ANN ARBOR – Michigan Medicine has partnered with type 1 diabetes research nonprofit JDRF to establish the new JDRF Center of Excellence at the University of Michigan.
The goal of the center, through U-M’s Elizabeth Weiser Caswell Diabetes Institute, is to accelerate research to cure type 1 diabetes and to improve lives. This includes safer day-to-day management of diabetes and improving health for those living with T1D by understanding metabolism in teenagers, young adults and those living long term with the condition.
The Center of Excellence was made possible by a grant from JDRF of $7.37 million. Both partners aim to raise nearly $14 million, with JDRF’s goal of more than $7 million and Michigan’s Medicine goal of $6.5 million for the new COE.
In addition to researching the human metabolism and driving a cure, the COE will advance the Elizabeth Weiser Caswell Diabetes Institute’s broad expertise in understanding beta cells that create insulin, and will aim to address life-threatening complications from T1D, including psychological effects.
Ann Arbor resident Elizabeth Weiser Caswell and her father, Regent Ron Weiser, have made leadership gifts to kickstart the project.
Read: University of Michigan regent, wife donate $30M for new diabetes institute
Caswell’s husband, Trey, and two of her three sons have T1D. Her personal experience drove her to become a T1D advocate. Currently an executive committee member of the board of directors of JDRF’s Metro Detroit/Southeast Michigan Chapter, Caswell said she is excited for the new collaboration and hopes it will deliver breakthroughs for T1D.
“Michigan Medicine is the ideal partner for JDRF,” Caswell said in a news release. “The Pediatric Endocrinology team at Michigan has been there for our family very step of the way — advising us on daily care, advances in treatment technologies, and opportunities for clinical research. U-M is asking questions that aren’t being asked. I think the science is so exciting and there are so many areas where we’re poised for a breakthrough.”
“This center offers us game-changing possibilities,” Sanjoy Dutta, Ph.D., vice president of reseSanarch at JDRF, said in a news release. “Through it, we will be able to accelerate the depth of work already underway, connect to other critical projects and readily collaborate in ways not previously possible. This center is a partnership of strengths that we know will advance research in meaningful ways, and, we all hope, will deliver cures for T1D.”
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An autoimmune disease, T1D causes a person’s pancreas to stop producing insulin, a hormone that allows people to get energy from food. In people with T1D, their body’s immune system attacks and destroys beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
Scientists are still trying to understand what causes the condition but believe that both environmental triggers and genetic factors are involved. Unlike T2D, the onset of T2D has nothing to do with lifestyle or diet.
There is no cure for the disease and it is not preventable.