DRC Funding Precipitates $1M Grant

Securing adequate funding is imperative for scientists to explore novel ideas and advance their research. Unfortunately, federal funding can be incredibly competitive, and organizations are not always willing to take chances on high-risk projects. This makes other funding sources – such as the Diabetes Research Connection – all the more important. And one person who knows this well is Duc Dong, Ph.D.

Dr. Dong is an assistant professor in the Human Genetics Program at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, and a recent recipient of a $1M grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation.  This grant will be used to further his research into reprogramming some of the body’s own cells to take on new functions, such as converting skin cells into cells that would ultimately be able to produce insulin. Dr. Dong is developing a process to do this without removing the cells from the body or transplanting manipulated cells. This has the potential to be a huge step forward in treating and potentially curing type 1 diabetes.

However, prior to being awarded the W.M. Keck Foundation grant, one of Dr. Dong’s investigators in his lab, Joseph Lancman, Ph.D., received nearly $47,000 in funding through the Diabetes Research Connection. This allowed Dr. Dong’s lab to move forward with his research on reprogramming cells and build a stronger foundation to support the work that he will do with the Keck Foundation grant.

“The Diabetes Research Connection, like the Keck Foundation, plays a critical role in biomedical science by supporting innovative projects that most other funding sources consider high-risk,” says Dr. Dong. “However, these high-risk projects have high-reward potential, essential for stemming next generation technologies. My vision is to advance in-vivo lineage conversion technology to make it a practical new approach for regenerative medicine.”

The Diabetes Research Connection celebrates Dr. Dong’s continued success and is excited to see how this grant will help him to further develop his ideas and take them to the next level. The organization is proud to have been able to support him in the earlier stages of his work and is committed to providing critical funding to innovative research projects regarding type 1 diabetes. To learn more or contribute to current projects, visit DiabetesResearchConnection.org.

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