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Endocrinologist Mark O'Connor Awarded Academic Collaboration Prize to Study the Use of Smart Watch Technology to Prevent Dangerous Hypoglycemia

Date Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Endocrinologist Mark O’Connor (center) and Dr. Stephanie Carreiro (far right), a physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine, were presented with the UMass Memorial Medical Group’s Prize for Academic Collaboration and Excellence (PACE) Award.

It supports physicians in cutting-edge research and encourages interdepartmental collaboration. Their project is studying the benefits of using widely available wearable devices such as smart watches, to protect people who are living with diabetes, from dangerous hypoglycemia. 

“Low blood sugar can occur unpredictably and can be life-threatening,” said Dr. O’Connor. “Even when hypoglycemia is less severe, it can still cause significant anxiety and distress, and fear of hypoglycemia can lead to inconsistent medication use, poor glycemic control, and an increased incidence of diabetic complications.”

Wearable biosensors have become increasingly affordable and accessible, creating new avenues for hypoglycemia detection. As blood sugars drop to hypoglycemic levels, people begin to sweat and heart rates change. Both can be measured with smart watch technology.

“Our hypothesis is that the data can be used to detect hypoglycemia before it becomes severe,” said Dr. O’Connor. “We will conduct a pilot study of people with type 1 diabetes who are at risk for hypoglycemia, and create an optimized algorithm for detecting hypoglycemia based on smart watch data.”

The PACE award was presented during UMass Chan Group’s Family Fun Day at Polar Park. The above photo includes (left to right) Shlomit Schaal, MD, PhD, President of UMass Memorial Medical Group, Max Rosen, MD, Department of Radiology Chair, and Lucy Ding, Diabetes Center of Excellence Research Assistant.

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