After 10 years of serving patients as chief medical officer for the Diabetes Group at Medtronic, last week I announced that I am retiring from the company at the end of the calendar year.
This was truly a bittersweet decision for me. It has been an absolute privilege to be part of the team that developed and brought patients the most advanced diabetes therapy in the world. There are now over a hundred thousand patients benefiting from this technology. Helping to make the vision of a hybrid closed loop system a reality is truly one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. But what I’m most proud of is the incredible team who I’ve had the pleasure of working with here at Medtronic. I have always been impressed by the passion and dedication of our teams who work relentlessly to improve the lives of people living with diabetes. Driven by our Mission, we have made significant progress to get to where we are today. Now, the team here at Medtronic will carry that torch forward with an immense responsibility to the patients we serve. I have no doubt that the future will be even more exciting knowing what I know about the people who power this fantastic company.
When I began my career in pediatrics more than 40 years ago, I saw diabetes affect children’s health and well-being, and watched their life expectancy reduce as a result of the disease. Children had episodes of very high and very low glucose levels that required hospitalization and could result in coma, seizures and death – and led to long-term complications such as blindness, amputations and kidney failure. Throughout my career in medicine, I have worked tirelessly to develop strategies to improve the outcomes of people with diabetes. I have investigated diabetes technologies, diabetes prevention strategies, and long-term diabetes outcomes. And, I have been fortunate enough to have been able to influence diabetes practice guidelines.
Medtronic has pioneered and advanced many of the tools that we use to treat diabetes today, including continuous glucose monitoring systems and insulin pumps. As a pediatric endocrinologist, I have seen the medical consequences of uncontrolled diabetes and using these new therapies allowed the children I care for at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles to achieve markedly improved glucose control and — for the most part — avoid the short and long-term complications of this disease.
I joined Medtronic in 2009, drawn to the project that was going to combine an insulin pump, a continuous glucose monitor, and a control algorithm to automatically deliver basal insulin to people with type 1 diabetes. I wanted to be part of the team that delivered major leaps forward in diabetes management, and which promised to improve health and reduce the burden of managing diabetes. I believe we have delivered on those promises, and I feel so blessed that my work here has allowed me to make an impact on an even greater number of people who are living with diabetes. When we received FDA approval — and subsequent pediatric indication — for the MiniMed™ 670G system , it truly felt like a personal triumph! I was so happy for the patients who would benefit from this therapy, knowing it will help alleviate some of the burden associated with managing this unrelenting disease. And the impact it will make on the lives of families with younger children is significant; they will be able to rest easier knowing this first-of-its kind automated system will take care of their loved ones throughout the day and night.
My career has spanned basic clinical and public health research, allowing me to mentor hundreds of students, trainees and junior faculty. I have also had the most incredible opportunity to use my skills as a pediatric endocrinologist in philanthropy efforts around the world. Since coming to Medtronic, I have established a diabetes camp in Haiti, which has run at full capacity for 7 years. This April, I traveled to Ethiopia with the non-profit group, Life for a Child . I taught diabetes management in multiple clinics in the north of the country where diabetes in children is becoming more and more prevalent.
For personal reasons I am retiring from Medtronic with the hopes to stay involved in the world of diabetes and to do more philanthropic work. It will also give me the opportunity to spend more time with my family, which will be my priority over the next few months given some recent events that have reinforced the importance of dedicating my time to them. I am truly proud of the legacy I leave behind at Medtronic. I look forward to seeing the future therapies that are currently in the pipeline commercialized over the coming years, and I will continue to celebrate those advancements with you. You can be sure that I will always be cheering you on. Rest assured, I will continue to be an active member of the diabetes community and hope to continue making personal and professional contributions in a variety of capacities. I’ve never been one to sit still for too long!
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION:
The Medtronic MiniMed™ 670G system is intended for continuous delivery of basal insulin (at user selectable rates) and administration of insulin boluses (in user selectable amounts) for the management of type 1 diabetes mellitus in persons, seven years of age and older, requiring insulin as well as for the continuous monitoring and trending of glucose levels in the fluid under the skin. The MiniMed™ 670G system includes SmartGuard™ technology, which can be programmed to automatically adjust delivery of basal insulin based on Continuous Glucose Monitor sensor glucose values and can suspend delivery of insulin when the sensor glucose value falls below or is predicted to fall below predefined threshold values. The system requires a prescription. The Guardian™ Sensor (3) glucose values are not intended to be used directly for making therapy adjustments, but rather to provide an indication of when a fingerstick may be required. A confirmatory finger stick test via the CONTOUR®NEXT LINK 2.4 blood glucose meter is required prior to making adjustments to diabetes therapy. All therapy adjustments should be based on measurements obtained using the CONTOUR®NEXT LINK 2.4 blood glucose meter and not on values provided by the Guardian™ Sensor (3). Always check the pump display to ensure the glucose result shown agrees with the glucose results shown on the CONTOUR®NEXT LINK 2.4 blood glucose meter. Do not calibrate your CGM device or calculate a bolus using a blood glucose meter result taken from an Alternative Site (palm) or from a control solution test. It is not recommended to calibrate your CGM device when sensor or blood glucose values are changing rapidly, e.g., following a meal or physical exercise. If a control solution test is out of range, please note that the result may be transmitted to your pump when in the “Always” send mode.
WARNING: Medtronic performed an evaluation of the MiniMed™ 670G system and determined that it may not be safe for use in children under the age of 7 because of the way that the system is designed and the daily insulin requirements. Therefore this device should not be used in anyone under the age of 7 years old. This device should also not be used in patients who require less than a total daily insulin dose of 8 units per day because the device requires a minimum of 8 units per day to operate safely. Pump therapy is not recommended for people whose vision or hearing does not allow recognition of pump signals and alarms.
Pump therapy is not recommended for people who are unwilling or unable to maintain contact with their healthcare professional. The safety of the MiniMed™ 670G system has not been studied in pregnant women. For complete details of the system, including product and important safety information such as indications, contraindications, warnings and precautions associated with system and its components, please consult http://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/important-safety-information#minimed-670g  and the appropriate user guide at http://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/download-library