Hey, have you Googled anything yet today, on World Diabetes Day 2016? If not, hop on over to Google’s home page right now and check it out. We’ll wait…

Yup, after more than eight years of advocacy from our D-Community, Google is featuring a diabetes-themed Doodle today to mark what would be 125th birthday of insulin co-creator Dr. Frederick Banting, if he were alive today.

Seriously, this is a huge deal!

This Doodle is pretty sweet (D-pun intended, of course). It has a vintage feel to it, with a yellow parchment background and 1920s-style typeface. The second O in Google is replaced by an insulin vial, and an illustration of Dr. Banting’s face is displayed, along with an image of where the pancreas is located in the body.

Props to whomever designed this Diabetes Doodle! And to go with it, Google has also crafted a short educational YouTube video.

For the uninitiated, Google Doodles are shown in place of the Google logo at the top of the ubiquitous search engine page. They’re defined as “fun, surprising, and sometimes spontaneous changes that are made to… celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists.” When you click on a Doodle, Google shoots you to a search results page for the cause or story behind the illustration. With over three billion Google searches conducted every day, having a dedicated illustration is a huge boon for Diabetes Awareness!

As noted, our Diabetes Online Community (DOC) has been pushing for this for more than eight years now — dating back to 2008, when many advocates and groups — including the JDRF, Diabetes Hands Foundation and Diabetes Research Institute — pitched the idea of honoring Dr. Banting to Google.

At the time, folks at Google told us that while diabetes was a heavily-searched term in general, it didn’t have enough attention globally to rise to the level of deserving a Doodle. Huh?!

Even four years ago, prospects still didn’t look good. A Google source (who preferred to remain unnamed), who told us that chances for a Google Doodle on Diabetes were pretty dismal because they prefer to avoid getting mixed up in supporting various “causes” since there are so many globally competing for attention.

Specifically, the person told us, “There are guidelines, but it’s not all about the guidelines. Does if feel like a good fit? Is it fun? Is it cool? It’s not about how impactful it is, or about about issues important to humanity. It’s a marketing tool for Google, is all. Health is messy. It’s complicated. It’s hard to illustrate health causes in a Doodle cartoon. And what about the other 94 health-related requests? Google would have to accommodate them too. Saying yes to something can have implications...”

Then two years ago, an online discussion materialized in the CGM in the Cloud group on Facebook in which a Nightscout user proposed a specific diabetes Google Doodle. But that didn’t go anywhere either.

So what has changed so significantly to prompt today’s D-Doodle?

Unable to reach Google for comment, we can only speculate that it may be related to the fact that Google has recently taken a huge step into the diabetes healthcare spectrum.

The former Google Life Sciences division, now known as Verily, has hired a whole team of health and diabetes experts including Artificial Pancreas researcher Dr. Howard Zisser, formerly of William Sansum Diabetes Center and Insulet Corp.

In case you hadn’t heard, Dexcom and Verily are collaborating to create smaller, more accurate and cost-efficient diabetes technology. Prototype images of this CGM sensor in development shows it may be smaller than an M&M (!), and expected roughly by end of 2018 or early 2019. 

Of course Verily also insists they’re still working with Novartis on those glucose-sensing contact lenses announced back in early 2014, although we haven’t seen any concrete updates there.

Perhaps most significantly, there was the recent announcement of Google Life Sciences diabetes-focused spinoff Onduo, a joint venture with Sanofi. Google ‘s investing $500 million (!) to innovate on what we have to believe is a data analytics-driven tool at first for type 2 patients, and eventually expanding beyond that market.

We have heard no official word that these diabetes investments prompted today’s Doodle, but it’s not a stretch to think so.

It’s also interesting to note the timing, that it comes (coincidentally?) just as public outrage soars over insulin pricing and access concerns.

Finally, we can honestly say #WeAreNotWaiting any longer for a Google Doodle devoted to diabetes!


Thank you Google, for recognizing diabetes on this historic day marking Dr. Banting and his medical breakthrough back in the 1920s, and for helping us raise awareness across the globe on this World Diabetes Day 2016!