JDRF-funded program at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation establishes open communication standards to enhance diabetes management and accelerate artificial pancreas research

Toronto (Dec. 15, 2014) - JDRF and the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation at the University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto announced publication of interoperability standards for diabetes devices. The work is the result of JDRF Canadian Clinical Trial Network (JDRF CCTN) funding to Dr. Joseph Cafazzo at UHN to pilot the development of standard communication protocols that define how diabetes devices, such as insulin pumps, blood glucose meters, and continuous glucose monitors, communicate with one another and with other devices.

Until now, proprietary communications systems developed by major manufacturers made it difficult for researchers to build upon existing technologies, particularly across different platforms. These proprietary systems have also limited possible innovation from others considering development of artificial pancreas systems and new diabetes data management tools.

The newly published standards set a definition of communication between continuous glucose monitor devices and their linked managers, such as personal smartphones and computers. The goal is to enable interoperability by establishing consistent data protocols and universal understanding of device data. This in turn is anticipated to accelerate research and development in the area of the artificial pancreas systems and impact how patients use diabetes technology for years to come.

"This is a long-awaited milestone for manufacturers, researchers, and for people with diabetes," said Dr. Cafazzo, principal investigator of the JDRF CCTN-funded project. "There are now defined, open standards where previously none was available. This will ultimately accelerate the ability of companies to produce new technologies for the improved management of diabetes and for developing artificial pancreas systems."

"This project was supported by JDRF to accelerate the development of artificial pancreas systems, which have the potential to transform the management of type 1 diabetes," said Aaron J. Kowalski, Ph.D., vice president of JDRF Artificial Pancreas Research. "Artificial pancreas systems require effective communication among pumps, sensors, and controllers, so we a very happy to at last have standard communications protocols in place. Now, there is one less hurdle facing the development and commercialization of artificial pancreas systems and bringing these systems to people living with type 1 diabetes."

The group at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation collaborated with key stakeholders from industry, academia, and healthcare providers to develop the interoperability standards within the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE) Personal Health Devices Working Group. The new standards also work with the Bluetooth Special Interest Group Profile for Continuous Glucose Monitoring to ensure that the device data can also be transmitted to medical records databases in clinics.

Biomedical engineers Nathaniel Hamming and Melanie Yeung of the University Health Network made key contributions towards the development of the communication standards. Mr. Hamming served as Vice Chair in the development of the CGM standards (IEEE-11073-10425), and both members contributed to the publication of optimized exchange protocol (IEEE-11073-20601). The standards have been reviewed and approved by the IEEE Personal Health Devices Working Group.

As a next step, JDRF is partnering with the Helmsley Charitable Trust to fund a project to promote the adoption of the new communications standards by diabetes device manufacturers. The goal of the new effort is to accelerate the development of fully interoperable diabetes technologies for use in artificial pancreas systems. This initiative is part of the broader JDRF/Helmsley collaboration to fund the creation and enhancement of technology that supports automating insulin delivery.

Read the ISO/IEEE 11073 publications here:


The JDRF Canadian Clinical Trial Network (CCTN) is a network of researchers and institutions collaborating on type 1 diabetes research to accelerate delivery of the benefits of research advances to the community. At present, the initiative includes over 20 institutions acting as CCTN clinical research partners, who collaborate within Canada and also with international partners. JDRF CCTN began as a public-private partnership including JDRF International, JDRF-Canada and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, an agency of the Government of Canada. For more information, please visit cctn.jdrf.ca and http://www.jdrf.ca.

About JDRF

JDRF is the leading global organization focused on type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. JDRF's goal is to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people's lives until we achieve a world without T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners and is the only organization with the scientific resources, regulatory influence and a working plan to bring life-changing therapies from the lab to the community. As the largest charitable supporter of T1D research, JDRF is currently sponsoring $568 million in charitable research in 17 countries. For more information, please visit www.jdrf.org and www.jdrf.ca.

About University Health Network

University Health Network consists of Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospitals, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. The scope of research and complexity of cases at University Health Network has made it a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care. It has the largest hospital-based research program in Canada, with major research in cardiology, transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, surgical innovation, infectious diseases, genomic medicine and rehabilitation medicine. University Health Network is a research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto.

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