Mechanical Engineering Professor Receives $1.6 Million “Visionary Award” for Diabetes Research
Dr. Sumita Pennathur, an associate professor in UCSB’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, has received the prestigious “Visionary Award” from the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The award includes $1.625 million to support her research for five years.
Pennathur is one of only two scientists nationwide to receive the ADA Visionary Award in 2017. The award recognizes established scientists from various disciplines who are applying their expertise to diabetes research for the first time. Pennathur has proposed to address one of the most fundamental engineering challenges for diabetes monitoring: continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). Efficiently measuring glucose levels is vital for patients with diabetes to manage their disease effectively. Normally, the human body monitors its own blood glucose levels: the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin, which determines how and where glucose is absorbed. In the body of a diabetic, however, this feedback loop is broken. Both CGM and insulin administration must be outsourced to needles, pumps, and sensors.
More than several hundred attempts have been made to develop a technique for continuous blood glucose monitoring, but only a couple of them have received FDA approval. The CGM devices currently on the market — subcutaneous needles that normally stay in the body for about a week — are problematic, because they need to be calibrated twice daily and can give inaccurate readings. Pennathur has proposed to develop a painless, minimally invasive, accurate, disposable “patch” to alleviate those problems. If successful, t Continue reading