Amy Li

Amy Li

What is your innovation/idea?

Inspired by my own cancer journey against stage 4 cancer, I founded Dance4Healing: roots in neuroscience and positive psychology, uses Artificial Intelligence (AI), behavior design, and gamification to build an ecosystem to unleash the healing power of music and dance. We aim to alleviate mental and physical pain that comes with serious illness, and help people find enjoyment and comfort in difficult times. We recently launched first pilot trial program for cancer patients, and currently testing our virtual dance platform. 8 weeks of dance classes, 8 outstanding teachers, each week we expose patients to a different form of dance to help them discover one they like, and pair them up with a buddy to help each other build dance habits. We meet to dance and laugh together, and enjoy fun virtual dances with buddies, friends and families (near or far) throughout the week. Within 4 weeks, our patients, as well as their family members, already told us how they feel stronger, happier, and more empowered. With a fantastic film crew lead by Emmy winning filmmaker Paige Bierma, we are also producing a documentary to broadcast the healing power of music and dance.

Tell us about yourself

In 2012, I was awarded a full scholarship from 3,150 applicants worldwide to attend an 80-person graduate program at Singularity University, known for empowering innovative future leaders to apply technologies to address global challenges. Google founder Larry Page said: “If I were a student, this is where I’d want to be.” While I was inspired to change the world, I was diagnosed with cancer. As a marathon runner, I led a healthy lifestyle, however I was highly stressed, especially leading up to the cancer diagnosis. I researched and discovered that stress compromises one’s immune system, and causes many diseases. With inner strength and tremendous support, I not only defeated cancer, but also discovered the healing power of music and dance. 

I’m a multidisciplinary creative leader specializing in branding and UX for global brands such as Yahoo, AT&T, VW, HTC, and Playstation, experienced in building/managing UX and creative teams in design agencies and large tech companies.  A frequent speaker on UX discipline, innovation and the future of design, was an active local UX community leader in planning and organizing UX events in Southern California. My app "Have2P" was awarded "App of the Week" in the New York Times, featured in Gizodo and numerous major tech blogs, and praised as third on the list of 11 Coolest Apps Ever.

I’m also on the board of directors of Humanity+, an international non-profit advocate using technology to expand human capacities. I co-chaired several Humanity+ conferences, i.e., the Humanity+ @Caltech was mentioned in a TIME Magazine cover story, and Humanity+ @Beiing was featured in many major Chinese media.

As a Chinese American who is fluent both in English and Chinese, I’m also passionate about bridging the Eastern and Western technology and science communities. I would like to work with your organization in expanding to Asia, by utilizing my bilingual skills and understanding of both cultures, and ultimately creating interesting collaborations.

Why are you participating in this competition?

My mom said that coming up to study at NASA saved my life”. I was misdiagnosed in Los Angeles, changing of the location and doctor enabled the correct diagnosis, and I was fortunate to be surrounded by a loving supportive community at Singularity University at NASA, many volunteers from the cancer community and the dance community. People took time to talk to me, give me rides to treatments, share their life challenges, and provide housing for me, the incredible love and support pouring in lifted my spirit, and inspired me to give back to the community that supported me, building a loving supportive community through music and dance for other patients.

I am also a tenacious fighter and achiever, and will dedicate every single effort to achieve my goals, not to mention how such a meaningful project now fully captures my heart. At age 12, I won first prize in a county-wide speech contest. I performed in big theaters, and MC’d various educational and corporate functions, This gave me a lot of confidence and made me believe that I could accomplish anything in life.  In 2007, I climbed Mt. Whitney. In 2011, I ran a marathon. In 2012, I fought cancer. In 2013, I conquered cancer, and now I’m a fighter, not only for myself, but also for the cancer community that supports me at the most difficult time in my life. 

Behavior change is the biggest challenge in the healthcare industry. People with health difficulties suffer from not only physical fatigue, but also severe mental stress. Our survey shows that many understand the benefits of exercise, but don’t partake in it. Although the ability and motivation to exercise is present, there is no impetus. Music, used for centuries to reduce stress and anxiety, is a natural trigger for dance. Research shows that dancing frequently will reduce the risk of dementia by 76%! Dance/movement therapy, especially synchronized movement to rhythm, is highly effective not only for physical, but more importantly for emotional well-being (broadly more effective than physical therapy and other exercises). Dance/movement therapy increases serotonin and decreases dopamine, building a more balanced brain. Hand/finger exercises help people with restricted movements by promoting neuroplasticity in the brain, increasing motor skills, brain communication efficiency, balance, coordination and timing. My expertise in user experience and behavior design enable me to see the true beauty of Dance4Healing. Dance is the most fun and cost-effective integrative method in the fight against cancer.  I personally benefit tremendously.  I also see the same response in our patients: their smiling faces, and their stronger bodies and spirit. I can’t wait to build the most engaging, immersive and user-friendly product to allow my fellow fighters to live happier, healthier and stronger.

We have also received tremendous support from Advisors: Ian Stewart, Wired Magazine co-founder and builder of 30 companies; Frank FitzPatrick, Grammy-nominated musician, CEO of EarthTones; Eric Rasmussen, MD, MDM, FACP, CEO, Infinitum Humanitarian Systems and former CEO, InSTEDD - the 2006 TED Prize to Dr. Larry Brilliant, former director of;  and Ananda Jayant, one of the most inspirational TED speakers: Fighting Cancer with Dance. Each is an expert in his or her own field, their experience and expertise have been extremely helpful for Dance4Healing, and will guide us through this journey of building a successful social impact company. We aim to positively impact 1 billion in the next 10 years.


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