Matthew Connor, an undergraduate, devised a better way for tracking diabetes after watching diabetic friends and family members struggle to keep track of their food consumption, blood sugar and insulin intake. He recognised the application of phones and mobiles. Additionally he felt that phones are tiny computers that can store information and connect to the Internet. With that in mind, Connor, a rising Princeton junior majoring in operations research and financial engineering, worked with his brother Michael, a 2007 graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, to develop an iPhone application to help diabetics manage their disease. Now, Connor has been awarded a $100,000 grant to expand their initial application into a Web-based tool to help diabetics stay healthy, and make it easier for doctors to monitor diabetic patients and for researchers to study treatments for the disease.
After winning second place in the Prize for Primary Healthcare competition from the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT), a nonprofit consortium of Boston teaching hospitals and engineering schools that fosters interdisciplinary collaboration to rapidly improve patient care, Connor was overwhelmed. The prize was made available through the Gelfand Family Charitable Trust, which will support the annual award for five years. Connor was the only undergraduate to win funding in the competition, which sought to support effective medical technologies that rapidly could be put into use. The funding will enable Connor to expand his program, dubbed Islet, to feed the data from the phones to a remote database that can be accessed through the Internet. This will allow Islet users to access their health data from any computer that is connected to the Internet and allow doctors to access the records and use them to help patients manage their diabetes. He won for proposing the iAbetics Web 2.0 Diabetes Management System, a website that will interact with the iPhone application he and his brother developed. He intends to use mathematical concepts he has learned as an engineering student to provide statistical tools to analyze the data for important trends and clues to treating and managing diabetes. He hopes to build a trial version of the system by the end of the year and to launch a fully functional version within a year’s time. Meanwhile, the Islet is still available through iTunes.