The University of Michigan announced the establishment of the Elizabeth Weiser Caswell Diabetes Institute at Michigan Medicine in collaboration with other university schools and units.
A $30 million gift from the Weiser family of Ann Arbor will support diabetes research and the development of life-changing diabetes therapies.
The Institute will centralize and coordinate campus resources — anchored by a group of more than 250 world-renowned, dynamic researchers in diabetes, diabetic complications, obesity and metabolism — and allow University of Michigan to bring new depth and discovery to the quest for answers to diabetes.
Two of Caswell’s three sons have type 1 diabetes (T1D), as does her husband.
“One of the things that has filled me with great pride is my volunteer work on the Research Committee at JDRF. I’ve seen the progress that has happened since I met my husband in 1991 to having continuous glucose monitors and pumps that interact to make automated insulin delivery devices and there are more exciting potential changes on the horizon that will reduce the daily burden for people living with T1D,” said Caswell, also of Ann Arbor. “I’m so hopeful about cures for T1D that involve beta cell replacement and immunotherapies—these have the potential to impact millions of people.”
“Diabetes is so hard. You don’t want to think about complications, but you know they’re out there,” Caswell added. “Diabetes doesn’t allow anybody to shut down and forget about it; there’s no break. Fortunately, the team at Michigan Medicine has been there for us every step of the way — advising us on daily care, advances in treatment technologies, and opportunities for clinical research. Until T1D is cured, we are grateful for top-notch care at one of the best research institutions in the world.”
“Elizabeth has been a relentless educator and advocate for people with diabetes and for diabetes research,” said Ron Weiser, Caswell’s father, a member of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, who with his wife , Eileen, made the gift for the institute. “Our family hopes that the collaboration among physicians, researchers, innovators and advocates across campus will allow the work she’s done — and continues to do — to be rewarded with cures for diabetes.”
Type 1 diabetes affects nearly 1.6 million Americans. Research is invaluable to the T1D community as each discovery brings us closer to finding cures and new treatments that help ease the daily burden of living with T1D.
“This gift is transformational,” said Marschall S. Runge, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for medical affairs, dean of the University of Michigan Medical School and CEO of Michigan Medicine. “We are immensely grateful to the Weisers for opening the doors that enable our physicians and researchers to push the boundaries that will transition cutting-edge discoveries in diabetes investigations into lifesaving therapies for children and adults.”
Caswell, who received JDRF’s 2019 Huntsman Family Community Engagement Award, is a champion for the JDRF Center of Excellence at the University of Michigan.
“The Center was inspirational to the gift that my family made to form the Institute,” Caswell said. “The Institute is larger in focus. It’s type 1, it’s type 2, it’s metabolic, it’s policy, it’s public health, it’s psychosocial. It’s anything and everything that touches diabetes across the entire University of Michigan with the cornerstone being scientific and medical research.
“By approaching things across disciplines, I hope that we can accelerate life-changing treatments and cures,” Caswell said.