Guten Tag from the Children with Diabetes team! Last week, a small, but mighty group of CWD staff members grabbed our passports, packed our bags, and headed off to Berlin, Germany for the 16th International Conference on Advanced Technologies and Treatments for Diabetes (ATTD). As your personal tour guide to this event, I’m here to share with you all of the highlights of last week’s amazing activities… from the remarkable exhibit hall to fun flavors of glucose tablets in the local grocery stores to lots of currywurst and wiener schnitzel and everything in between. We’ve been cleared for our take-off, so, please buckle your seat belts…close your tray tables…and let’s get started with one exciting overseas diabetes adventure!
The CWD team traveled from various parts of the USA and made our to the Westin Grand Berlin. This hotel would be our home base for the week. The hotel was a comfortable place for us to meet with industry leaders in the diabetes field and allowed us event space to host two special events during the week, as well. We saw many of our international diabetes Friends for Life at the Westin and often spent time gathering in big cozy chairs in the lobby planning our days together. The hotel staff became an extension of our Friends for Life family abroad and many of them received their very own “CWD Challenge Coins” by the time the week was ending. The hotel was located close to public transportation so we used the train to commute to the ATTD conference daily and quickly learned how to navigate the S-Bahn and the U-Bahn systems in Berlin. As we traveled from the hotel to the train station, we found delightful coffee shops and bakeries with the biggest pretzels, the fluffiest breads, and the crustiest baguettes that I’d ever seen. We eventually found a favorite coffee shop and it became known as “our coffee shop”. “Our coffee shop” was our first stop to the conference each morning as we made our way to the train station and our last stop when returning to the hotel each afternoon.
The ATTD conference was held in a giant convention center called “CityCube” in Berlin. While the surrounding area was mostly deserted, once you approached the area of the convention center, you were greeted with the signs that let you know that you were in the right place … that you were home…even if “home” is in Berlin! There were giant diabetes flags from sponsors and vendors flapping in the cold, February German breeze and large diabetes banners adorning the outside of the building welcoming conference attendees inside to the event, itself. Inside, the event management company offered attendees a much-welcomed “coat check” so that we could offload our heavy winter gear and focus on attending the conference without schlepping around our down-filled jackets and hats, and gloves. After donning our nametags and lanyards for the event, each attendee was given a backpack, a small printed program, and access to the interactive ATTD app for our smartphones. The conference was held on multiple levels of the convention center. Academic sessions were held on the lower two levels. The exhibit hall and snacks were on the upper level.
During the conference, attendees had an opportunity to hear from world-renowned experts in the field of diabetes technology who spoke about advancements and the next level of care coming for patients and individuals living with type 1 diabetes. Much like our Friends for Life conferences, there were many different sessions to choose from during the conference day and you could feel free to move about different sessions if you found yourself in a session that didn’t resonate with you or your interests. One of the things that struck me the most about the agenda for the conference week was the focus on patient-centered care and how many of the faculty members spent time discussing how to help industry leaders, academicians, healthcare professionals, and members of the general public understand how very important it is to involve the person with diabetes in the decision-making process about diabetes care and management. Our ATTD academic sessions ended with an amazing faculty presentation from CWD’s Clinical Director, Marissa Town, titled “What Matters to the Person with Diabetes When Choosing Diabetes Technologies.” And, yes, for those that want to know, people “beep” in Berlin, too! From across the crowded rooms in the CityCube, you could hear the sounds of diabetes all around you from many of the 4,000 attendees. Home, away from home.
Aside from spending time in sessions, we visited with many different sponsors and exhibitors in the Exhibit Hall at the conference. We saw so many of our dedicated sponsors who support Children with Diabetes and our Friends for Life conferences and spent time talking about the fun year ahead with a variety of different events, programs, and conferences already on the books for 2023. We visited with different pump and CGM manufacturers that are only available outside of the USA (for now) so that we could learn more about technologies that exist internationally and learn about what might be coming soon to the USA. We cultivated new relationships with potential sponsors and vendors who have an interest in working with Children with Diabetes who want to reach our families and individuals living with type 1 and hope to bring you new and exciting products and opportunities to learn more about living your best life with diabetes soon!
CWD Events hosted an afternoon advocacy reception for the Diabetes Leadership Council with the hopes of enhancing global advocacy efforts for those fighting for access to affordable health care and access to insulin. This reception brought together over 40 individuals from across the globe to convene on the topic of global advocacy and how we might be able to join forces together to help improve the lives of individuals living with type one. The conversation starts with basic access to medical care and life-saving supplies like insulin and continues all the way to insulin pump coverage, CGM coverage, and beyond.
The highlight of our week was the Children with Diabetes President’s Award for Innovation dinner and celebration honoring Dr. Irl Hirsch. This award is given to a healthcare professional that exemplifies extraordinary leadership in using innovation and advancements of technology for insulin delivery and devices that help people with diabetes live a normal life. We were thrilled to celebrate with our Friend for Life, Dr. Hirsh, and are so thankful for his contributions to the lives of people with diabetes across the globe.
Whew! What a journey we’ve been on together this week! From currywurst to magnesium glucose tabs…from Coca-Cola Light to Reisling and pilsner … and everywhere in between … the CWD team hopes that you’ve enjoyed your travels with us to ATTD 2023. We can’t wait to take you with us on our next adventure!
Bis Später, Germany!
Green and orange forever,
Written by Leigh Fickling, JD, MEd, MS