JDRF Presents Award Honoring Trailblazer Mary Tyler Moore

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Mary Tyler Moore would have been proud to have an award recognizing women who have made pioneering contributions to the fight against type 1 diabetes (T1D). Now, such an award exists!

Presented by JDRF, the new award honors the legacy of trailblazer and cultural icon Mary Tyler Moore, who was diagnosed with T1D at the age of 33. As international chairman of JDRF from 1984 to 2017, Moore used her influence to bring government, scientists, and people living with diabetes together to further T1D advocacy and innovation.

The award highlights the leadership of women who, like Mary, question the status quo, bravely take risks, and drive changes to improve the lives of those living with T1D.

The inaugural award goes to some of the most powerful women in the United States government who are fighting T1D: Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO). Each has provided exemplary leadership, demonstrated the strongest allyship to the T1D community, and has championed and passed legislation that will improve the lives of those living with T1D. These include the Special Diabetes Program (SDP)—which funds $150 million to diabetes research per year—and insulin affordability, including a cap on the price of insulin at $35 per month for Medicare enrollees.

“When most of the world thinks of Mary, they immediately picture Laurie Petrie from ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ or Mary Richards from the ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’ — or many of the numerous other roles she played,” said S. Robert Levine, M.D., her husband of more than 30 years and longtime leading JDRF volunteer. “But the biggest role she took on was her profoundly effective advocacy for support for federal funding of research to find cures for T1D and its complications, and her commitment to the T1D community.”  

“I am truly touched that the inaugural award in her name celebrates three government leaders—Susan Collins, Jeanne Shaheen, and Diana DeGette—who partnered with Mary to assure more federal funding of T1D research, including the funding of critical research resources, consortia, and clinical trial networks to bring us closer to cures,” Dr. Levine added.

One of Moore’s most significant achievements as JDRF international chairman was increased Congressional funding for the Special Diabetes Program (SDP) at the National Institutes of Health that has accelerated the pace of T1D research. This long-term investment in diabetes research has helped lead to significant scientific breakthroughs, including Tzield™ (teplizumab-mzwv), the first disease-modifying treatment for T1D which can delay the onset of the disease by more than two years.

“Thanks to the enduring efforts of Mary Tyler Moore, we are bringing new treatments forward and moving closer every day to cures for type 1 diabetes and its complications,” said Cynthia Rice, JDRF’s chief mission strategy officer. “Senators Collins and Shaheen and Representative DeGette have been steadfast allies in Congress to the T1D community. JDRF is proud to recognize their work as they carry Mary Tyler Moore’s legacy forward.”