We're getting into busy D-conference season, and May has already brought a number of events keeping us busy, such as the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) conference that Wil Dubois covered earlier this month.

Notebook JDRF and Joslin ConferencesMost recently, getting in on the action were the Big Js in the Diabetes Community, as it were: JDRF with its Diabetes Now & Tomorrow conference and Joslin Diabetes' Symposium on Challenges and Opportunities.

We were on the ground at both events, with me attending the JDRF conference in Michigan and fellow PWD Sara Krugman attending the Joslin Diabetes symposium in Boston. Naturally there was some significant overlap in research updates and themes.


{Very soon our newest team member Amanda Cedrone will also report on the Students With Diabetes national conference happening this week.}


JDRF's Conference

by Mike Hoskins

Making the drive from my home in Indianapolis to my native Southeast Michigan, I made my way to the JDRF Today and Tomorrow Conference that was held about 30 miles west of Detroit on Saturday, May 18. This was the sixth consecutive year they've held the event, making it one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. This was the second consecutive year that I personally attended, one of more than 1,000 people who came out to see dozens of presenters and exhibitors on a wide variety of D-topics.

The theme hit close to home: Diabetes in the Age of Technology. And some of us were live-tweeting using the hashtag #jdrfdet13.

Three keynote speakers all focused on tech and the much-talked about Artificial Pancreas -- that you can't attend a JDRF conference without hearing about these days. They were Dr. William Tamborlane from Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Bruce Buckingham from Stanford Hospital and Clinics, and Dr. Steven Russell from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital's Diabetes Research Center.

Tamborlane and Buckingham are brilliant and funny guys and it's always a pleasure to hear them speak, and they touched largely on tTamborlane TTFB Pump Skinhe evolution of diabetes management and where we are going. One of the best slides Tamborlane showed was a pump skin that his pediatric endo team created at Yale: "TTFB," which stands for Take The Freakin' Bolus to remind adolescents who may not always remember to bolus for what they eat. I absolutely loved that, and need to get one of those pump skins for myself! He also mentioned that these adventurous teenage years bring out one of the most significant benefits of pump therapy for pediatric endos -- creating an actual bolus history for the many teens with D who don't often log or track their D-data.

We've written about Russell's bionic pancreas project before and what he and Ed Damiano are doing over in Boston, with the hope of getting a real product through the FDA by 2017. It was interesting to hear about their overall gameplan of contributing any money they receive back into the project. They're also starting one of their pediatric D-Camp studies in July and we expect to hear some more news from that team by year's end.

Aside from the keynotes, it was great seeing certified diabetes educator and fellow type 1 Gary Scheiner (who was just recently voted as the CDE of the Year by the American Association of Diabetes Educators!) and hearing some of his talk about exercise and D-management. I happen to be training for my first-ever ADA Tour de Cure bike ride in early June, some of his tips were particularly helpful for me:

  • Remember that your blood sugars drop four times faster when exercising
  • For day-long activity, cut basal rates down 2 hours before any exercise
  • Cut bolus doses by 25-50% before exercise
  • Smaller, more frequent snacks during a workout help keep blood sugars up

Speaking of exercise, fellow type 1 Tom Grossman of Team Type 1, who ran across the U.S. in 15 days, was there telling his story and it was great to finally meet such an inspirational guy in person!

My own presentation on the Diabetes Online Community was tech-focused, too, of course: Diabetes in the Age of Twitter, Facebook and the Blogosphere. I shared my diagnosis story,and talked about finding the DOC, getting into the blogosphere and Twitter-verse and eventually joining Amy's team here at the 'Mine. All of course made possible by communications technology that is connecting ever more of us, and enabling a new level of patient advocacy that's making a difference in our D-World and the broader health community. I enjoyed meeting new friends and helping them learn a little about online resources like the weekly #dsma chats and shows, and how there are so many options for PWDs, parents, grandparents, caregivers, and even D-spouses out there.

A downfall of this conference was that everything seemed so crammed into narrow time slots, and there wasn't really time to catch many of the overlapping presentations. Everything from "There Has To Be An App For That," "Insulin Pump Technology in 2013 and Beyond," and "Psychosocial Aspects of Adolescents with T1D" would've been great to see. Same for the legal rights session on advocating for your CWD and being safe at school. There were so many topics that  I had an interest in! But the presenters all had to repeat our 20-presentations back-to-back, and so unfortunately I didn't get a chance to see any of the other sessions. Sadly, the JDRF chapter didn't feel the need to videotape or webcast any of these and post for later viewing, so if you missed a session then you're out of luck. Hopefully, this is something they address in the future.

Without a doubt, the best part of most of these conferences is just being able to meet up other fellow PWDs, either for a renewed visit or for the first time outside of the online universe! We had a small gathering of DOCers there, and we found some time to snap a photo (from left to right): Mike, D-Dad Tim Brand of Bleedingfinger, D-Mom Andrea Bard, D-Mom Shari of Everyday Highs and Lows, and Reva of TypeONEderful.



Still, despite the inability to see other presentations, this JDRF chapter had a great lineup that seems to rival many of the other chapter-specific conferences that are becoming more common happenings across the country.



Joslin's Symposium

Sara Krugman, one of our Patient Voices winners from 2012 and a friend of the 'Mine, volunteered to cover the first-ever Joslin Symposium on May 6, which had the theme: Challenges and Opportunities in T1D Research. SaraKrugman Headshot

by Sara Krugman

Some of the top diabetes scientists from around the world were at this event, and there were eight presentations from researchers and developers, who each shared their progress, perspectives and strategies. These ranged from some details on the next round of bionic pancreas research taking place at Clara Barton summer camp this year, to learning how Harvard researcher Dr. Doug Melton's lab was able to make a glucose-responsive and insulin secreting beta cell, to trying to stop the immune attack of the pancreas before T1D sets in.

I was also privileged to meet and talk with fellow PWD Tom Beatson, who had his 50-year medal proudly hanging around his neck, and to hear again from CEO John Brooks that the Joslin is committed to creating "practical and meaningful wellness initiatives" (although I'm not sure what those are but I could take a guess based on Amy's recent interview with John).

Melton's lab is now able to make 1 billion cells in one batch that respond to glucose, but they are not perfect at secreting insulin. The progress is amazing, however getting the cells to respond and react properly in humans and not be attacked by the immune system still seems a bit far down the road. It reminds me of when I was diagnosed and told that there would be a cure within 5 years. I think many of us have heard a similar story. When I asked Tom what got him excited about the day, he didn't tell me about any of the new findings or possibilities. He has seen it all (literally, he was diagnosed in 1941!), but rather recited a common but poignant proverb in relation to living with diabetes: "one day at a time." I too feel that research and solutions related to my everyday experience and not a promise for a future cure, are those that spark my excitement much more.

The head of Pediatrics at the Joslin, Lori Lafell, reminds us that "imperfections of the current systems don't take away from the incredible progress." We can't forget how far the technology has come, but we also cannot shy away from talking about the stagnancy of development for tools to manage the day-to-day experience with diabetes.

Damiano was there, too, presenting his work on the bionic pancreas, which I found pretty exciting, because it felt close to everyday life. He said that they expected the system would be ready for FDA review in 2017, which doesn't seem all that far off.  They are doing clinical testing in Boston right now and will do a larger and longer study at the Clara Barton Camp this summer. A few factoids about the system: it only requires weight to initialize the system, and the algorithm for dosing is self-learning. My work at my health design studio Line is driven by my own and other peoples' day-to-day needs. The new controller is well integrated, but the thought of having to wear three separate ports -- one for glucagon, one for insulin, and one for a CGM -- does not thrill me.


Dr. Susan Bonner-Weier of Harvard began her talk with, "The pancreas in diabetes is not simply a scarred field of an old battleground, but is the actual field of conflict. It does not submit without a struggle to injury, but endeavors to regenerate" a quote by Shields Warren, MD, 1938.

This was a way of noting that her molecular-level research is based on the understanding that the autoimmune attack is an ongoing process in which the beta cells are attacked in phases, not all at once. Using a metaphor to describe a foreign concept brings the subject alive. It helps me to understand what happened and what is happening inside my body and brings a sense of self-awareness. I continue to feel strongly about ownership and authorship -- the root of not caring for the self is not being empowered, and knowledge empowers.

The more we know, the less we fear, the stronger we feel, and the better we care.


Please stay tuned as we attend the upcoming Really Big diabetes conferences this summer: American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions in Chicago,  Children With Diabetes Friends for Life conference in Orlando, and the AADE annual meeting in Philly. As always, we'll do our best to let you know what's happening in the Diabetes World!

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.