DRC & Research News

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

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CONNECTING FOR A CURE: June 2022 Newsletter

DRC has distributed over $400,000 to research projects like Dr. Dwyer’s and Dr. Zhu’s in Request for Application (RFA) 2 2021 alone. We received an unprecedented number of Letters of Interest (LOIs) in our last RFA and are funding even more innovative projects than ever. View our “Support a Project” page to see what other research projects we are currently committed to funding by clicking here. Take a look at our latest newsletter, where we feature some quotes from our newest grant recipients, show DRC in the community, and highlight our newest volunteers.

Click this link to view our June newsletter that we mailed out previously this month about what we’ve been up to and the impact we are making together. It takes a community to connect for a cure!

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Diabetes Research Connection Awards $400,000 to Eight Promising T1D Studies

After rigorous peer review by DRC’s Scientific Review Committee, eight early-career researchers were awarded $50,000, totaling $400,000 in seed funding for their work to find the cause, treatment, and cure for T1D. 

Click HERE to read the Press Release

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Meet a DRC Volunteer: Kaya Keutler

Kaya was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 13. That was also the point she knew she wanted to become a scientist and work in the research field of diabetes. Fast forward 15 years, Kaya is working on getting her doctoral degree at the Oregon Health & Science University. However, Kaya has realized that she wants to spend less time doing science and more time communicating current scientific knowledge to relevant audiences and the public. Her work for the DRC brings her one step closer to that goal. 

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 13. One of my closest cousins had lived with diabetes for about 10 years back then, so it wasn’t an unknown disease to me. Still, it felt like a bad diagnosis when an indifferent doctor delivered it to me in front of his note-taking students at a university clinic. Today I recognize it as a life-changing moment and am grateful for it, as it has made me the person I am. It also has significantly impacted my career decisions. I knew I wanted to become a scientist and work on a cure for diabetes back then. Although actively working in the field of diabetes research today, I now know it’s not that simple. There is so much we still need to learn about the disease and its treatment, and that includes both basic science as well as coming up with smart solutions for the everyday life of diabetic patients. “Let’s see what the science says” is a phrase I often use both at work and while engaging in managing my diabetes. I’ve found that what I know as a scientist does influence my treatment decisions quite a bit. I’ve reached out to volunteer for the DRC as I want to give others the power to make science-based treatment decisions and to better understand their disease, the research around it, and their options.

Kaya is now helping this organization by translating complex scientific language from DRC-funded researchers so that the community can understand the project better.

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National Tell a Story Day: A Co-Founder Shares Her Experience

Amy Adam’s son was diagnosed with T1D when he was five years old. She served on the Board of Directors and various committees for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Chicago chapter for 10 years and was a contributing writer to Insulin Free Times. This is her second term on the DRC Board, and she has served as the Lay Person Review Committee Chair since DRC’s inception.

It’s hard to believe that 30 years, hundreds of thousands of blood tests and shots, innumerable doctors’ visits and procedures, and countless renewed vows to find that elusive combination of food, activity, and insulin have passed since my own child was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Time has propelled us forward like tumbleweeds in a dust storm, yet the rigorous demands and challenges of diabetes have clung stubbornly to him every step of the way. One of the most significant personal challenges I have encountered along this path is having to stand by and watch my child’s indomitable spirit rise and fall as this disease continues to roll along with his organs, tissues, and psyche firmly in its grasp.

You can’t outgrow Type 1 Diabetes, and it is progressive. Most Type 1 diabetics develop at least one complication, and close to 50% of Type 1 diabetics will develop disabling or even life-threatening complications over their life despite their best efforts to control the disease. Perhaps due to multiple autoimmune diseases, my child struggles more than many. 

Fortunately, early on our path with this disease, we met the most extraordinary doctor who medically guided us through some of his darkest hours and gave us the only trustworthy source of hope we have ever felt through his research for a cure for this insidious disease. Years later, when Dr. Hayek introduced me to an equally impressive man named David Winkler and asked me to join them in their endeavor to create a diabetes research organization with a different paradigm, I was all ears.

Our founding vision for The DRC (Diabetes Research Connection) was to empower the community of young, innovative scientists, people affected by diabetes, and their supporters to propel unique and promising Type 1 Diabetes research ideas that weren’t receiving adequate attention by other organizations. Each selected project would have to be endorsed by a group of world-renowned diabetes experts who had volunteered their time to evaluate the merit of these projects to qualify for funding. Then the projects would be written in lay-friendly terms and posted on our website, where potential supporters could choose to support the projects that “spoke” to them based on their own experiences and knowledge of the disease. The scientists would provide regular updates on the progress of their project, good, bad, or inconclusive. Outcomes would be published on our website, adding to the body of diabetes knowledge in a united effort to eliminate diabetes.

I support the Diabetes Research Connection because despite our best efforts to control what we were told was a manageable disease, the only source of control we have ever felt is where we put our money towards curing it. Join us and influence the future of diabetes research; by selecting the research that is meaningful to you and your experience, you may help influence the work that leads to a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.

Amy’s initial vision for co-founding DRC has come to fruition. In this organization’s 10th year, they have funded 48 projects, invested $2.4 M in innovative T1D research, and 12+  researchers received approximately $12M in follow on funding.

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2021 Annual Report

DRC’s 2021 Annual Report

Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is excited to announce that our first-ever annual report is completed and ready for you to enjoy! Please click HERE to view the 2021 Annual Report highlighting all of the progress this organization has made throughout the last year. 

Join us in celebrating the impact DRC-funded research has made on the prevention, management, and cure for Type 1 Diabetes (T1D)! 

DRC is committed to seeking out, peer-reviewing, and providing seed funding to the most promising T1D research being conducted by innovative early-career scientists across the country – providing hope to those living with the disease. It is only through our community that we can stay unwaveringly loyal to our mission. 

Thank you for being a part of the DRC family.

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Happy Holidays

DRC Wishes You A Happy Holiday!

Dear Supporter,

In consideration of the safety and comfort of our community, and the uncertainty for the effects of COVID-19 and its variant in indoor settings, DRC had to postpone events in 2021.

However, we are thrilled to announce we will be honoring our 10-year anniversary by throwing an epic party for our Dance for Diabetes in 2022. Stay tuned for more details.

Thank you for your continued support and partnership!

 

Happy Holidays, 

The DRC Team

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T1D

Imagine: A World Without Type 1 Diabetes

As we begin to reflect on all that has happened in the world over the past 18+ months, it is even more incredible to share the progress that the Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) has made. Despite the global pandemic, despite the decline in donations, and despite the fact we have been unable to be together in person, we are fighting to end Type 1 Diabetes more than ever before. 

We must end this disease, and to do that, we need to all commit to finding the best and brightest early-career scientists in the nation and provide seed funding for their promising research. We must invest in novel ideas, with the most promise, to ensure a future where nobody has to hear “You have Type 1 Diabetes.” 

Click HERE to view the full November Newsletter!

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DRC and Rainman's Take

DRC’s President and Chair and the Senior Director of Development Speak on the Podcast Rainman’s Take

In late September, DRC’s President and Chair, C.C. King, and the Senior Director of Development, Casey Davis, spoke on the Podcast Rainman’s Take. This podcast is hosted by Brian, the “Rainman” Lukacz. He speaks on a variety of topics and gives his take on them.

During this 1+ hour episode, Rainman talks with C.C. and Casey about their innovative approach to charitable giving in the fight for a cure for type 1 diabetes. DRC’s process allows donors to have a direct connection with the research they are funding that maintains transparency and is an incredibly efficient use of donated funds.

Click HERE to view the podcast.

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Protecting Beta Cells

Protecting Pancreatic Beta Cells During Cell Transplantation

One of the hallmarks of type 1 diabetes (T1D) is the destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells. The immune system mistakenly attacks these cells leaving the body unable to regulate blood glucose levels naturally. Instead, insulin must be administered manually or via an insulin pump in order to prevent hyperglycemia.

Researchers have been experimenting with cell transplantation methods to replace these depleted cells and enable the body to produce its own insulin once again. A major obstacle to this approach is cell survival and viability. The stress of injecting the cells can cause cell death, and the body often treats the transplanted cells as foreign bodies and elicits an immune response to destroy them. Scientists have used various strategies for encapsulating the cells to reduce stress and protect them from the immune system. Some have been more effective than others.

new study examines the effectiveness of caging pancreatic islets in a multilayer hydrogel nanofilm. The nanofilm combines monophenol-modified glycol chitosan and hyaluronic acid to create a thin protective barrier that still enables oxygen and nutrients to flow into the caged cells while also allowing insulin and waste to flow out. In addition, it provides immunoisolation, eliminating the need for immunosuppressants.

When tested in T1D-induced mouse models, the nanofilm-caged spheroids were able to achieve normoglycemia compared to control groups. Scientists further evaluated their effectiveness by removing the kidney where the spheroids had been transplanted. As a result, the mice experienced hyperglycemia once again. Using a multilayer hydrogel nanofilm provided protection against mechanical stress and immune response while enabling the islets to regulate blood glucose levels.

Although this approach has only been tested on mouse models thus far, it provides a new approach for cell-based therapies. More research and testing are needed to determine if this transplantation method triggers the same effects in humans. It could one day open the door to new treatment options for individuals with type 1 diabetes.

Though not involved in this study, the Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is committed to furthering research around T1D to improve diagnosis, treatment, and management of the disease and find a cure one day. The organization provides critical funding to early-career scientists pursuing novel research studies on T1D. Learn more and support current projects by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org

Please DONATE NOW so DRC can keep bringing you credible, peer-reviewed T1D news and research.

Thank you.

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Dana Levin

Getting to know Fellow T1D – Dana Levin at Centura Wealth Advisory

Diabetes has taught me throughout my life to always have a backup plan for the backup plan. From the early days in 1994 when I was first diagnosed with T1D, my doctors always recommended keeping a snack and glucose tablets with me in case my blood sugars dipped low. To this day, my purse is always loaded with granola bars, nuts, and candy – it’s like a compact mini-mart. And it comes in handy often when restaurants take longer to bring the food than expected, and I’ve already bolused, or I find myself walking further on the beach than anticipated, and I feel my body starting to shake. When I travel, especially internationally, I make sure to keep a loaner insulin pump with me as well as pump and CGM supplies stashed in multiple suitcases and syringes with back up forms of insulin in case something crazy happens – and crazy, unexpected things always happen while traveling (it’s part of the adventure) and so long as I have my backups in place, my diabetes doesn’t have to control my life or plans.

As a newly diagnosed T1D at the age of 12, I never could have imagined how diabetes would impact the course of my career. Philanthropy has always been an essential part of my life, and giving back to the community was modeled for me at home by my parents, who were both educators in the public school system. My parents encouraged me to participate in many Walks for Diabetes and as part of the event, to send fundraising letters to friends and family. This annual exercise and leadership opportunity, coupled with many other volunteer experiences, guided me towards a career focused on philanthropy and giving back to the community. For 16 years, I worked as a fundraiser in a variety of nonprofit organizations, including one in the T1D space. I loved this work, and it has guided me to my current role at Centura Wealth Advisory as the Director of Philanthropic Strategies.

For the past year, I have been partnering with families to ensure that they have financial and philanthropic plans in place for their estate – both short and long-term. Together, we walk through conversations about their legacy and dreams as they plan for the future. The global pandemic of this past year has caused many families to either put living wills and trusts in place with a financial planner and estate attorney or to brush off older documents to ensure their intentions are still accurate. For those who have not done this yet, it is a highly recommended practice, so when life happens, financial decisions don’t need to be added to already stressful situations, medical or otherwise. This is having your backup plan in place, so to speak.

As someone with T1D, I never thought I would qualify for life insurance, one key component of an ultimate backup plan. I was concerned that if something happened to me, would my husband be able to pay our mortgage and take care of our family? Thankfully, a small handful of life insurance carriers will offer life insurance to people who live with T1D. Getting this coverage has provided me relief and comfort as well as filled a gap in my estate plan. With an A1c of 6.3, which I work on every single day, I focus on keeping myself as healthy and complication-free as possible; however, I know that as life changes, I can sleep better (despite my Dexcom beeping at me) because I have this coverage. In addition to partnering and supporting families at Centura as they build their estate plans, I am confident that my personal backup plan is also in place to provide for my family. I encourage everyone to have conversations with the trusted financial services professionals in your lives to ensure you have your plans in place so that you can live a more peaceful life.

Dana began working at Centura Wealth Advisory in 2020 as the Client Relationship Manager. She joined the team to bring together her passion for philanthropy with her commitment to help families build wealth and give back to the community. 

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