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 this year is one of JDRF’s top legislative priorities, and efforts to ensure this important program continues are already well underway.

Thanks to Congressional Diabetes Caucus Co-Chairs Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Representative Tom Reed (R-NY), and Senate Diabetes Caucus Co-Chairs Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) for championing efforts that culminated in 378 U.S. Representatives and 68 U.S. Senators signing letters to Congressional leadership in support of continued funding support for the SDP. This bipartisan support will help to ensure critical T1D research continues.

On September 17, JDRF, 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, thus sending the CR to the President’s desk for signing. (Say ‘thank you’ to your Representative and Senators today!) This funding patch would give Congress more time to pass a longer-term SDP renewal, and come to an agreement on the Federal budget for this fiscal year.

We’re pleased to share that on September 27, the President signed the CR thus, finalizing this funding stream.

There will be many additional steps in the process and we will need your help. Sign-up to be an advocate, 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—such as the most recent two-year renewal—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 the Congress.

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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.