DRC & Research News

This page shares the latest news in T1D research and DRC’s community.

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Looking Back on 2020

Even during a global pandemic, Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) remains committed to our mission of funding innovative type 1 diabetes (T1D) research this year. DRC’s board, staff, and volunteers have worked hard over the past few months to cut costs and raise new funds to continue supporting early-career scientists. 

In 2020 alone, DRC has distributed over $500,000 to research! This brings DRC to a total of 32 funded research projects. We received updates from past projects this year that you can read through on our website. DRC is thrilled to continue directly connecting our community to the researchers they support. We are spending time reflecting on 2020 and invite you to look back on DRC’s milestones throughout the year with us.

A small group gathered at an in-home wine and cheese night at a board member’s home in January. These small gatherings allow people to learn more about DRC and create space for our community to stay connected.

Our annual Ill Fornaio Fundraiser was held in February. We had a very successful event where 70 members of our community attended and ate dinner with a percentage of all proceeds donated to DRC!

March brought its challenges, but DRC funded even more new research! Multiple projects funded by individual families, such as the Tarson family and the Stiehls, went live on our website. DRC provides the opportunity for individuals to name an entire research project after their family, foundation, or loved one affected by type 1 diabetes. 

DRC also funded the following projects in spring: Step 1 in a new strategy to preserve insulin secretion in people with T1D,” Francesco Vendrame, M.D. Ph.D. and Allison  Bayer, Ph.D. of the University of Miami and “A New Approach to Disrupting the Onset of T1D,” Rizwan Ahmed, Ph.D. of Johns Hopkins University.

After hearing so many of our supporters say they wanted to stay connected and were dealing with the stress of staying home, DRC launched its first virtual gathering in April, focused on mental health. DRC hosted a total of six of these gatherings featuring our supported scientists and exciting updates on their T1D research. You can still watch these on our website.

Amidst online training and ZOOM team building calls, DRC  shared our mission and vision at the May Del Mar Rotary presentation held online.

A generous family pledged in June to match all donations made that month. This allowed donors to double their impact and resulted in DRC raising over $100,000 in a time when even the smallest gifts helped DRC in big ways! This support allowed for the funding of a new project, “Preserving Retinal Cells Survival and Function for Potential Clinical Studies in T1D,” Frans Vinberg, Ph.D. of the University of Utah.

DRC launched its new website in July. We continue to receive incredible feedback about it.

In August, in preparation for our annual Dance for Diabetes, DRC produced our organizational film 2020 Committed to Our Mission.

DRC had to pivot our strategy and get creative to allow our community an opportunity for fun, so we premiered our Virtual Dance for Diabetes in September. We had 340+ RSVPs, over 500 views on YouTube, raised close to $190,000, and had 50+ new donors join our family after this event. 

This fall, DRC received three times the average amount of applications for funding of new projects. In October, two research projects went live on our website. “Cell Silence can be golden to improving the cure for T1D,” Raphael P.H Meier, M.D., Ph.D. of the University of California, San Francisco and “Do Classical T1D Patients Share Genetic Makeup with ICI-Induced T1D Patients?”Jeremy Racine, Ph.D. of The Jackson Laboratory.

This year alone, we expanded our Board of Directors by four! In November, National Diabetes Awareness Month, DRC shared the T1D stories of those in our community. This month, DRC funded another new project, A New Signal to Halting T1D,” Jing Hughes, MD, Ph.D. of Washington University School of Medicine.

DRC is anticipating distributing even more than $500,000 to research in 2020 alone! DRC is ending the year funding one more new research project in December, “Advancing T1 Prevention and Cure Solutions from Cancer Research,” Zoe Quandt, MD, Ph.D. of the University of San Francisco.

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David Kindness wants to give back

“About a decade ago, when I was 15 years old, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D). It was really scary news. Overnight, doctors explained that I’d have to start counting carbs and managing carb intake, give myself insulin shots multiple times a day, and the scariest of all.. “There is no cure.” Since then, I’ve learned to manage it well. T1D graduated from college with me, it’s traveled internationally, gone on many hikes and road trips. It’s surfed, longboarded, rock climbed and skied with me, and it’s affected every step in the process of my life. As I’ve taught myself adventure photography in recent years, T1D has been behind the lens of every shot I’ve taken. Today, a decade after my diagnosis, I believe that a permanent cure for diabetes could be found within the next decade, from research. I want to use something I love – my photography – to help fund that research, so I’m donating a percentage of all proceeds from sales of both printed and digital photography to the search for a cure for type 1 diabetes.”

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Mother, grandmother, wife and career woman with T1D shares hope

“I have had 50+ years of dealing with Type 1 Diabetes.  All of my life has been centered around being a Diabetic and dealing with it for 30 years as a Dental Hygienist,  a wife,  a mother,  and also, now, a Grandmother.  Research to me is the key to living.  We must fight hard to find a cure and without research that progress will never happen!” Vicki.

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Robby’s Story: Hoping for a Solution through Research

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 12 years old. My older brother was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes previously, so my family was quite familiar with managing type 1. Upon receiving this diagnosis, my parents looked at type 1 diabetes as simply something that was an inconvenience and nothing more. It was never that big of a deal and I was healthy, so I played competitive tennis and have been very active and health-conscious throughout my entire life.

I followed the standard American diet when first diagnosed and received care from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. While in middle school I started to change my diet. Then in high school I stumbled across a book which planted the seed in my mind that if I took better care of my body, my body’s own stem cells could create insulin producing cells and I would be able to discontinue insulin. So, I went on a mission to do absolutely anything it took to give my body the best chance to heal itself over the past 11 years. I remain on a whole food and most fruit diet as these foods are packed with nutrition, in hopes that that those nutrients will support healing.

Early in this process I hit a plateau of insulin sensitivity / insulin usage. I don’t think my theory of my body healing itself and producing its own insulin is as easy as I hoped it was going to be! However, I am a constant learner and am passionate about helping those living with diabetes. I am very curious to dig in deeper into the world of type 1 diabetes research. I would like to speak with the early- career researchers at Diabetes Research Connection in order to ask them a long list of questions I have. I am living healthfully every day, trying to help find the way to reverse type 1 diabetes, but for now I manage it on a daily basis. I’m very much aligned with DRC’s mission in finding a solution to type 1 diabetes and believe research can truly be the answer! You can learn more about Robby by visiting his website https://www.masteringdiabetes.org/.

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Mom and Son Tell Their T1D Story

“I was diagnosed at age 13 and never really did research or looked into why diabetes happened to me or anyone. I just ignored the facts and took care of myself. Then 15 years later when my son was 2 &1/2 he was diagnosed. After that diabetes was a whole new item to me! I have done so much research and follow so many diabetes accounts on social media, always staying with the latest and greatest equipment. I love that I can get on your page and reach out and someone is there for moral support!! It’s like having another family!! Knowing that at any time if I want to see what is going on in the diabetes tech or research world all I have to do is hop on social media and go to DRC and it’s all there in one place.” ~ Rashell

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