I completed Phase 1 of the artificial pancreas project a few weeks ago! Phase 1 lasted 10 weeks and involved wearing a Dexcom 7 and an OmniPod, and logging certain information in the OmniPod at least four times per day (more on that below).
The study started with a visit to UVA, where the study coordinator drew blood for an A1c and pregnancy test (study participants are not eligible if they're pregnant). Then, I had to complete a LONG questionnaire that took almost 45 minutes to complete. It asked questions about how I viewed my Type 1 in general, what kind of personality I have (am I a leader or follower / do I crave attention / how detail-oriented am I / am I a really organized person, etc.), plus how much control do I think I have over my Type 1. Really interesting stuff. The questionnaire asked me to rate the degree to which, if I ended up never having complications, would I think it was the result of good luck or good control, or some combination of both? And how much control did I think I had over other things, like DKA, lows, or occasionally outlying bg numbers.
The purpose of the study, according to the consent form I signed, was to assess to what extent the artificial pancreas could be incorporated into a real human being's life. For this reason, with all the data they would get from the OmniPod and Dexcom, they would be looking at things like whether I wake up and fall asleep at the same times every day, whether I eat about the same amount of carbs and engage in the same amount of activity every day, etc. I'm glad they're studying that, because I think it's been a really important aspect of my bg control.
At the first visit, they also started me on a Dexcom, and taught me how to use it. The purpose of the first week was just to get used to wearing and using the Dexcom. After one week of using it, I took it out and started wearing the OmniPod, since it was new to me, too (I'm a long-time Minimed pumper). I learned how to "tag" certain bolus entries in the OmniPod, because one of the requirements was to log what my activity level had been in the past hour (the choices were minimal, light, moderate, and strenuous), and what type of food (if any) I was about to eat or had just eaten (if I remember correctly, the choices were not eating, pre- or post-meal low-fat, pre- or post-meal high-fat, and pre- or post-meal dine out). After the Dexcom-only week and the OmniPod-only week, I started wearing them both, and recording the necessary info in the OmniPod. Then, I visited UVA every other week to pick up supplies and to give them both the OmniPod and Dexcom for a few minutes, so they could download my data.
The study ended with participating in a focus group, which was SO interesting. I think there were about 8 of us in the group, and all of us had had T1 for at least 10 years (most of us had had it for about 25 years). A psychologist asked us questions and a research assistant took notes. The questions ranged from questions about the study in general (like how easy did we think it was to use the tags they'd set up) to questions about how we treated our T1. The psychologist asked at what number did we treat a low, how often did we use a dual-wave bolus for correcting and for meal boluses, etc., etc. The questions really ran the gamut. She also explained that the researchers were looking at creating a closed-loop system that would first function as a "glucose advisory system," in which the "artificial pancreas" just makes suggestions all day, and then waits for you to act on the suggestions. The psychologist asked us to fill out a form asking whether, in using such a glucose-advisory system, we'd be willing to go for a period in which we ate pretty much the same things every day, exercised the same amount (if at all), and kept the same routine as far as waking up and going to bed, etc.
The study paid $250 total, and you got to keep the OmniPod. But the biggest payment, in my opinion, was helping create this artificial pancreas. I am really a fan of it. I know that it might be controversial, because a lot of people with D are ready for a cure, not just another gadget. But let's face it-- without upgraded gadgets, we would still be checking our sugar with urine tests, and we'd have no pumps! So I'm all for the development of new technology while we wait for a cure.
Next, I'm on to Phase 2 of the study. This will involve a 24-hour hospital stay at UVA. I'll post an update after I'm done with that one!
Please let me know if you are interested in participating in this study! I know they are still seeking participants, and I can give you the name and contact info for the study coordinator.