Today, Katarina, one of the most charming #WomenInScience will tell us a bit about herself and her ambitions.
Hi! I am Katarina, MD and researcher at Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany, and living with T1D for 19+ years.
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a kid, and have always been an early adopter when it comes to new technologies – I was one of the first Paediatric patients with an insulin pump at the time. Later, when CGM was introduced to the market, it was all I asked my parents for as birthday and Christmas presents. When I first read about Looping in 2017, I knew immediately that I had to try it, but also that I want to contribute to further improve it. DIY Looping has certainly turned my world upside down (in the best way possible).
“Do-it-Yourself” is not “Do-it-Alone”
The diabetes online community has helped me to deal with my own diagnosis and has turned life with diabetes into something beautiful and meaningful. Meeting knowledgeable and committed people with T1D all over the world has inspired me to become a diabetes advocate, and has ultimately influenced my decision turn my passion into profession and become a Paediatric Endocrinologist and diabetes researcher. Still in my teenage years, I started to produce educational material online and create a space for young people with T1D to connect online. Later on, I joined the “IDF Young Leaders in Diabetes” programme, where I have also met Shane O’Donnell, who is now coordinator of the OPEN project. Ever since I started as a volunteer in diabetes advocacy, my urge to make the world a better place for people with diabetes just never stopped, and over time the diabetes community has become my family.
Making technology accessible and applicable
Making both, healthcare and technology, more accessible and applicable is another thing I am passionate about. As co-chair of the Berlin chapter of the NGO Hacking Health, I organize hackathons and workshops with the mission to break down barriers, prototype patient-centric solutions and generate lasting impact in healthcare.
Whenever I am not researching or advocating, I am most likely to travel the world, which is my favourite way of unplugging from our busy and connected lives once in a while. My favourite visits so far were rail travels and road trips through Georgia, Iran, Oman, Japan, South Africa, Canada, and California – just to name a few.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
As part of the OPEN team, I am co-leading the medical team together with Prof. Raile, and hope our research can lead to a better understanding of safety and efficacy of DIY artificial pancreas systems, and am investigating how closed-loop systems still need to be alterated and improved for certain user groups. The #WeAreNotWaiting movement is a great chance for academia and industry to learn from the diabetes community and to translate it into their own work without the constraints of clinical trials. As many OPEN team members are both, researchers working in academia, and T1Ds using a DIY artificial pancreas, I hope our project can help facilitate that dialogue.
Thank you very much for sharing major parts of your life with us, Katarina. The OPEN team is very happy and proud to have you with us and to be inspired by your ambitions!