The Data Science Product Development Manager talks about the big questions — and big opportunities — in big data.

Chantal McMahon didn’t set out to lead a team of data scientists. But then again, a lot of people currently working in data science didn’t set out with that intention—the field is too new.

Chantal’s work in data science began in earnest in graduate school while pursuing her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and neuro engineering. She researched how the spinal cord knows when and how to control movement. “I was recording from hundreds of active neurons of the spinal cord and leg muscles at the same time,” she says. “I had to quickly learn how to process, manage and analyze data in order to understand the functional connectivity between the spinal cord and the muscles controlling walking.”

Today, Chantal’s focus is still very much on data, but also on people. As a Data Science Product Development Manager in the Medtronic Diabetes group, she’s leading a team of data scientists focused on making diabetes easier to live with. “More than 422 million adults suffer from diabetes globally1, and they face a daily burden of tracking blood sugar, what they eat, and other symptoms,” says Chantal. “Worse yet, if they don’t have good control of their blood sugar, people with diabetes face serious complications like cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, blindness, premature death and more.2

Currently, Chantal and her team are using their “math magic” to find insights and patterns in patient behaviors and blood sugar levels to help improve awareness and diabetes outcomes with the Sugar.IQ™ diabetes assistant and other programs such as the MiniMed™ 670G hybrid closed loop system. She recently co-authored an article on the relationship of Hemoglobin A1c to Time-In-Range that explored the connections between these two important metrics. Chantal is also part of a team of industry and academic experts working along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to consider a software-as-a-medical-device pre-certification program. “We need to figure out how to meet with the times of digital transformation, when users expect software updates every 1-2 months, while continuing to ensure safety and reliability.”

When Chantal joined Medtronic, she was interested in being closer to the end user. “Basic research like what I was doing in graduate school is crucial in understanding how and why diseases and interventions impact outcomes,” she says. “But I wanted to be able to work in a team where we can see the impact of our work and know that we are helping people.”

The ultimate goal for Chantal and her team is to remove more of the burden from patients coping with diabetes. “We want to get to place where patients don’t have to manually input data to gain insights from their devices,” says Chantal. “How can we use our devices for outcomes-driven research and impact disease management? How can we help patients improve their time in range and A1c?” With advances in new types of voice recognition and natural language processing, the possibilities are only growing.

“I love having the capability to be on the cutting edge of technology growth,” says Chantal, “Being in the health care space is so rewarding,” says Chantal. “It’s math and context that improves lives.”

Important Safety Information: MiniMed™ 670G System

The Medtronic MiniMed™ 670G system is intended for continuous delivery of basal insulin (at user selectable rates) and administration of insulin boluses (in user selectable amounts) for the management of type 1 diabetes mellitus in persons, seven years of age and older, requiring insulin as well as for the continuous monitoring and trending of glucose levels in the fluid under the skin. The MiniMed™ 670G system includes SmartGuard™ technology, which can be programmed to automatically adjust delivery of basal insulin based on continuous glucose monitor sensor glucose values, and can suspend delivery of insulin when the sensor glucose value falls below or is predicted to fall below predefined threshold values. The system requires a prescription. The Guardian Sensor (3) glucose values are not intended to be used directly for making therapy adjustments, but rather to provide an indication of when a fingerstick may be required. A confirmatory finger stick test via the CONTOUR®NEXT LINK 2.4 blood glucose meter is required prior to making adjustments to diabetes therapy. All therapy adjustments should be based on measurements obtained using the CONTOUR®NEXT LINK 2.4 blood glucose meter and not on values provided by the Guardian Sensor (3). Always check the pump display to ensure the glucose result shown agrees with the glucose results shown on the CONTOUR®NEXT LINK 2.4 blood glucose meter. Do not calibrate your CGM device or calculate a bolus using a blood glucose meter result taken from an alternative site (palm) or from a control solution test. It is not recommended to calibrate your CGM device when sensor or blood glucose values are changing rapidly, e.g., following a meal or physical exercise. If a control solution test is out of range, please note that the result may be transmitted to your pump when in the “Always” send mode.

Pump therapy is not recommended for people whose vision or hearing does not allow recognition of pump signals and alarms. Pump therapy is not recommended for people who are unwilling or unable to maintain contact with their healthcare professional. The safety of the MiniMed™ 670G system has not been studied in pregnant women. For complete details of the system, including product and important safety information such as indications, contraindications, warnings and precautions associated with system and its components, please consult and the appropriate user guide at

WARNING: Medtronic performed an evaluation of the MiniMed™ 670G system and determined that it may not be safe for use in children under the age of 7 because of the way that the system is designed and the daily insulin requirements. Therefore this device should not be used in anyone under the age of 7 years old. This device should also not be used in patients who require less than a total daily insulin dose of 8 units per day because the device requires a minimum of 8 units per day to operate safely.