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Helmsley Charitable Trust Launches $5 Million Diabetes Data Innovation Initiative

Twitter Summary: Helmsley Charitable Trust launches $5 million funding initiative to address problem of overwhelming #diabetes data – initial submissions due July 20.

This morning, the Helmsley Charitable Trust (HCT) launched a Diabetes Data Innovation Initiative aimed at developing advanced software for people with type 1 diabetes and their providers. The goal of this program is bold and very needed: fund software development projects that can help patients and clinicians take meaningful action from the overwhelming data that is generated by diabetes and consumer devices. HCT is offering up to $5 million in funding over a two-year period, with a critical emphasis on funding projects that can pass FDA approval and become commercialized products. This task is easier said than done – it’s challenging to create software that can safely tell patients what to do, particularly when it comes to recommendations on insulin dosing.

Potential projects could fit in a wide variety of areas, including apps, health records, sensors, and more. We’ve brainstormed a few examples of projects that might be funded:

  • Helping patients and providers optimize insulin dosing, based on automatic analysis of data.

  • Giving clinicians and patients recommendations based on different data sources (e.g., “Eating bagels for breakfast always makes your blood sugar high; your blood sugar is almost always in range after you eat eggs,” or “You are usually hypoglycemic immediately following exercise. Try reducing your basal rate by 50% during exercise or eating 15 g more carbs before exercise.”).

  • A real-time dashboard that flags patients at risk of severe events and alerts care providers.

Anyone can apply for funding, including for-profit, non-profit, and international organizations. HCT plans to award at least one grant, and the total number will depend on the quality of submissions. The proposal request form is here; a letter of inquiry is due by July 20, and those invited to write a full proposal will need to do so by October 5. An FAQ on the proposal process can also be found here. We expect many players inside diabetes will consider applying, including Dexcom, Glooko, Medtronic, Livongo, Telcare, Tidepool, WellDoc, and maybe even artificial pancreas groups. We also hope to see organizations outside of diabetes apply, since they can bring fresh perspective and software expertise.

It is exciting to see this proposal, as the field of diabetes desperately needs to move in the direction of providing actionable feedback for patients on a day-to-day basis. There simply aren’t enough endocrinologists or primary care physicians to manage the growing number of patients, and those available have no time to interpret the overwhelming amount of data now being generated. We hope that this initiative produces projects that make life easier for patients and providers, as well as valuable population level solutions that could save the healthcare system money. –AB/AJW

[Editor's note: Disclosure: diaTribe is supported in part by a generous grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust.]