OP-ED

 

Type 1 Diabetes Community Fights for a Major Increase in Cure Research

Type 1 diabetes is a life-threatening, progressive and incurable disease that results from a person's pancreas attacking and destroying the body' s cellular system resulting in the organ ceasing to function. Not to be confused with type 2 diabetes, which largely results from poor diet and exercise, type 1 has no known cause or cure and affects only about 10% of the overall diabetic community. T1D, as it is often referred to, requires aggressive patient self-management including multiple daily shots of insulin, frequent tests of blood sugar, financial burdens and the ever-present fear of future complications such as kidney disease, blindness, and death.

The longstanding promise of a cure for type 1 diabetes continues to get further away each day as major diabetes non-profit organizations have, over the last decade, shifted financial resources away from cure research into a variety of different initiatives ranging from fundraising to prevention and treatment. While these activities in and of themselves are positive and help support the more than 1.2 million Americans suffering from this life-threatening and incurable disease, the path to a permanent or practical cure is fundamentally paved by research.

While much has been accomplished by non-profit fundraising and advocacy groups such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and American Diabetes Association (ADA) over the years, a precipitous decline in research spending has slowed the path to progress and is often at odds with the intent of donors to the cause. Both those afflicted and those who support them fundamentally wish not for just improved treatment and education but to be free the strains of the illness—in short, A CURE!

As reported by the Juvenile Diabetes Cure Alliance (JDCA), a watchdog non-profit for the type 1 diabetic donor community, spending for cure research has declined dramatically since 2008. Currently, the JDRF generates an annual income of $197 million, but only 38% of it is being dedicated to research. JDRF research grant funding has dropped from $156 million in 2008 to $75 million in 2016. Additionally, while the ADA generates an annual income of $171 million, only 3% is put towards T1D research. The remainder of the funds are used for staffing, event production, overhead, education and prevention initiatives.

I believe we, as a diabetic community, can do more! Beginning with a return to 2008 levels of research funding, these organizations can best reflect the desires of the population that they serve. While the work that they do is laudable and have resulted in many successes, additional resources devoted to Practical Cure and cure research will further the cause of allowing those suffering from type 1 diabetes to live disease-free, once and for all.

I encourage your readers to help support the JDCA's efforts to devote a greater percentage of funding where it matters most. In its third year, the JDCA More for A Cure Petition sends this clear message to both the JDRF and ADA. I ask that those affected by diabetes and others who care about a cure, sign and share the JDCA petition at http://petition.thejdca.org/. Your voice signature can make all the difference in moving us closer to an America free of Type 1 diabetes.