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Spotlighting the powerful emotions surrounding continuous glucose monitoring and uncovering big changes at the JDRF

Published: 1/31/11
By Kelly Close

Continuous glucose monitoring defies easy description or definition.

In one sense, that’s a testament to the technology’s elegance: with a single graph, CGM instantaneously conveys more information than I could get across in this entire letter. In another sense, it’s a statement about the strong feelings that people (myself included) have toward these systems. Surprise, frustration, panic, satisfaction, pride – none of these quite convey the emotions that accompany an ever-present, imperfect machine telling you every three minutes whether your blood sugar is in control.

Perhaps no one is thinking about CGM and the future of diabetes technology more intently than the JDRF’s new president and CEO, Jeffrey Brewer, who is an exciting presence in this month’s diaTribe Dialogue column. The JDRF was founded 40 (forty!) years ago with the explicit goal of curing type 1 diabetes (called juvenile diabetes at the time), and now it’s Brewer’s turn to define what that means and how to get there. We should emphasize from the start, Brewer differs from recent JDRF presidents in one important respect: his son Sean has had diabetes since 2002, when he was diagnosed at age seven. At the time, Brewer had already founded and made very successful two major online businesses, so he knew a few things about technology. That led to his interest in, and vigorous support of, the artificial pancreas. Moreover, he became keenly aware of the challenges of managing diabetes on a daily basis, a minute-by-minute basis – the fingersticks, the glycemic roller coasters, the constant need for vigilance, and the occasional, terrifying near misses.

Reflecting Brewer’s experiences and leadership, the JDRF’s focus is shifting a little. I’ll let you read more about this in our interview, but improved management of the disease is certainly the name of the game and not only thinking about cure – a treatment focus has emerged, from focusing on basic scientific research to specific company projects; and from focusing on children alone to everyone affected by type 1 diabetes. As someone who has long been wary of a 100% cure, I’m thrilled to see JDRF take on an even fuller spectrum of diabetes treatment and am glad that someone who knows the disease so intimately is now at the helm.

To bring it full circle, I’m especially glad that the JDRF is staying in touch with the technologies that millions of people are using to manage their diabetes today. Whether it’s integrating pumps and CGM into an artificial pancreas, funding innovation for stand-alone systems, or offering education, JDRF is continuing to stay ahead of the technology curve.

For our part, we can’t yet promote an artificial pancreas, but we at diaTribe want to help you take advantage of technology, so we’ll focus on the newest diabetes technology, continuous glucose monitoring. That’s why in this month’s diaTribe promotion, we’re offering you the chance to win a free DexCom SEVEN PLUS CGM starter kit or, for current SEVEN PLUS users, a pack of SEVEN PLUS sensors, courtesy of DexCom.


Kelly L. Close

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About the authors

Kelly L. Close is the founder and Chair of the Board of The diaTribe Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of people living with diabetes and prediabetes, and... Read the full bio »