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Medtronics MiniMed (Melissa Savage)

Reviewed by:
Melissa Savage: Biology Instructor. Granada Hills Charter High School. 

Location: Medtronics MiniMed 

18000 Devonshire St, Northridge CA, 91325

Google Map Link

GPS: 34.256649,-118.525379 

Description:  Medtronic Diabetes is the diabetes management manufacturing and sales division of Medtronic, based in Northridge, California. The original company, Minimed Technologies, was founded in the early 1980s and spun off from Pacesetter Systems in order to design a practical insulin pump for lifelong wear. Most devices at the time were either too large or impossible to program and extremely unreliable. The release of the lightweight, menu-driven MiniMed 500 series changed the landscape, and was a major factor in bringing insulin pump usage to the mainstream. In the early 2000s Medtronic purchased Minimed to form Medtronic Minimed.

    Current models consist of the MiniMed Paradigm 523/723 and Paradigm Real-time Revel system and Guardian Real-time system. It is the first insulin pump which integrates continuous blood glucose monitoring, allowing patients to see in real time their glucose level. As well as insulin pumps, Medtronic Diabetes also makes Continuous Blood Glucose Monitoring Systems (CGMS) for use as stand alone systems or integrated into its Minimed Paradigm 523/723 series pumps. The company also makes and/or markets a large range of accessories and components for its insulin pump and CGMS products.


An insulin pump is a small device about the size of a small cell phone that is worn externally and can be discreetly clipped to your belt, slipped into a pocket, or hidden under your clothes. It delivers precise doses of rapid-acting insulin to closely match your body’s needs: Small amounts of insulin delivered continuously (24/7) for normal functions of the body (not including food). This replaces your long-acting insulin. Additional insulin you program “on demand” to match the food you are going to eat or to correct a high blood sugar.

Audience: There are six docents at Medtronics that can each escort groups of 10 students at a time. Thera is also a large  conference room that accommodate a group of 100 individuals.
  • Biology: Discussion of Diabetes and the use of insulin in treating diabetes. History on the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes.
  • Science: Medtronics is continually looking for new advances in the field of technology and medicine. The site in Northridge already has over 300 patents on equipment and machines to make the equipment. While the company is very close mouthed about recent inventions and current inventions they are happy to share the scientific method and how it applies in the real world. Solving problems that they face with insulin delivery, and inventions from the past.
  • Physics: product testing of the insulin monitors and the actual process of putting then together
  • Computer Science: The refurbishing of the used insulin pumps and the programing of computer and machines.
Science Concepts Addressed: The following science concepts can be addressed by a field trip to Medtronics
  • Diabetes: Diabetes is a lifelong (chronic) disease in which there are high levels of sugar in the blood.
  • Insulin: Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to control blood sugar. Diabetes can be caused by too little insulin, resistance to insulin, or both.
  • Scientific method
  • Assembly Lines
  • Product testing
Study Guide:
  • Tasks:
    • Put together your own insertion device
  • Observations:  
    • Who is the founder of  Medtronics?
    • What are the four types of diabetes?
    • How did people test for diabetes before glucose monitors?
    • What did the first insulin pump look like?
    • What are the 4 different assembly stations?
    • Why is there sticky paper on the floor by the doors?
    • What safety requirements are used in the room where the microchips are made?
    • How many people work an assembly line to make the injection needles?
    • How much training time is required in order to work on the injection needle assembly line?
    • What are the risks and benefits of using an insulin pump?
    • What insulin pump is used in the UK but not in the United States? Why is it not allowed in the US? What are some of the benefits/risks from this type of pump?
  • Higher Order Questions / Activities
    • Which parts of the insulin pump are made by humans? Which by machines? Why?
    • How does insulin work as a negative feedback loop?
    • Explain the scientific method. How it was used in the discovery or one of the mechanisms of the insulin pump?

Additional Notes:

  • Medtronics is very careful about protecting all of their patents. There are absolutely no cameras allowed into the lab and the second floor (research and development) is strictly off limits.


How to Insert an Insulin Pump