Anna Quinlan, a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School, won the 2018 18th Congressional District's App Challenge for an insulin pump app she created, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Menlo Park, announced on Dec. 3.
Anna's "A Smarter Insulin Pump" application runs on a small computer, called a Raspberry Pi, and helps diabetics maintain normal blood glucose (or sugar) levels. Although similar products are on the market, her app connects to a pump and is lower in cost ($40 versus $6,000 to $10,000 for alternatives), Anna said. Users can control the pump using their phones.
Anna's pump automatically dispenses insulin in response to blood sugar changes, as opposed to current pumps on the market, which require diabetics to manually change pump settings multiple times a day. The app sends a text message when a user's blood glucose levels require intervention and tells the user the amount of carbohydrates he or she needs to eat to get levels back to normal, she said. The app also allows users to record what they eat.
"I know a lot of people who live with diabetes (including friends and family)," said Anna, 17, who began working on the app in the summer of 2017. "I wanted to create something that can ease the daily burden."
Diabetics spend a lot of time testing blood, planning meals, injecting insulin and more, Anna said. She developed the app after hearing complaints from a diabetic friend whose insulin pump didn't alert her about low glucose levels.
"This app is practical and will help so many manage their diabetes," Eshoo said in a press release. "Bravo to Anna Quinlan and every participant who demonstrated great knowhow, tech savvy and enormous potential."
Anna has shown a passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) at M-A and beyond. She started M-A's annual student-run science fair and serves as president of the science fair board. She spent last summer working at Jackson Laboratory in Maine, where she studied how Type 1 diabetes develops in mice.
"I'm super-excited for the future of diabetes care," said Quinlan, who was accepted to Stanford University early action. She plans to study biology and computer science. "There are a lot of things coming to market in the next couple of years."
High school students nationwide participated in the Congressional App Challenge, with winners chosen in each congressional district. The House of Representatives began the contest in 2013. The challenge is designed to promote innovation and engagement in STEM education fields.
An independent panel of expert judges chose Anna's app as the winning submission from Eshoo's district. Organizers awarded Anna $250 in Amazon Web Services credits. She will travel to Washington, D.C., to present her work to the House of Representatives, and her app will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol and on House.gov.
Anna is still developing her insulin pump, so it is not on the market yet.