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"I really savored those moments of community and connection because of our diabetes," said Marissa.

Marissa was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2005 at age 9, and she vividly remembers her childhood best friend being the only one who was genuinely excited about the diagnosis.

“My best friend had lived with type 1 diabetes since she was 5, and now she had a partner in crime,” said Marissa. “We went to diabetes camp together, and I was heavily involved in the diabetes community early on because of my best friend. I almost immediately started participating in clinical research, and I learned so much from it at an early age.”

When Marissa moved to Santa Barbara to attend UC Santa Barbara in 2014, she found SDRI and started participating in clinical research studies at the Institute. She has been involved in a wide range of clinical research studies, from testing continuous glucose monitors to overnight closed-loop insulin pump studies. In one study, she stayed at SDRI for an entire weekend with a handful of other participants for a closed-loop insulin delivery system trial. The study participants performed various tests to see how the algorithm for insulin delivery would adapt to the real world of various foods and activities.

“In 2018, I participated in my favorite trial,” said Marissa. “All the participants flew to Hawaii and New York to test out long-acting insulin across different time zones. Traveling is a challenge for people with type 1 diabetes, and I was surprised by how easy it was to use the insulin during the study travel. The insulin worked quickly and was very effective in keeping my blood sugars in range. I use the same insulin today.”

 Marissa appreciates testing new technology and medicine through clinical research trials. She also loves the sense of community that develops among study participants.

“We had the unique opportunity to share our journey in diabetes, our stories, and I really savored those moments of community and connection because of our diabetes,” said Marissa.

Marissa has continued her passion for diabetes and clinical research. After graduating from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in biology, she works at UC San Francisco as a clinical research analyst.