Jeffrey Millman, Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis, opens his lab to local T1D families
Dr. Jeff Millman may not have a family connection with type 1 diabetes (T1D) but he does have a profound personal and professional commitment to curing it, thanks to the relationships he has built through the Greater Missouri and Southern Illinois Chapter of JDRF. “There’s a reason we do this research. It’s not just a purely academic exercise. Interacting with people who could potentially benefit from our work is so motivating,” Dr. Millman explains.
He and his research team participate in JDRF One Walk and developed an outreach program with the JDRF chapter in St. Louis. Local schoolchildren who have T1D visit his lab, along with their parents, and meet the researchers. “They get to ask questions, put on safety glasses and lab coats, and try some basic lab work. It’s really a lot of fun.” He designed the tours to pique the kids’ interest in a career or education in science, but they’ve proven popular with parents, too. “A lot of the parents had been walking with JDRF and raising money for T1D research for many years, but I don’t think any of them had toured a research lab before—they never actually saw research in action. They have really enjoyed seeing what research looks like and meeting the people they are supporting through JDRF.”
Dr. Millman’s lab is working on islet cell therapies, which he considers the future for T1D. “Short of preventing T1D from ever forming, which is something we’d all love to have happen, it is really the only therapy that would mean people don’t have to think about their diabetes on a day-to-day basis,” he says. Dr. Millman currently has a Career Development Award from JDRF, which provides five years of funding and the opportunity to collaborate with other JDRF-funded scientists through JDRF’s Encapsulation Consortium, a multi-disciplinary group of researchers focused on advancing cell therapies. “This award gives me the financial freedom to dedicate myself to T1D research, pushing this forward a lot faster, which is fantastic for all of us,” he says. “The reason I’m doing this research and working with JDRF is because I care deeply about a cure for T1D.”