JDRF funding jump-starts and sustains progress toward a T1D cure
Later this year, Patrick Collombat, Ph.D., of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), will launch a new clinical trial. It will tell us whether a compound called GABA, which produces new beta cells in mice, can do the same thing in people. If it works, it could lead to a biological cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D), a disease that affects over 1.25 million Americans today.
“It is a fantastic opportunity that we have here,” says Dr. Collombat. “We have pretty much arrived at the limit of what we can learn from animal models, and now we are starting clinical trials to check whether this approach can truly help type 1 diabetes patients. It’s really exciting.”
Dr. Collombat has been pursuing this potential cure for T1D for more than a decade with JDRF support, including a Career Development Award (CDA) in 2010. CDAs are five-year awards designed to attract exceptionally promising scientists early in their faculty careers and position them to work at the leading edge of T1D research. “The CDA was really a jump-starter for my career,” says Dr. Collombat. “Without the JDRF CDA, none of this would have happened. Five years means you have time to develop a high-risk, high-reward project. This is where real innovation is coming from—making new advances because you have time and funding to do it.”
Now an established investigator, Dr. Collombat has become a mentor to other scientists at the start of their own careers. His laboratory has nurtured more than a dozen trainees, some of whom now head their own research groups or work on the pharmaceutical side of diabetes research. “It’s a virtuous circle; when you jump-start things, lots of people benefit in the end.”
Meet the scientists whose careers we are jump-starting next!