Random Observations from the ADA Scientific Sessions


  1. IMG_1102The Diabetes Online Community is incredible, but there’s nothing like being immersed in a physical diabetes community for a weekend.
  2. Okay, Medtronic, we get it. You want to own the news cycle of the conference. No need to release press releases right at 9:00 a.m. on the Friday of the conference.
  3. By the way, Medtronic has decided it wants to make a big splash in cloud-based blood glucose sharing. Your move, Dexcom?
  4. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) asked people to wear red for “STOP Diabetes Day.” Because the fact that we’re at the conference isn’t enough.
  5. Funny, red is also the ADA color.
  6. IMG_1139Isn’t blue the color of World Diabetes Day anyway?
  7. Remember when there was just the rumor of an artificial pancreas project? Now, there are so many artificial pancreas studies underway that it was hard to keep track of the results reported at the conference.
  8. Not much mention of Bigfoot, or the DIY diabetes device hacking movement at the conference.
  9. Wouldn’t it be awesome if future ADA conferences included a device hack-a-thon?
  10. Thanks to nametags, conferences are one of the only times when it is socially acceptable to stare at someone’s chest as you approach.
  11. IMG_1122Reporters ate well, but only if they showed up early for the diabetes-friendly fare.
  12. Coffee kept running out in the press room, however. Hard for jetlagged reporters.
  13. Some drug and device companies did the equivalent of manspreading at the convention, with ostentatious booths that seemed to dominate the floor.
  14. The poster hall felt for all the world like a hyped-up science fair. Same giddiness and promise.
  15. Kudos to Sanofi for offering free discs/drives of every poster in the hall.
  16. Heard from a bunch of people that they couldn’t attend the actual scientific sessions because they were too busy in side meetings. What is the name of the conference again?
  17. Most-watched moment of sharp (but polite) disagreement was when two artificial pancreas advocates debated whether the artificial pancreas should be insulin-only or insulin and glucagon combined.
  18. Some presenting scientists seemed to visibly stiffen when they heard the words, “We will now open up the session to questions.”
  19. Some had good reason to stiffen. There were some pretty harsh questions, as well as some shoddy study work presented.
  20. Don’t snippily say, “Excuse me,” when a moderator tries to cut off your line of unnecessary questioning.
  21. Best zinger statement overheard during the Q&A sessions – “This is the kind of thing that statisticians cringe at.” Ouch.
  22. Low point of the scientific sessions I saw – when a meter maker decided to include an ad in a presentation.
  23. The energy of the room at the artificial pancreas panel discussion with Ed Damiano and JDRF’s Aaron Kowalski was that of a rock concert, only way more polite and much less drunk.
  24. That’s okay, reporters don’t need wireless internet. It’s just fine for it not to work. All weekend.
  25. IMG_1103The no photography rule at the sessions was silly. Especially since few people followed it. Don’t they know that reporters need boring, blurry shots of people standing at podiums to illustrate their stories?
  26. Yes, I know that rule is there because of unpublished work, but isn’t the ADA offering webcasts of the sessions online this month anyway?
  27. Coffee and yogurt were the preferred bribes at booths to get you to learn more about products.
  28. Saw one booth offering just plain Hershey’s Nuggets. Not much traffic.
  29. You know what’s not a good way to put your company in a flattering light? Kicking someone out of your company’s booth seat so you can talk to a reporter.
  30. Everyone has jumped onboard to the idea that blood glucose data and trends must be readily accessible and shareable in the cloud.
  31. Innovators are just starting to argue that raw data isn’t enough.
  32. Heard a lot of Spanish spoken in the hallways of the conference.
  33. Not much discussion at forums of how to reach Spanish-speakers, however.
  34. Drug companies do not hold an event for the press without wanting something in return.
  35. Dear drug company, don’t make it so obvious that you want some kind of quid pro quo deal, though.
  36. No, actually, go ahead and make it obvious. Makes my job easier.
  37. Contrary note sounded in a conference focused on devices and new treatments, when one scientist argued none of it replaces hands-on care in stopping hypoglycemia.
  38. Smiling and handing out goody bags for drug companies seems like a thankless job.
  39. IMG_1132Loved the ADA’s competition to see who could walk the most steps during the conference weekend.
  40. Have to wonder if the winner was the most busy at the conference or got very lost in Boston’s waterfront district.
  41. Catchiest title for a scientific session – “Fifty Shades of Beige.” No idea what the talk was about.
  42. Sometimes you could enter the hall for the ground-floor booths on the ground floor; other times you had to go up to the second floor and take an escalator down. Um….
  43. Not overheard at the conference – “Can you eat that?”
  44. IMG_1129Iron Man was shilling for Siemens at a booth. There was even a comic about a child who learns she has diabetes while Iron Man fights Aquaduct, Aqua Dude, Aquaman, whoever.
  45. Having a conflict-of-interest slide in your presentation is a great idea.
  46. But how about slowing down so we could actually read the slide?
  47. Quote that best proves Type 1 care needs to be individualized – “Some 6- or 7-year-olds might be mature enough to do their own care, but some 14-year-olds might not be.”
  48. Device makers want to make artificial pancreases for adults first. The FDA wants kids first in line.
  49. You can hear artificial pancreas advocates start to caution an artificial pancreas won’t solve everything.
  50. Or be for everyone.
  51. Even when there is groundbreaking research to be heard, your brain can only cram in so much before it shuts down.
  52. So glad the conference weekend is over.
  53. I miss the conference.

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Craig Idlebrook is a past editor for Insulin Nation, Type 2 Nation, and Información Sobre Diabetes. He is now the community engagement and content manager for T1D Exchange.

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