Special Diabetes Program

The Special Diabetes Program (SDP) is a critical program that provides $150 million annually for type 1 diabetes (T1D) research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the country’s premier medical research agency. 

Securing a multi-year renewal of the SDP is JDRF’s top legislative priority, and efforts to ensure this important program continues are well underway.

Recent Milestones

Through your tremendous support and engagement, Congress passed – and the President signed – an extension of the SDP on March 27, 2020 that will carry funding through November 2020. Thank Congress today! This remarkable achievement was the culmination of an extensive advocacy campaign involving JDRF volunteers, staff and our champions in Congress. Follow the milestones that helped us get to where we are today.

In the spring of 2019, our T1D champions – Congressional Diabetes Caucus Co-Chairs, Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO-1st) and Representative Tom Reed (R-NY-23rd), and Senate Diabetes Caucus Co-Chairs, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) – drove bipartisan efforts that resulted in 378 U.S. Representatives and 68 U.S. Senators signing letters to Congressional leadership in support of continued funding for the SDP. 

On September 17, 2019 JDRF, the ADA, the Endocrine Society and the National Indian Health Board led and sent letters to House and Senate Leadership, signed by 22 other organizations, urging them to ensure the SDP and SDPI continue without interruption. 

On September 20, the House took an important step by passing a short-term extension of the SDP as part of a continuing resolution (CR) that would keep the Federal government operating through November 21, and provide nearly $21.5 mil for T1D research. On September 26, the Senate took similar action, then sent the CR to the President’s desk for signing on September 27.

In late November, the House and Senate passed another CR, this time containing nearly $12 mil in SDP funding, and the President signed the spending bill quickly thereafter. This short-term patch through December 20 ensured critical T1D research would continue, and allowed Congress more time to pass a longer-term SDP renewal and come to an agreement on Federal spending for this fiscal year. Before the holiday recess yet another patch was passed, which would carry us to May 20, 2020.

All said, your advocacy efforts have led to Congress approving more than $175 mil for the SDP since October 1, 2019, but there will be additional steps in the renewal process, and we need your help! Sign-up to be an advocate today, and encourage friends and family to do the same to receive timely updates and actions you can take.

Why the SDP Renewal is Essential

Congress created the SDP back in 1997, thanks to the bipartisan leadership of U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, after a Congressional Diabetes Research Working Group reported serious limitations in diabetes research—for T1D in particular—largely due to inadequate funding. The SDP consists of two initiatives: one to advance T1D research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and the other to fund treatment, education and prevention programs for American Indian and Alaska Native populations, who are disproportionately affected by type 2 diabetes.

Since its inception, the SDP has shown tangible results by helping scientists make significant advances in cure therapies, prevention studies and treatments—including artificial pancreas technology and groundbreaking advances in vision improvement among people with diabetic eye disease. The program is currently funded at $150 million per year—making it an essential component of the overall Federal investment in diabetes research. The SDP demonstrates a real return on investment annually, making it a traditionally popularly supported program across the aisle.

However, multiple-year funding is essential to continuing large-scale trials, proactively planning next steps for research programs and allocating research dollars most effectively. That’s why we must continue to work to ensure that the SDP is consistently renewed by Congress.

Sign up to Be a JDRF Advocate

If you haven’t done so already, please sign up to be a JDRF Advocate. Your voice will help us make a difference in the fight to help turn ‘Type One into Type None.’