Bethesda Magazine: September/October 2021 Digital Edition

Page 38


Local residents tap their talents and technology to solve problems BY DANA GERBER

DIAGNOSED LAST SEPTEMBER WITH Type 1 diabetes, then-eighth-grader Drew Mendelow wasted no time in developing an app to help him manage his illness. Kevin Xu, who graduated from Montgomery Blair High School this June, took the same approach when he was looking for a way to improve his participation in online classes. The teens and a Kensington couple are among the Montgomery County residents who are using their talents to develop apps that solve problems and improve the lives of others. Here’s what they have created. 36

Gaithersburg teen Drew Mendelow developed an app to help people manage Type 1 diabetes.


When Drew Mendelow was diagnosed at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., he was overwhelmed by the “math class” involved in treating his illness. “There was a lot of stuff to think about, like calculating insulin and carb counting,” says Drew, now 14, who lives in Gaithersburg. “[The nutritionist] kept mentioning that there wasn’t one app that would do everything.” The day he arrived home from the hospital, Drew used his modest coding background to begin work on T1D1, a free app designed to help people manage Type 1 diabetes. The app, which Drew designed using the online app builder Thunkable, calculates the correct dose of insulin based on personal specifications, and is able to log the figures so they can be sent to medical providers. It also has a food library where users can list the amount of carbs in frequently used recipes.

Drew coordinated with the doctors at Children’s to provide guidance and suggestions on the app, which is available in the App Store and on Google Play. It has been downloaded more than 24,000 times in more than 50 countries since it was launched on Oct. 31. Dr. Brynn Marks, the endocrinologist who diagnosed Drew, says her team recommends the app to patients. Drew used it until he got an insulin pump in December that calculates doses and administers medication, but he still uses the food library. A ninth grader at Quince Orchard High School, Drew is working on translating the app into Spanish and Chinese, and he has added a measurement unit for blood sugar that’s commonly used outside the U.S. “I’m really just hoping this app reaches as many people that need it as possible from anywhere—give them one less thing to worry about,” he says.




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