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Monday 21 November 2022 9:59am

Dr Alisa Boucsein image.JPG
Dr Alisa Boucsein from the Department of Women's and Children's Health, Dunedin School of Medicine.

When Dr Alisa Boucsein advocates for better access to “life-changing technology” for diabetes patients, she really knows what she's talking about.

Diabetes has been a huge part of Dr Boucsein's life, both personally and professionally.

Dr Boucsein was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a 13-year-old living in Germany. Her PhD focused on type 2 diabetes and she is now a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Dunedin School of Medicine's Department of Women's and Children's Health, researching new technologies in type 1 diabetes management.

This year, Dr Boucsein moved to an automated insulin delivery system which constantly monitors her blood glucose levels and has transformed her diabetes management.

“I no longer have to worry constantly about my blood glucose levels, it's like a huge weight off my shoulders,” Dr Boucsein says.

While automated insulin delivery (AID) systems are available in Aotearoa New Zealand, the critical component - a continuous glucose monitoring sensor - is not Government funded, making it out of reach for many. Dr Boucsein is paying $5,500 a year for the sensor, a sum she knows many families can't afford.

The sensor is placed on the skin and senses changes in glucose, allowing an insulin pump with a complex algorithm to adjust the insulin response.

This AID system has big advantages. People using it no longer need to prick their finger several times a day to test blood glucose levels or carry around insulin injectors and food.

“This new technology has huge benefits. Patients are less likely to have the big variations in their blood glucose levels and that keeps them healthier and safer,” Dr Boucsein says.

“Anything that helps reduce the likelihood of long-term complications like eye and kidney disease, and the increased risk of a heart attack or stroke, should be available to everyone who needs it.”

This is a message that will be made very clear at a symposium being held in November to celebrate the many lives that have been saved since the first person with diabetes received insulin treatment 100 years ago.

'Transforming Lives: 100 years of insulin' will focus on new technologies that help in the management of diabetes, and why these devices should be accessible for all who need them in New Zealand. 

The University of Otago's Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research Centre, along with the Healthier Lives - He Oranga Hauora National Science Challenge, Diabetes New Zealand and Lions NZ District 202F, is holding this free, half-day symposium in Wellington on Thursday, 24 November. People can attend in person, view the event online via a livestream or watch recordings of the presentations online following the event.

Visit for more details.

 -  Kōrero by Andrea Jones, Team Leader, Divisional Communications

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