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NSF Grant to Fund Smartphone App for Diabetes Control

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A business and engineering team from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts has received a $1.2 million grant to develop a smartphone application for people with advanced cases of diabetes. The project, funded by the National Science Foundation, is a collaboration between Worcester’s Healthcare Delivery Institute and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, also in Worcester.

The proposed smartphone app is expected to be integrated with a wireless personal glucose meter and scale, to track and archive blood sugar levels and weight. The app would also use the phone’s camera to capture and analyze images of foot ulcers, which are potentially dangerous lesions that affect people with advanced, uncontrolled diabetes.

The developers plan to give the app embedded data and algorithms drawn from clinical experience to prompt patients with specific messages based on their weight and blood sugar readings over time. The app is also expected to track the progress of a patient’s foot ulcers, which are often caused by neuropathy and reduced circulation to the extremities, common complications of advanced diabetes.

The Worcester team will be led by Diane Strong and Bengisu Tulu,who are authorities on health information technology in Worcester’s business school. Emmanuel Agu of Worcester’s computer science department is expected to lead the software team, and engineering professor Peder Pedersen will lead the image processing part of the project.

The plans to devote the first two years of the project to technology research and development, leading to a prototype system. If the development phase proceeds as planned, the second two years of the project are expected to test the new application in a clinical trial at the UMass Medical School.

Read more: Illinois Chemists Extend Functions of Glucose Meters

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