Past KTU Programs - Kids' Tech University (KTU)
Dr. Boris KovatchevApril 06, 2013
“Why Do Doctors Need Math To Treat Diabetes?”

An interactive session led by Dr. Boris Kovatchev

KTU Booklet

Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences and Adjunct Professor of Systems and Information Engineering, University of Virginia. Charlottesville, Virginia, Head of Section Computational Neuroscience, and Director of the University of Virginia Center for Diabetes Technology.

When we eat candy, chocolate, ice cream, or cereal, the sugar from these foods enters our bodies and is then “burned” with the help of a hormone called insulin to give us energy to move around. In fact, our brains eat mostly sugar, so without sugar we won’t be able to even think. This is called “metabolism” – the engine that makes us tick. Kids and adults who have diabetes don’t make enough insulin, so they need additional insulin injections to make their bodies work. How much, however, is very important – less insulin or more insulin can cause all kinds of trouble, and can be even deadly. So, doctors need Math to be able to precisely tell how much and when to inject insulin. And when it comes to computers that inject insulin, then the Math becomes even more important and more complicated.

In this talk we’ll learn how Math can help treat diabetes, and even make possible an amazing device – the artificial pancreas – which will one day take care of kids and adults with diabetes safely and automatically.

Dr. Kovatchev is Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences and Adjunct Professor of Systems and Information Engineering, University of Virginia. Charlottesville, Virginia, Head of Section Computational Neuroscience, and Director of the University of Virginia Center for Diabetes Technology. He received Ph.D. in Mathematics (Probability and Statistics) from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski,” Bulgaria in 1989. His research expertise is in Biomathematics, specifically modeling of biologic and behavioral processes. Kovatchev has a 18-year track record in translational diabetes research and is the recipient of the Diabetes Technology Leadership Award for 2008. He is principal investigator of three large projects related to the design of artificial pancreas: (i) Modular Bio-Behavioral Closed-Loop Control of T1DM, NIH/NIDDK RO1 DK 085623 (2009-14), (ii) the JDRF Artificial Pancreas Project at UVA (2006-14), and (iii) “Ambulatory artificial pancreas: merging physiology, behavior, and control design” - NIH Diabetes Impact Award (DP3) at UVA (2011-16). Kovatchev is author of 123 peer-reviewed scientific publications, and holds 36 U.S. and international patents and 62 patents currently pending. In 2011 he was named UVA Edlich-Henderson Inventor of the Year.

April 6, 2013 - Hands-On Exhibits
After the interactive session the students will be escorted by their parents to have lunch and then to the hands-on portion of the event. There the students will enjoy the experience of interacting with various exhibits from the Virginia Tech community.