Fighting diabetes with data

Novo Nordisk, IBM, Deloitte and ETHOS Lab were behind Datathon for Diabetes at the IT University of Copenhagen on November 5-6, where 50 students rummaged through vast public data sets in search of new insights on diabetes.

Diabetes is a major global pandemic, with 415 million people afflicted today, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). This number could to rise to 642 million in 2040. But perhaps the key to turning the development around is hiding somewhere in the vast amount of publicly available data on diabetes patients and factors such as obesity, geography, consumption and longevity.

At the Datathon for Diabetes, students from across universities and fields worked intensively on analysing, visualizing and finding patterns in the data in order to create new insights that can be used to fight the disease.

In total, 50 students in 16 teams participated, and there were participants from ITU, KU, DTU, AAU and CBS. The teams explored, among other things, whether it is possible to predict who will get diabetes, and whether there is a correlation between sleep habits and diabetes.

Impressive projects
On Sunday evening, a jury consisting of representatives from Novo Nordisk, IBM, Deloitte and ITU announced three winning teams. Assistant Professor Rachel Douglas-Jones was ITU's ETHOS Lab representative on the jury. She was impressed with the projects presented by the students:

“The judging team were impressed with the quality of what the students had come up with over such a short period of time. The teams that distinguished themselves in this competition asked good questions, and brought original angles to this global health issue. They allowed themselves to be surprised, for example that half of those with diabetes never receive a diagnosis. These most successful projects avoided solutionism, and recognised both the possibilities and the limitations of their approaches,” she said.

Novo Nordisk organised the datathon, which has previously been held at MIT in Boston. Additionally, the event was sponsored by IBM, Deloitte, ITU and ETHOS Lab at ITU.

See photos from the event below:

Datathon for Diabetes. 

Welcome by Kate Mulroney, Novo Nordisk, and an introduction to diabetes as a global challenge.

Datathon for Diabetes.

Participants enjoying lunch.

Datathon for Diabetes.

Presentation by Team Masiga, students from Digital Innovation & Management at ITU.

Datathon for Diabetes.

KrisLex, ph.d’s in Bio Informatics from KU, won the prize from Deloitte for the best insight-driven approach.

Further information

Vibeke Arildsen, Press Officer, phone 2555 0447, email