November is Diabetes Awareness Month and two sisters come together to research scientific solutions to manage the diagnosis.
15-year-old Katherine isn’t just any freshman at NSU University School, she designed an artificial pancreas.
The creation earned its second place at his school’s science fair in the biomedical engineering category in Broward County.
She was inspired by her younger sister, Sophia, who was diagnosed with type I diabetes in January 2020.
âSince my sister was diagnosed, I knew I had to do a project based on her diagnosis not only to educate my sister and my family, but also to educate others like newly diagnosed type I diabetics. So that was the inspiration for my project, “said Catherine.
After seeing her sister prick herself to check her blood sugar, Katherine thought there had to be a better way.
To create the artificial pancreas, she worked closely with her school’s robotics team to build the breadboard circuit, then tested her hypothesis using her sister’s blood sugar as a guide.
âI discovered that the artificial pancreas system was able to keep blood sugar levels in range compared to regular insulin injections,â Katherine said. “He was able to keep it in the range for two more hours, which is very important for diabetics to have their sugar within reach without those fluctuating highs and lows.”
Sophia, 13, who was dealing with the ups and downs of her diagnosis, was touched by her sister’s support.
âI was so proud that my sister wanted to protect me that I was really moved and happy for her,â Sophia said.
Dr Robin Nemery, who treats Sophia at the Joe DiMagggio Children’s Hospital, has been thrilled with Katherine’s results as cases of diabetes have increased during the pandemic.
âNationally, we have seen an increase in type I diabetes. Is it because of the Covid? We can’t really say, “said Dr Nemery, head of pediatric endocrinology at Joe DiMaggio.” What we can say is that statistics have shown that there has been a doubling of diabetes from type II during the Covid pandemic, which is directly linked to children staying at home, eating more and gaining a lot of weight. “
Katherine hopes her research can encourage others to pursue careers in STEM and help treat patients like her sister in the future.
âIt’s important that we recognize what type I diabetes is and that we just educate these patients so that we are with them and that we just have to help them and understand their situation,â Katherine said.
âI hope she thinks about a career in medicine or biomedical engineering because I think she has a great mind to do it and I love that she did everything for her sister,â said Dr. Nemery.