The New Year is just around the corner, so as per tradition, we're reviewing all the things that have made 2011 a year to remember in the diabetes world and here at the 'Mine.
We've had some big moments in technology as the FDA finally approved some progressive stuff. There were some amazing times with our blogging compatriots IRL (that's Internet-speak for "in real life"). And there were some milestones of us both professionally and personally.
Here's a look at what we think stands out in 2011:
We rang in the New Year with some really big news from our side: DiabetesMine became part of the Alliance Health Networks family. I took on the new role of Vice President of Patient Advocacy as well as Editor-in-Chief of DiabetesMine. Allison officially joined the staff of the 'Mine as Assistant Editor.
Fresh from the adventure of a lifetime, Amazing Race winner Nat Strand chatted with us about what it takes to travel around the world with diabetes!
I also discussed the nitty-gritty of inhaled insulin with Dance Pharmaceuticals CEO, John Patton. He's a veteran of the failed Exubera team, and is on a mission to revive this product category.
We launched our series on diabetes complications with a look at diabetic retinopathy (no pun intended!). We've since followed up with 411's on heart disease, gum disease, neuropathy, gastroparesis, depression and even frozen shoulder. Not to bum you all out, but this stuff is important for us PWDs to know.
Allison covered the JDRF Research Summit in Washington, D.C., where updates on the artificial pancreas, the immune system, and prevention of diabetes were discussed. Allison also interviewed Dr. Ed Damiano about the Artificial Pancreas Project.
JDRF CEO Jeffrey Brewer publicly discussed the organization's new direction, setting off a firestorm of controversy. Some folks were very upset that JDRF is no longer focused solely on cure research, but we happen to applaud the work they're doing in developing technologies that can help patients live better now. Allison shared her personal feelings and struggles in hoping for a cure.
We were very excited to share an inspiring guest post from a U.S. Marine who refused to give up his dream of serving his country when he was diagnosed with diabetes.
Dr. Denise Faustman, one of the most controversial yet admired researchers, sat down for a video chat with us about the latest developments in her innovative research to cure diabetes. She also gave us a tour of her laboratory.
We kicked off the 2011 DiabetesMine Design Challenge, our annual online competition to encourage creative new tools for improving life with diabetes.
Speaking of innovation, Allison took us on a behind-the-scenes tour of an artificial pancreas clinical trial at Massachusetts General Hospital, led by co-investigator Dr. Ed Damiano.
Allison also traveled to Washington, D.C., with a delegation of bloggers for JDRF's Government Day to talk about social media with the JDRF grassroots advocacy leaders from around the country, meet with Members of Congress on the Hill, and have a briefing with Jeffrey Brewer. Very cool!
At the 'Mine, we launched our new Weekend Edition, now featuring a wonderful roster of cartoonists and a very quirky, useful and fun advice column from D-author and community educator, Wil Dubois. We love you, Wil!
Allison and I traveled to Los Angeles to take part in the first-ever Medtronic Diabetes Advocates Forum, where we discussed our thoughts on social media and patient community needs, and also learned about some new Medtronic offerings (like the MyMedtronic Connect iPhone app), and toured the facilities where they produce the Medtronic CGM sensors. That last bit was pretty eye-opening.
We also investigated some interesting rumors we'd heard in LA about progressive products currently only available in Europe: the Medtronic Enlite sensors and the Animas Vibe insulin pump.
In the midst of our Design Challenge, we took a look at one company burgeoning forward to bring innovation to the diabetes market: CellNovo. CEO Bill McKeon discussed their sleek new insulin pump inspired by the iPhone.
I flew to Las Vegas for a keynote speech to Sanofi Aventis' A1c Champions national meeting, where I was able to give these motivational speakers a pep talk about the Diabetes Online Community! What a great group of grassroots advocates the Champions are.
DiabetesSisters' semi-annual Weekend for Women conference took place in Raleigh, NC, and Allison had the opportunity to attend. She shared the stories of several "sisters" who found inspiration and hope just by spending some time with other women with diabetes.
JDRF announced a partnership with Amylin to study the combination of insulin and symlin, something we're sure folks who dislike multiple daily injections (and who doesn't?) will appreciate if they can get the formulation to work!
JDRF's NYC Chapter hosted an evening with Dr. Sanjoy Dutta, the Director of Glucose Control Therapies at JDRF. He discussed JDRF's Insulin Initiative, a program to investigate how to make insulin work faster and better, which will help blood sugar control in the long run, of course.
D-Mom and super advocate Moira McCarthy Stanford wrote a touching guest post about dealing with her teen daughter's rebellion against diabetes and her advice on how other parents can avoid the same heartache. This post was quite controversial, with 59 comments to date.
We were thrilled to announce the winners of the 2011 DiabetesMine Design Challenge. What an honor to be able to share the amazing talent we found through the process!
That was followed immediately by the annual American Diabetes Association's Scientific Sessions. This HUGE annual conference was a little light on breakthrough products this year, mainly because so much was backed up awaiting FDA approval. Grrr... But there were still a few juicy announcements, including research showing increased life expectancy for PWDs, new advances in the Artificial Pancreas Project, and a CGM trial in kids and teens.
We were honored to feature the story of Bob Krause, the longest-living person with diabetes! Bob has had diabetes for 85 years and is doing great. We were also delighted to meet Bob in person in San Diego at a Joslin reception at the ADA Scientific Sessions:
July was a big month for Allison... she got married!
And while she was on her honeymoon and I took my annual family trip to Germany, we had some absolutely amazing folks stop by to offer guest posts:
- Diabetes attorney Kris Halpern shared what you need to know about discrimination in the workplace
- Author Amy Stockwell Mercer gave us her insights in what it's like to be a smart woman with diabetes
- Blogger Sysy Morales listed 10 things men need to know about women with diabetes
We also published three interviews with some key leaders in the diabetes community:
- IDF execs Drs. Jean-Claude Mbanya and Martin Silink shared their thoughts on the international diabetes community and the Life for a Child program
- Famous endo Dr. Lois Jovanovic gave women with diabetes some useful tips on how to stay healthy before, during, and after a pregnancy
We hit Las Vegas for the American Association of Diabetes Educator's Annual Conference, where David Edelman, Manny Hernandez, Hope Warshaw and I spoke to a packed room of diabetes educators about the power of the DOC! Talk about your advocacy opportunities — woohoo!
Scandal rocked the DOC with the discovery the insulin pumps could be hacked! Not only that, but the man who discovered this is a pump-wearing PWD himself, who began some some tenuous back-and-forth between himself and the pump manufacturer, later revealed to be Medtronic Diabetes. Although Medtronic claims they are investigating the issue, the hacker wasn't convinced they took the issue seriously. Months later, articles on insulin pump hacking are still cropping up in the news...
We started September with the second annual Diabetes Art Day, the brainchild of art therapist and activist Lee Ann Thill, who helped us work out some of our diabetes frustrations in the form of creative expression.
September was a BIG month for us at the 'Mine, as we hosted our first-ever DiabetesMine Innovation Summit, bringing together in one room pharma product experts, entrepreneurs, designers, VCs, empowered patients and our contest winners. The resulting interactions were nothing short of revolutionary!
Then diabetes innovation came knocking on front door in the form of a test drive of the new iBGStar glucose meter, which plugs directly into an iPhone or iTouch.
But progress still floundered as the FDA continued to grapple with how to make the Medtronic VEO — a product already available in 40 other countries — available in the U.S. with its powerful low-glucose suspend feature. Geez, in the very short-term, too much insulin is far riskier than not enough!
The history-making UN Summit on Noncommunicable Diseases took place, along with a rally in Central Park. But not without quite a bit of headache before and not nearly enough commitment during and after, at least according to the folks who attended. Ann Keeling, CEO of the International Diabetes Federation, gave us her feedback on the outcomes of the Summit.
We also checked out MyGlu.org, from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, a new social network and counterpart to the new type 1 diabetes national registry they are building. Great, great things are in the works there.
In October, Allison traveled to Kansas City, MO, for one of the biggest (and possibly best?) diabetes meet-ups ever! Simon, a PWD from Australia, traveled half way across the world for a "North American tour" that covered Los Angeles, Kansas City, and New York City. In case you're bummed that you missed out, we hear he's coming back in 2012 for CWD's Friends for Life conference in July!
Brilliant minds in diabetes research convened in San Diego for TEDxDelMar, the first-ever satellite TED conference focusing on the search for a cure.
Mid-October brought us LADA Awareness Week, a campaign dedicated to raising awareness about a form of type 1 diabetes diagnosed in adults. Close to my heart, this is! The proper definition of LADA is a little difficult to pin down, so I queried some top experts to see what they think.
We took a look at some of the many new diabetes iPhone apps, including the new Glooko app, which allows you to upload your blood sugar readings to your phone using a simple USB cable for easy logging.
Getting a handle on blood sugars was a top priority for Allison, who shared her thoughts and concerns on pregnancy and diabetes (it's all about planning, right?).
November is a HUGE month for the diabetes community... but it still goes relatively unnoticed by most of the world. In hopes of changing that, we launched our own Unite Behind the Blue Circle Campaign. Our petition for ADA, JDRF, and AADE to more prominently use the Blue Circle to unite the diabetes community garnered over 3,000 signatures!
JDRF also rang in November with the launch of their T1 Day and a shocking newspaper ad in The New York Times and The Washington Post stating that 1 in 20 people with diabetes will die from a low blood sugar. They're not the only national advocacy org using stats to scare up support, and Jeffrey Brewer stands behind the move.
Allison was on hand in NYC with her video camera ready to welcome members of Team Type 1 after they ran across the country. Not kidding!
Big diabetes technology news broke when the FDA approved Tandem's new sleek t:slim insulin pump, with an iPhone-like design. Suddenly, the FDA seemed on a roll — as they also approved the iGlucose, a device that wireless transmits blood sugars to a management system, and Medtronic Minimed's iPro CGM, a new continuous monitor that doctors can lend out to patients.
Nevertheless, we still have issues with progress at the FDA, and I hoped to gain some insight at a JDRF breakfast on FDA reform held in Silicon Valley. Thumbs sideways.
We closed out the month with two exciting giveaways:
- We honored all our vocal readers with our 20,000 Voices Giveaway, to mark our 20,000th comment here at the 'Mine and all the wonderful folks out there who make our work worthwhile!
The FDA came through in a big way with the approval of the iBGStar glucose meter, the first and only meter that directly plugs into an iPhone! This bodes well for integration of health / medical devices with consumer technology across the board.
The FDA also released its guidance on the Artificial Pancreas, and JDRF seemed pleased with what they saw initially; we're still waiting to see how it all plays out.
Lifescan also released their OneTouch Verio glucose meter (in Canada), the first-ever meter than can alert you to trends. We got some great user feedback.
Allison's husband chimed in with his thoughts on being the life partner of a PWD. He's a keeper, I tell you!
Well... we're crossing our fingers (and toes!) that the events in November and December bode well for more great new tools to pass through FDA in the new year. We also have more fun things up our sleeves here at the 'Mine, as we hope to make 2012 bigger and better than ever.
As always, your input is more than welcome.
Happy New Year, Folks!
Amy + Allison