POSITRACTION: In the footsteps of Jonas Salk



Alabamian with diabetes built her own artificial pancreas, gives away plan for free
Updated May 23, 2017; Posted May 23, 2017
By Lee Roop lroop@al.com 

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Dana Lewis is a good name to remember the next time you hear somebody say Alabama’s mostly good for football and barbecue.

Lewis, a University of Alabama graduate who grew up in Huntsville, used social media, computer skills and mail-order parts to invent an artificial pancreas for people with diabetes. Along with co-inventor and husband Scott Leibrand, she’s now giving her discovery away.

The device is a success – hundreds of people are using it, including Lewis – and it is bringing the young inventors increasing attention. Just this spring, Fast Company put the 28-year-old Lewis on its 2017 list of America’s 100 “most creative people in business.”

Diabetes is caused when the pancreas fails to make the insulin that helps the body turn glucose from sugar and carbohydrates into energy. Without insulin, sugar builds up in the blood stream. With too much insulin, it can fall to dangerously low levels. For diabetics, staying in the safe center is a constant challenge.

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It was December of 2014 when Dana’s system was fully working. “I pretty much knew immediately this is not something I can keep to myself,” she said.

To make and distribute it would violate federal regulations, and to become a company would mean dealing with those regulations. But there is no rule about launching a blueprint on the Internet. “So that’s what we did,” Lewis said, “and that’s why we called it Open APS, which stands for open-sourced pancreas system.”

You can go to openaps.org now and see Lewis’s documentation and her code. You can look at the reference design and decide, in her words, “Do I want to do this?” You can also watch her explain the system further here.

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This demonstrates to me that the Gooferment slows stuff down.

We could have had this device years ago. 

If someone was willing to assume the risk for the reward offered, then why should the Gooferment be in the picture at all?

I wonder what having this device a decade or two earlier might have been.


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