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Derek Brandt & Diabetes Center Berne

Derek Brandt is a person with type 1 diabetes, entrepreneur, CEO of Global Center for Technology Innovation in Diabetes aka Diabetes Center Berne (DCB), an investment committee member of the Swiss Diabetes Venture Fund & more.

We explore how he is supporting startups and running trials that are changing how we manage diabetes.

2:26 Having diabetes seems to have paid off for you… making lemonade from lemons…
Are you grateful for the diagnosis in hindsight?

“Not sure if I am grateful that I have type 1 diabetes. But it helped me in University, I focused on pharmacology and similar sciences to help me understand insulin secretion. It also helps when you work in the (diabetes technology) industry because you have a completely different view of things.
I live with diabetes, but this does not dictate my daily life.”

5:05 When were you diagnosed (with Type 1 Diabetes)?

“I was diagnosed just after finishing school and starting University … and it was after having an infection.”

6:09 The transition from scientist to entrepreneur/businessman…
How did that come about?

“I met my wife when I was studying… and after passing pharmacology, she said; that’s enough university, it’s time to make some money. So I funded my first company, which was a clinical research organization. We grew the company to 150 staff and did 200 studies, testing drugs for big pharmaceutical companies.”

9:00 The origins of the Diabetes Center Berne? What does Diabetes Center Berne do?

“Diabetes Center Berne is a nonprofit organization, which investigates and funds innovative diabetes technology. Assisting startups through grants, coaching support, networking, and a clinical team to run trails to assist with registration purposes.  The whole organization is designed to support innovators that can improve the lives of people with diabetes.”

12:07 What do/don’t you love about the work that you do for Diabetes Center Berne?

“(I love what I do), but after seeing over 200 noninvasive blood glucose technology (products and now they are coming back to us saying they are) using old technology but now using AI. But if the underlying technology and the science doesn’t work then the AI doesn’t really help. 

13:00 A good example – a small company from Finland 
15:27 Another project from the research side – using car eye sensors

… I really like these projects. It is so inspiring to do this work and hopefully in the future – in different fields of diabetes – we have features that help in daily life.”

18:15 How do we make large-scale behavioral changes?

“I’m not sure if we should work too much on the behavioral changes of people living with diabetes. They have to make a lot of decisions every day to (survive), so telling people how to behave (isn’t the solution) but to give people better tools and supporting tools to help people to live their normal life.”

21:10 Is AI helping people with diabetes?

“AI only works with a lot of data. The first thing is how will we collect the data and merge data from multiple technologies, such as; glucose, insulin, activities, heart rate, habits, and lifestyle … Then how will we use it…

However, AI isn’t always the answer…
23:00 Example 1. Auto-mode driving
24:10 Example 2. Life is unpredictable

AI only works in 95%-98% of cases. You need to be in the driving seat for that 2%.
Therefore, you still have to learn how to manage diabetes, AI isn’t a 100% management solution.”

26:10 What does a cure for diabetes look like for you?

“As a person with diabetes, I would love to see a cure.
Implant a cube with genetically modified islet cells that can produce insulin that can automatically manage blood glucose. They are currently testing transplants and islet cells but you need to take immune suppressant drugs so the body doesn’t kill off foreign islet cells. There are (currently) much more side effects in taking these suppressants than self-managing insulin. I would rather take insulin 5-6 times every day, before taking immune-system suppressants.”

28:39 Future of diabetes technology

“(Recently) it has been proven you can test glucose at the same spot as you (administer) insulin. So in the future, we will see the merging of glucose and insulin pump technology in one device, at one location.”

A very big thank you to Derek Brandt for taking the time to answer our questions and for everything he does, that is improving our lives.

Learn more about Diabetes Center Berne:


See the full video on YouTube:

Listen to the full podcast:–Diabetes-Innovation-e26mdnb