As the largest global private funder of research to cure, prevent and treat type 1 diabetes (T1D), we are accountable to our donors and to the larger T1D community. Continuing to engage in a transparent and constructive dialogue with the community about our progress unites us against our common foe—T1D.
No organization is more passionate, more committed and more impatient to make progress to deliver a cure and universal prevention of T1D than JDRF. The entire JDRF International Board of Directors and our CEO have personal connections to T1D, giving our leadership deep first-hand appreciation of the urgency to cure it and create a world without T1D.
In fiscal year 2015, JDRF dispensed $72 million in direct grants for research, and our FY16 figure will be modestly higher. While these figures are below the more recent historical levels, the reduction in spending is an anomaly that flowed from our decision several years ago to tap into our financial reserves so we could capitalize on exciting opportunities in high priority fields like artificial pancreas (AP) systems, encapsulated beta cells and glucose-responsive insulin (GRI). This short-term strategy allowed us to accelerate scientific progress even though we faced a revenue gap caused by lower donations in the wake of the Great Recession. Over the next five years, we expect to steadily and significantly increase direct research grants.
Looking solely at JDRF grant-making is an incomplete way to measure our broader contributions to T1D research. Consider these ways in which JDRF drives progress beyond direct grants to investigators.
• We constantly look for ways to leverage our spending to attract substantial additional dollars to T1D research. In FY15, JDRF attracted nearly $100 million in T1D research from governments, industry and foundations above and beyond the $72 million we committed (we estimate an even larger amount in 2016). And that figure does not include any corporate investment in projects that JDRF funded before companies took them over to advance them into the clinic. These investments by others do not show up in our financial statements, but they are no less impactful for their absence. Indeed, it’s indisputable that progress on therapies such as beta cell encapsulation and GRI—would not be nearly as advanced without our vision, leadership, support and leveraging strategy.
• Our public education spending, including advocacy, plays a critical role in generating progress, though this does not show up on our books as research spending. The Special Diabetes Program, which would not exist but for JDRF’s continued advocacy, has delivered $2.5 billion to academic investigators over its 19-year history. JDRF has been active in successfully securing insurance coverage for important T1D therapies, and we will fight to ensure that insurers understand the importance of making reimbursement decisions that will help people with T1D have better outcomes.
• The 10 international research consortia organized and run by JDRF bring together the best and brightest scientists from multiple disciplines to identify and solve major challenges in T1D research. The funding for these unique collaborative consortia comes entirely from JDRF’s operating budget, and they have directly contributed to accelerating progress in AP systems, beta cell encapsulation and other fields.
Our focus is on doing the greatest good for the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. We will continue to prioritize research on beta cell encapsulation, GRIs, AP systems and other glucose control products that have real potential to reach the market and help people lead safer and higher-quality lives.
We are extremely proud of the work we do and eager to continue to work with other organizations who genuinely share our vision, mission and strategy. Our determination to drive research, promote awareness and advocate product access and adoption is unwavering. JDRF is grateful for the support of so many people who help us carry out our mission and understand the challenges we all face in the fight to end this disease.