which was slowly killing off their population.

Her passion for preserving the population of the manta rays led to her creation of “Manta Memories,” a distribution center for Manta Ray souvenirs that can be distributed at low costs to the locals.

This was created to replace the local communities’ source of income from killing manta rays to selling manta ray themed souvenirs.

She recently came back from Fiji about a month ago, where “Manta Memories” opened its first distribution center.

“I’m not really a presenter, I’m more of a research-type of person, so I’m nervous to speak,” Ari said. “I just know that it’s very important to get this information out there so I’ll have to face it.”

TEDx is a local arm of the larger, international TED conferences. According to their website, “TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to ideas worth spreading.”