Introducing our Clinical Trials Education Volunteer: Tom Brobson


We are impatient. All of us are impatient. Impatient for the new therapies we hear about that could change our experience of type 1 diabetes (T1D) forever or even bring us the world without T1D we all dream about. We read about new insulins that could, for example, increase our ability to maintain good glucose control or other therapies that could prevent the onset of T1D altogether and wonder when they’ll reach us. The answer to this question and the ability to change the answer lies, in no small part, with us!

My name is Tom Brobson – you may have heard me speak at JDRF events across our region. I worked for JDRF for over 14 years and remain a passionate JDRF volunteer even in retirement. I was diagnosed with T1D in 2004. What you might not know is that I grew up in Alexandria and Washington, D.C. and for the last 32 years have lived on my Christmas tree farm in the New River Valley of Virginia near Virginia Tech. I have family in Maryland, DC and Virginia…from the mountains to the coast I’m vested in our Mid-Atlantic Chapter!

I’m now serving in a new volunteer role for the chapter – as a Clinical Trial Education Volunteer. In this role I will be a resource to help you find out about active clinical trials in our region, answer your questions, and even help you connect with the enrollment coordinators that run the trials.

Tom in an early artificial pancreas clinical trial in 2008.

A great JDRF success story of the past 15 years is the rapid growth in new therapies being tested in clinical trials. In 2004 when I was diagnosed there were perhaps seven trials underway – today there are over 150 trials actively enrolling people with T1D in the United States. I have personally participated in about 10 clinical trials. I was one of the first patients to test an artificial pancreas system at UVA in 2008, and that system is now commercially available on a Tandem pump.

The only way new life-changing therapies can reach us is by being tested and evaluated in clinical trials. There are about 20 trials actively enrolling in our chapter’s region. From ages 3 to 65+ there are trials where you can make a difference and help accelerate the development and approval of new life-changing therapies for T1D. Each month, I’ll highlight a different trial running in our region. The first one I’ve selected is at the University of Virginia:

STUDY OVERVIEW: This clinical trial will study the use of a closed-looped system (Tandem) and the addition of 5 mg of a medication used with T2D, if you are randomized into the experimental group. If you are randomized into the control group, you will still use the pump and CGM, but will not take the drug.

LOCATION: In your own home after one trip to Charlottesville to enroll.

PARTICIPANTS NEEDED: They need about 20 more participants aged 18 – 65.

REIMBURSEMENT: There is a $300 honorarium for participating in the trial; the pump and all medications are supplied.

ENROLLMENT COORDINATOR: Contact Laura Kollar at 434-982-6479 or Reference the SGLT2 study.


If you have questions about clinical trials, please reach out to me at