How the Articifial Pancreas Technology Gave me Hope

Kelsey Bonilla Health Guide
  • Last week I was fortunate to attend a JDRF luncheon entitled, “Advancing Progress” with Tom Brobson, Director of Major Donor Relations as the keynote speaker.  The topic was his experience trialing the artificial pancreas technology as it has developed over the past six years. 


    I’ve been involved with my local chapter of the JDRF to varying degrees since 2006.  Lately my participation has been limited. To be honest, on a day-to-day basis, my diabetes is very manageable and I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the cure. But, I always appreciate an opportunity to learn what’s new in the diabetes world and get re-inspired by the hope that so many dedicated people are working to cure this disease.

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    Tom’s presentation was very interesting and fun!  I really enjoyed his approach as he framed his speech with the question, “Which chapter in the history of diabetes are we currently in?”  Thinking forward to the day when the history book is finished, diabetes is cured, and all the former PWD can read the entire story.  Are we in the middle right now?  If so, are we closer to the end or the beginning?


    The experiences Tom shared spanned three different clinical trials with artificial pancreas technology from 2007 until now.  The first trial kept him in a hospital bed for three days while pumps, CGMs, and tons of sensors monitored him constantly.  By the second trial a few years later, he was able to be mobile within the hospital and even exercise while being on the artificial pancreas.  For the most recent test in 2012, all of the technology that had been in laptops and physical wires was now in his Smartphone and wirelessly controlling the artificial pancreas.  Amazing!


    Tom reported that this technology could one day allow parents of kids with diabetes to monitor their kids’ blood sugar remotely on their own phone, when they’re apart.  Wouldn’t that be an incredible advance?


    As a fellow PWD, I could immediately relate to Tom’s closing comments about how it felt to use the artificial pancreas.  He said, “I got to turn off the constant thinking about diabetes.”  Amen.  Isn’t that the worst part of this disease?  The constant mental energy it requires.  He also felt that he got a glimpse of what a cure would be like. 


    Thanks to this research, my hope for a cure got a big bump last week.

Published On: May 16, 2013