Congratulations to Paz Zait-Givon, a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering, on being selected to receive a Nightscout Foundation Scholarship for the 2017-2018 academic year.
The Nightscout Foundation is a non-profit formed in 2014 to encourage and support the creation of open source technology projects that enhance the lives of people with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) and those who love them. The foundation fundraises, advocates, and develops hardware and software. They empower patients and their families to push the industry to further improve the lives of all T1 diabetics.
Paz received the scholarship for her commitment to this mission. Before starting graduate study at Rice, she worked under the supervision of Professors Chandra Krintz and Rich Wolski at the University of California Santa Barbara’s RACELab on project VIGILANCE, a personalized diabetes management platform.
"The overarching goal of this work was to create a personalized diabetes management platform," she explained. "We investigated methods of predicting glycemic variability using activity trackers. I designed and implemented a script to continuously request data from Fitbit users, and created a database to store this information for a clinical trial being concurrently designed."
Paz said that her own experience of living with T1D, which she described as a "perpetual experiment," inspired her to explore and push ahead more and better options and lead her to the Nightscout Foundation.
"There are many parameters and variables, sometimes more than I can consciously keep track of and they change over time," she explained. “During highs and lows, diabetes demands my attention, temporarily getting in the way of me living my life to the fullest. It doesn’t dictate my direction in life, but it follows me everywhere.”
"This scholarship recognizes my efforts to contribute to a better life for diabetics and supports my education so I can continue to build skills and give back to the community," she said. "The Nightscout community forge ahead to create a better path for all insulin-dependent diabetics. They experiment and innovate tirelessly, refusing to wait for permission to take the health of themselves and their loved ones into their own hands. To me, as a T1D who understands some of what goes into all this work they release for free to all, they are the true definition of heroes.”
Now at Rice, Paz is researching a similarly complex medical condition - managing dyssynchrony and heart-failure through pacemakers.
"Type 1 diabetics' need for insulin can change both quickly and over time in response to a variety factors like food composition, exercise, emotional state, and hormonal changes," she said. "Similarly, the kind of heartbeat necessary at any given time is also affected by a variety of factors such as emotional state, exercise, and oxygen level in the air. Patients with heart problems suffer in their day to day lives if they aren't paced correctly."
"I hope to find new insights for others with chronic conditions that require constant intensive management. With the support of this scholarship, I hope to join the ranks of my heroes and save the world! Or at least, make life significantly better for a significant amount of people."