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d16: Executive Innovation Lab on Diabetes and Obesity


About d16

The diaTribe Foundation hosted its inaugural d16: Executive Innovation Lab on Diabetes and Obesity from January 13–15, 2016 in Palo Alto, CA. d16 engaged leaders across diverse sectors to produce innovative, systems-level solutions that could reduce the societal burden of diabetes, heighten the urgency and need for action around the epidemic, and bring a new way of thinking into the diabetes ecosystem.

d16 was facilitated by Heather McLeod Grant, an expert in scalable social impact, Alexa Culwell, co-founder of Philanthropy Futures, and Lisa Kay Solomon, a leading innovation strategist. Using elements of “design thinking,” participants were guided through collaborative workshops to offer innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges in type 2 diabetes.

Forty-two participants attended d16, including prominent medical professionals, entrepreneurs, manufacturing leaders, policy-oriented healthcare experts, academics, tech leaders, government decision makers, educators, media experts, food and nutrition scholars, and philanthropists. Participant biographies are available at

Filling an Urgent Need in the Community

Recent data revealed that one in seven US adults has diabetes, two in five US adults have prediabetes, and eight in 10 seniors have diabetes or prediabetes. More than 30 million people are at risk of major health complications. And these largely preventable diseases are costing the US nearly $245 billion per year in direct and indirect healthcare costs. Indeed, one in five healthcare dollars in the US is spent on diabetes.

How could we as a society have failed at combatting the largest public health crisis of our time while spending such astronomical sums on it each year? Part of the reason, in our view, is that too many of the funds invested in addressing this epidemic have been used to relieve symptoms, focusing on treatments and reactionary “Band-Aid” solutions, rather than prevention, behavior change, and proactive, cross-sector solutions.

We need more holistically-designed approaches that identify root causes of the diabetes epidemic and offer innovative, scalable solutions. At d16, we responded to that need: after breaking down the diabetes ecosystem into seven key fields and examining the causes of diabetes in each of these areas, d16’s group of experts identified patterns across the board and ideated new solutions that could be impactful, scalable, and investable.

At d16, we analyzed the diabetes ecosystem and identified bright spots and gaps: what is currently successful in diabetes, what needs improvement, and what could be scalable? Many of the ideas below are not new. What is new is the way of thinking regarding how they are connected to other approaches, and how various components of the diabetes ecosystem can work together to implement and scale the ideas. These innovative solutions address the underlying causes of diabetes across the ecosystem, beginning the conversation on how to break down the silos that have long stunted progress in diabetes. We hope the result will be greater impact, which includes both a strong return on investment for funders, and the improved health of our communities.

Read here for an overview of the ideas generated at d16, and visit our full Consensus of Ideas d16 report at this link.




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