Honorary lecturer gets Government backing for diabetes innovation

Dr Deborah Wake, Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at the University of Dundee, is one of nine women to have been awarded £50,000 to develop and grow their business as part of Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation competition. The awards, which were announced on International Women’s Day by Business Secretary Greg Clark, follow a search for female innovators who are tackling some of the biggest challenges facing society as set out in the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy.

Dr Wake developed My Diabetes My Way, an app that uses medical records and home-recorded data to provide diabetes patients with advice and support for them to manage their condition, while based at the University’s School of Medicine. She now works for the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian, although My Diabetes My Way remains based in Dundee.

My Diabetes My Way has more than 40,000 registrants across the country and the team behind it have spun out the MyWay Digital Health company in order to take the app to the rest of the world. Commercial contracts have already been signed across the UK with developments in the pipeline in several countries and £2 million in funding having been raised over the past 18 months.

As a way of marking these outstanding contributions to innovation, Innovate UK has commissioned and installed commemorative plaques recognising where the innovation journey began for each award winner in order to inspire young innovators and communities alike. The plaque recognising Dr Wake's achievements has been installed at her former school, Forfar Academy. The winners will also receive a year-long package of bespoke support, coaching and mentoring.

“I am honoured and humbled to receive this award,” said Dr Wake. “I am delighted that Forfar Academy has agreed to house a plaque as it was where my innovation journey began. I hope it will inspire others, particularly young women into the Innovation space. What is most pleasing about this award is its ambition to encourage and inspire other women as well as the recognition it gives to our work as the only Scottish recipient.

“The My Diabetes My Way service is genuinely unique worldwide, providing electronic health records access to an entire national population. Every day we hear from users that our website is a useful tool which not only aids self-management, but improves a patient’s knowledge and motivation to manage their condition.”

The platform allows patients to have online access to test results, clinic letters and data-driven tailored treatment plans. It also contains multimedia resources aimed at improving self-management, including traditional information leaflets, interactive educational tools, video describing diabetes-related complications and testimonials from people with diabetes talking about their experiences.

My Diabetes My Way has been internationally recognised as a model for sharing information with patients in a way they can easily access. It has been heralded as an exemplar of ehealth strategy in Scotland and won several awards.

Forfar Academy Head Teacher Kas Mohamed, said, “We were delighted to welcome back one of our own in Debbie and share in celebrating her fantastic achievement.

“Debbie has truly gone on to exemplify our school’s values and is a wonderful role model for all of our students. In particular, she has encouraged our female students to think about what can be achieved through choosing science, technology and engineering subjects and how that can lead to success and make a real difference to the lives of others.

“We were delighted that she was able to present an inspirational session to our students describing her learner journey and challenging them to think about what they are capable of achieving.”

Innovate UK is the UK’s national innovation agency. It aims to drive productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said, “Scotland has a reputation as a world leader in innovation and research and it is great news that Dr Wake and her team have secured £50,000 of UK Government funding to advance their vital work in diabetes care.”

For more information about ‘My Diabetes My Way’ visit mydiabetesmyway.scot.nhs.uk.