New Jersey Institute of Technology Professor Receives Grant to Combat Diabetes

NEWARK, Jan. 10--A team of researchers lead by Gordon Thomas, New Jersey Institute of Technology distinguished professor of physics and biomedical engineering, was awarded a $75,000 grant from the Pfeiffer Research Foundation to build a device that will help diabetics better manage their disease.

The team includes Richard Greene, Becton-Dickinson professor of biomedical engineering, and Robert Fechtner, director of glaucoma division at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School.

The device will make it easier for diabetics to test their glucose levels and thus help prevent vision loss, renal disease and neurological damage. Acting as an artificial pancreas, the device will measure the patient's glucose levels in eye fluid and trigger the release of insulin from a pump. The device, implanted in eyeglass frames, will eliminate the need for painful finger sticks.

Diabetics must now prick their fingers and place a drop of blood in a glucometer; it reads their glucose level and tells them how much insulin to take -- either by injection or pump. Diabetics do this up to five times a day.

"I'm excited that the Pfeiffer Foundation will work with us to help people with diabetes," Thomas says. "Our dream is to let a diabetes's patient measure his or her blood sugar level without turning the body into a pincushion."

In Type 1 diabetes -- formerly called juvenile diabetes, the pancreas fails to produce the hormone, insulin. That causes a harmful rise in glucose, which is normally regulated by insulin.

Recent studies have shown that keeping blood glucose close to normal prevents eye, kidney and neurological complications of diabetes. But maintaining normal blood glucose levels is difficult for most patients. They must constantly prick and dose themselves with insulin injections without overshooting; overdosing produces dangerously low glucose levels associated with dizziness, coma and even death. The team will build into the device a mechanism that will alert the patient to any malfunction.

The device will also help many of the 16 million, Type 2 diabetic patients who are resistant to the action of insulin. It will allow these patients to better maintain their blood glucose levels by monitoring the glucose levels in eye.


NJIT is a public, scientific and technological research university enrolling more than 8,800 students. The university offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees to students in 80 degree programs throughout its six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, Albert Dorman Honors College and College of Computing Sciences. The division of continuing professional education offers adults eLearning, off campus degrees and short courses. Expertise and research initiatives include architecture and building science, applied mathematics, biomedical engineering, environmental engineering and science, information technology, manufacturing, materials, microelectronics, multimedia, telecommunications, transportation and solar astrophysics. Yahoo! Internet Life magazine cites NJIT as a "perennially most wired" university.

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