Jiangfeng Fei is the new Senior Manager of New Technology Development for the JDRF Artificial Pancreas Project (APP). His responsibilities include "identification of new device development opportunities that fill key gaps to accelerate the goals of the JDRF APP, and acting as the scientific lead on current device-related partnerships with industry and academic investigators." We were thrilled to include him in the recent 2013 DiabetesMine Innovation Summit at Stanford University -- and equally thrilled to hear back on Fei's thoughts following the event. Read on...
A Guest Post by Jiangfeng Fei
JDRF is an organization founded and driven by individuals directly connected to type 1 diabetes (T1D). Working to improve the lives of those affected by this disease as we create a world without T1D is what we're all about — it's part of our DNA! People touched by T1D support JDRF because they trust that the research we're driving will make a difference in their lives.
Because understanding the personal perspective of T1D is so important to JDRF, I was excited to be part of the DiabetesMine Innovation Summit this year. This forum is a great opportunity for bringing the many T1D stakeholders, including those who have T1D, together to discuss the issues that directly impact them. Here's my take on some of the key voices I heard at the Summit this year who are working together to change the lives of all those affected by T1D:
* Dr. Courtney Lias, with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), gave an overview of what the FDA is doing to help move innovative T1D products more quickly to those who can benefit from them. From JDRF's own work to fund research and shape the regulatory pathway for artificial pancreas systems, we know the FDA is playing a leadership role to advance innovative T1D products. Dr. Lias said the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health is seeking to apply principles from the CRDH Innovation Pathway as it works with innovators developing a variety of products.
* Howard Look gave a very passionate talk on the exchange of T1D data. As the parent of a child with T1D, his voice was loud and clear on the need to "set the data free." Mr. Look created Tidepool, an open source, open platform, cloud-based data management tool that helps individuals with T1D capture their daily T1D management activities. Using apps like Blip and Nutshell can help make diabetes self-care more visualized, educational and effective. At the same time, one of the biggest frustrations among users is that these tools and devices don't talk to each other. Users must use a separate tool to consolidate the data from different devices and manage their diabetes. We often hear that companies don't support the sharing of this data because their platforms are "proprietary." However, Mr. Look made the point that the data comes from patients, and should therefore belong to patients as well.
* Continuing the theme of a patient-centric approach, JDRF strongly agrees with the comments expressed at the Summit by patient advocate Anna McCollister-Slipp who stressed that while FDA, industry, and payers are all important stakeholders in the innovation of T1D products, patients should be the ones taking the lead. Patients have to speak up and let all the stakeholders know what is right for them.
* A Patient Voices Survey presented by Amy Tenderich and some of the patient winners provided deep insights into the daily issues and challenges that key stakeholders need to tackle in order to really help those affected by T1D. If anyone wants to develop an innovative and truly beneficial diabetes care product, I would highly recommend reading this survey. JDRF uses a variety of approaches, including our T1D Voices Council, to collect perspectives on the needs of those with and affected by this disease, and we congratulate others finding new ways to amplify the voices of the most important stakeholder — individuals with T1D.
I heard some powerful messages from individuals with T1D at the Summit this year. The common theme of using technology to enable a better life really hit home for me. The very articulate people who spoke hit the key aspects of what meaningful innovation means to them for T1D, including: human-centered, simple, convenient, integrated, and accurate.
Those of us on the JDRF Artificial Pancreas team have been working hard to drive meaningful technology innovation towards our ultimate goal, fully automated artificial pancreas systems, because we know from people with T1D that such systems would revolutionize the management of this disease. We're determined to give them what they really want, and I left the Summit motivated by the patient voices I heard to redouble our efforts to deliver life-changing technologies to those who so urgently need them.
On a separate but related note, I wanted to share with you an exciting announcement that JDRF made recently about moving innovative T1D products closer to patients. We just announced the launch of a novel venture-creating entity called T1D Innovations to accelerate the development of innovative T1D therapies and devices. T1D Innovations will create and fund high-impact companies to translate key discoveries into novel T1D products, enabling them to cross the well-known biomedical "valley of death" -- the notorious translational gap that often prevents promising biomedical discoveries from being developed and reaching patients. This is another example of JDRF's focus on finding innovative ways to give individuals with T1D a better life on our journey to a cure.
Thanks to Amy Tenderich for organizing this fantastic event, so all of us have an opportunity to hear from those who have the biggest stake in the outcomes of our combined efforts — individuals with T1D and their loved ones.