University of Michigan Health System: Research Partner and JDRF One Walk Top Team

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In Michigan, 72,000 adults and children have type one diabetes (T1D), and at least $8 billion was spent to treat diabetes (both diagnosed and undiagnosed) in 2011 alone.

JDRF One Walk, JDRF’s flagship fundraising event and the largest T1D event in the world, is raising critical funds to help turn Type One into Type None, with the help of family and corporate fundraising teams, like the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) team, organized by the University’s Brehm Center.

The Brehm Center was founded at the University of Michigan in 2004 to take on the complex challenges of modern medical science. Within the Brehm Center is the Brehm Coalition of research leaders from several major universities who represent the fields of immunology and beta cell biology – two key areas related to type one.

From 2004-2014, JDRF has invested $35 million in promising research at the UMHS for T1D. One of the recent commitments included a $1 million two-year partnership, the first of its kind, between JDRF, the Brehm Center and the Brehm Coalition. The collaboration’s focus is on the evaluation of a new hypothesis for why beta cells lose their ability to produce insulin, resulting in T1D.

To date, it has widely been believed that the loss of beta cell function was driven by beta cell death. The new hypothesis suggests that loss of beta cell function may be the result of a regression of those cells to a less mature state, causing the inability to produce insulin effectively (or at all). If this hypothesis proves correct, a whole new set of strategies to prevent T1D and to restore insulin production in those already affected by T1D could arise.

The dedication to finding a cure goes beyond the UMHS’ own research. In 2014, the UMHS team was one of the top corporate teams with more than 140 participants raising $17,000 for JDRF One Walk in AnnArbor, Mich. UMHS also supports Walk as a Platinum Sponsor, contributing $10,000 in both 2014 and 2015.

“Our team’s participants are driven to be part of the cure. They are staff and faculty who provide clinical services for JDRF, researchers of type one diabetes, have T1D or know someone with T1D,” said Team Captain Dorene Markel, M.S., M.H.S.A., director at The Brehm Center and assistant research scientist in the Department of Learning Health Sciences.

JDRF One Walk draws an enthusiastic crowd of all ages, driven to support a great cause while enjoying an event that features food, fun, entertainment, children’s activities and special attractions. On-site registration for the JDRF One Walk at Hudson Mills begins at 8:30 a.m., and the approximately 5k Walk begins at 9:30 a.m., rain or shine.

For information about participating in clinical research studies at the University of Michigan Health System, visit