As many of you know, summer is a busy travel time for me because that’s when many important diabetes conferences are held! That means it’s time for me to learn about new diabetes advancements, meet with current DS funders and partners, and network with new DS donors/funders. This year, ADA’s Scientific Sessions were held in San Francisco, CA. Ironically, the first Sci Sessions I attended as the CEO of DiabetesSisters was in 2009 and it was also held in San Francisco, CA. As I walked around the convention halls, saw so many familiar faces, and raced to meetings, I found myself reminiscing about the last time I was in San Francisco at the Sci Sessions and appreciating just how far DiabetesSisters has come since then. At that time (2009), I was just getting my feet wet in the world of diabetes and was honored to be invited to present at an interest group meeting about innovative ideas in the field of diabetes. I also spent a lot of time walking around the exhibit hall trying to meet and engage with sponsors because I knew very few back then.
Fast forward to 2014 and you can see how vastly different my experience at this meeting is. This year, a diabetes pharmaceutical company flew me in early to attend a meetin g that consisted of only diabetes advocates and company executives. They were genuinely interested in hearing advocate’s opinions, understanding what is going on at the “ground level”, and better understanding how we can best work together on common goals. The following three and a half days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and half a day on Monday) were packed full of back-to-back meetings with current and potential partners, current and potential board members, and current and potential sponsors. (All of this exercising made for really good blood sugars!) This left me with less than an hour to spend in the Exhibit Hall- learning about advances in diabetes. I was also able to attend an educational session or two before my meetings got started. The topic of one of the sessions I attended was transitioning teens with diabetes into adulthood and it was led by Anne Peters, MD. I’m glad this is a topic being discussed now and there are organizations like the College Diabetes Network to help teens during this transition period. Back in the 1990s, when I was in high school and college, no one ever once acknowledged to me that there were any challenges to transitioning to adulthood with diabetes. The attitude was “just do it.” One thing I did realize from my attendance at the ADA Sci Sessions was that there is a lot more attention, new companies, and money being put into new options for glucagon. The artificial pancreas received lots of attention, but so did the plight of those living with type 2 diabetes. Three of the companies I met with specifically asked me how to better engage women with type 2 diabetes in their diabetes management. This led to many discussions about the heaps of “blame and shame” that are unfairly placed on people with type 2 diabetes. Type 1 got its own share of publicity too: The ADA released its first position statement on Type 1 diabetes. Rather than having different A1C recommendations for different ages under, the ADA now recommends a universal A1C level of 7.5% for everyone under the age of 18. This change reflects that, with the better tools today available today – including insulin analogs, pumps, and CGM – patients can achieve better glycemic control with less hypoglycemia.
Less than a week after returning from the ADA Sci Sessions, I ventured out to Chicago for my first ICE/ENDO Conference. This was my first year attending. This Conference seemed a bit more research focused. The most noteworthy session I attended was the one on Steven Russell, MD’s work on the artificial pancreas. If you’ve never seen what the artificial pancreas consists of, please see the photo below. It’s important to note that BOTH the insulin infusion and the glucagon infusion sets were changed every other day. There IS a lot of “equipment” to wear, but, in the study, the average daily blood sugar of every single participant was brought down below 140mg/dL. According to the presentation, they are planning to present to the FDA for approval in late 2016/early 2017. I also met Karen Giblin of Red Hot Mamas. Karen founded the organization in 1991 based on her own personal experiences with menopause. It was wonderful to meet with a kindred soul who started an organization to help other women with a specific condition. I look forward to working with her/Red Hot Mamas and bringing some of their expert knowledge about diabetes and menopause to our members. Stay Tuned!