MBA diary: tackling the diabetes epidemic – Stefany Shaheen

Stefany Shaheen, EMBA ’18

From The Economist

My entrepreneurial journey began on a chilly January morning in 2008, not long after my daughter, Elle, was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes. She and I were in the kitchen of our New Hampshire home getting ready for breakfast. Elle, who was eight at the time and the eldest of four children, reached into the cupboard and picked out a box of Cheerios and a bowl. I handed her a measuring cup, calculator and notepad.

The realities of living with type-1 diabetes—a chronic, autoimmune disease that destroys the body’s ability to make insulin—were just starting to sink in. Fixing a bowl of cereal was no longer a simple process; it was maths problem. Together, we needed to figure out the amount of carbohydrates in the cereal and milk and then determine how much insulin Elle would need to inject to turn that food into fuel. We also needed to keep track of the food she was eating along with her physical activity and blood sugar levels to avoid dangerous high and low blood sugars. Having blood sugar that is either too high or too low can cause serious complications and could lead to death.

Elle and I got to work but she soon became frustrated. She threw the cereal box across the room; Cheerios flew everywhere. “Why does this have to be so hard?” she asked me through muffled tears.

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Using analytics to manage diabetes – Allison O’Hair

MIT Sloan Lecturer Allison O'Hair

MIT Sloan Lecturer Allison O’Hair

What do data, analytics, and optimization have to do with diabetes? I believe they have a great deal to do with each other. These operations research tools may be the key to solving this major health crisis.

First, let’s examine the problem:

– About 25.8 million people in the U.S. – or 8.3% of the population – have diabetes today.

– By 2050, it’s projected that one in three U.S. adults could have it.

– In 2010, 285 million people worldwide had diabetes, with that number projected to increase to 438 million by 2030.

– If not controlled, diabetes can cause serious complications, such as heart disease, kidney disease, blindness and amputation.

– Diabetes cost the U.S. $245 billion in 2012 alone Read More »