Man with artificial pancreas visits Indy

Tom Brobson (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – For those living with type 1, or juvenile diabetes, life revolves around your levels. Recently, a man with type 1 diabetes came to Indianapolis without a care on his mind. It’s thanks to an artificial pancreas he’s testing.

Not only is Tom Brobson a national staff member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, he’s a patient himself.

“There’s not too many 44-year-old type 1’s being diagnosed but they’re there and I just turned out to be one of them, oh boy!” said Brobson.

When Tom heard about an artificial pancreas researchers were developing, he wanted in. Off and on for years, he tested the device while being supervised in a hospital. Then…

“2012 we left the hospital and went out into the real world and what had been living on a laptop computer is now sitting on a smart phone,” said Brobson.

It doesn’t make calls or have games, but this smartphone can do something miraculous for type 1 patients. It wirelessly reads a patient’s senor, whether they have too much insulin in their system or not enough, and automatically tells their insulin pump how to correct.

No blood testing, no worrying. Tom calls it freedom.

“The first thing I did was went and found a Five Guys burger joint and I got a cheeseburger and some fries. I did not eat all the fries, full disclosure, I couldn’t do that to myself but my blood sugar’s never went over 195,” said Brobson.

For the first time in years, Tom could turn off the part of his brain that was always burdened about his levels.

“Instead I could just look at the phone and go, ‘Oh I’m fine, right. I could see exactly where I was.'”

It’s not permanent for Tom, and it’s not available on the market yet. But it is a sign of hope for type 1 patients worldwide that help is on the way.

“Getting to put the system on and have it take over and manage so much of what I have to spend so much of my time doing was like having the best vacation you could ever think of. It just felt like you got a piece of your life back that you have not had for a long, long time,” said Brobson.

Tom expects the artificial pancreas to be made available to the public in a couple years and says, this is just the beginning of the developments JDRF is working on to help type 1 patients and eventually cure the disease.

If you’d like more information on the work JDRF is doing, click here. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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