Saturday, March 5th marked another terrific JDRF Type One Nation Summit in the D.C. suburbs, specifically, Bethesda, Maryland. Over 800 people living with diabetes and caring for people living with diabetes were in attendance, and they saw a number of presentations from people who really know what they’re talking about.
But let me back up for a moment…
For me, the day started with an adult T1D meet and greet. It was a terrific way to say hello to the other adult PWDs in attendance. When you have so many people in the same room, it’s easy to lose track of who is a PWD (Person With Diabetes) and who isn’t. We got around 45 minutes to sit and chat informally, and I was happy to make some new friends in Andre, Tom, Moe, and Tom. I was really glad to see this become part of the agenda. And I’m hoping it returns next year.
Our summit was moderated by Stefany Shaheen, writer of the book Elle and Coach, about her daughter (who lives with Type 1) and her service dog. She’s also co-founder and President of Good Measures, which designs healthy eating plans from registered dieticians that people can access via a digital platform.
Okay… once the meet and greet was finished, we were all given what seems to be a pep talk by Bill Parsons, who was a former member of the JDRF’s International Board of Directors and Chair of Research; and who is now Executive Director of our Greater Chesapeake and Potomac chapter. He didn’t sugar coat diabetes (ironic), and he didn’t hide from the facts. But he did convey JDRF’s passion for reduced burdens, better outcomes, and eventually, a cure that people working with JDRF are so famous for. It was a good table setter.
Bill’s talk really got everyone in the room jazzed, and then we got to the keynote address for the day, given by JDRF’s CEO Derek Rapp. He also spoke a little at the adult meet and greet. This is the first time I’ve heard him speak in person, and I was taken by the unassuming way he delivers the heart of what JDRF is all about these days. He wasn’t just giving us a laundry list of accomplishments, but rather a reason why the accomplishments are necessary, and the assurance that JDRF isn’t giving up until there’s a cure. Which is reassuring.
Then it was on to Howard Look, CEO of Tidepool. This guy is really, really smart. His Type 1 daughter is using a homemade artificial pancreas system that Howard designed himself. Cool dad. I’ve written about Howard and how he presents his take on device data and making it available in one place, and it seems like Tidepool, the non-profit out of California, is really on fire these days. His presentation also included a live demo of the Blip app that Tidepool has rolled out. It allows you to upload pump data, CGM data, meter data, and more and get real time analytics on your numbers. All your numbers. In one place. And if you choose, your doctor can too. It’s all free. If you have a Chrome browser, you can download the app right now at tidepool.org.
Howard also covered the latest from Tidepool, still in development, called the Nutshell app. It’s supposed to be able to grab data from your fitness tracker, allow you to input data related to meals, and again, see that data in one place. Brilliant!
Gary Scheiner was at the summit again this year. He gave a really super presentation this time on how to take the sting out of those pesky post-meal glucose spikes. He gave us some really simple steps that all of us can apply. Simple suggestions, like adding a little acidity (like tomatoes) to a meal to help cut into those high glycemic foods. And eating your vegetables first, which leaves less room in your stomach for the carby stuff that pumps up the BGs. I have to admit: eating my salad first means eating less bread and potatoes with my entree. It was a very useful talk.
Next it was Cynthia Rice, Senior VP of Advocacy and Policy for JDRF. She’s another person with a real passion for bringing the concerns of T1Ds to elected officials and commpany representatives. Interested in playing a part in JDRF advocacy yourself? We could really use you. CLICK HERE to learn more.
I wouldn’t normally talk about lunch, but I will this time because of two things: 1) The buffet had carb counts for everything! Very helpful, and I was glad to see it. And 2) I got to eat lunch with the intelligent, talented, and overall wonderful Kelly Kunik, who was leading one of the youth sessions earlier in the day. I also took a little time to check out the exhibition hall, full of organizations and companies with the latest products. Bonus bonus.
After lunch, it was Dr. Sanjoy Dutta, Assistant VP of Translational Development and International Partnerships. What does that mean exactly? Well, in this case, it meant that he was able to give the attendees all the latest on research and advancement toward better outcomes and (hopefully, eventually) a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Now I am up to speed.
Any diabetes gathering that includes Joe Solowiejczyk is solid gold. Joe Solo is an RN, a CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator), and author of A Type 1 Diabetes Guide to the Universe. His talk centered around the parent/kid with Type 1 interactions that can be such a challenge. Sometimes raw, always funny, he really made a case for how to make the most of those difficult situations. If you ever get the chance to hear Joe Solo speak, don’t miss it.
Finally, it was ViaCyte’s turn. Paul Laikind, PhD, President and CEO of ViaCyte came in person to tell everyone about the exciting advancements they’ve been able to achieve in the past year. Guess what? Actual patients, real people, are trialing this solution, and with a fair measure of success so far! We’re hoping this next year brings even greater success to this innovative solution.
After a question and answer session with the presenters, another JDRF Type One Nation Summit was complete again. For only covering one day, it sure covered a lot. Special thanks to Greater Chesapeake and Potomac JDRF’s Outreach Coordinator Alex Ade for her tireless work piecing everything together. It really was terrific. Want to hang with your fellow T1Ds and get the most up-to-date information on research, as well as help managing your diabetes even better than ever? If there’s a summit headed your way soon, you can find it HERE. And next time the JDRF Type One Nation Summit happens in my area, I will try to give you plenty of advance notice. You won’t want to miss it!