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3614 Weeburn
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Eran Bashan

Diabetes affects nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States, and contributes to the deaths of more than 231,000 Americans each year.

“I am not a diabetic, and I didn’t know much about diabetes,” says Bashan, 40, who was born and raised in Israel and, at that time, was studying for his doctorate in electrical engineering at the University of Michigan. “But I love to solve problems, and I don’t like to see inefficiency, especially in health care.”

Bashan and Hodish went to work on the issue and, within months, developed a Diabetes Insulin Guidance System (DIGS), a device that uses innovative software to analyze blood sugar levels and tell patients how much insulin they should give themselves based on their body chemistry.

Red Thread's Allan Nahajewski recently caught up with Bashan to find out when diabetic patients can expect to benefit from the new technology.

When will DIGS be available to the public?
DIGS is expected to make its debut early next year in Europe, where the company is on track to clear regulatory hurdles for the product. My Ann Arbor-based startup is called Hygieia, which is Greek for health. The company already has seven employees, who are gearing up now for the product launch.

The new product, which is about the size of a cell phone, could lead to substantial health care cost savings and, more importantly, potential health benefits for the user.

Diabetics are currently self-testing, but months often go by before their doctors see the data. By then, the data is often too old or too voluminous to be of real value. Blood sugar levels can change rapidly, so timely changes in insulin levels could make a big difference in diabetics’ day-to-day health.

Is your background in medicine?
I grew up in the northern Israeli town of Lohamei HaGeta’ot and moved to Ann Arbor at age 33. In Israel, I obtained my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, worked in consumer electronics in Tel Aviv and served seven years in the military as a field officer and company commander in the Armored Corps.

Growing up in Israel taught me resiliency and resourcefulness. Both have come in handy during the launch of Hygieia, which was formed in August 2008 — two weeks before the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

You tend to gain a stronger sense of perspective when you’ve been shot at several times.

What’s the business model for Hygieia?
I expect the DIGS device to start reaching patients through doctor recommendations; the devices will be provided free, with revenue generated from selling the test strips. We project sales of $3 million in the first year with sales reaching $75 million within three years.
I’ve already raised $1.5 million to fund the venture and my goal is to raise $6 million by the end of this year. One investment came from Ann Arbor-based Michigan Life Ventures, which has a minority stake in the company.

Hygieia also received a $340,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to help fund a clinical trial with 46 patients in Minneapolis. My team presented the findings last month at the American Diabetes Association’s 71st Annual Scientific Sessions in San Diego.

What’s the key to launching a business?
Persistence is important, but so is listening to what other people have to say. When they tell you why something won’t work, listen — you could learn something — but stay persistent.

The Detroit Jewish News

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