JDRF Children’s Congress Advocates for Renewed Funding for Type 1 Diabetes Research on Capitol Hill

JDRF, along with more than 160 children with type 1 diabetes, thank Senators Collins and Casey for their support of the Special Diabetes Program during Senate hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 10, 2019) — JDRF, the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, today brought leading voices in the T1D community, including more than 160 children with the disease, to Washington to urge Congress to renew the Special Diabetes Program. The delegates advocated for a five-year renewal of the program before federal diabetes research funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) expires on September 30, 2019.

Today, at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing, “Redefining Reality: How the Special Diabetes Program is Changing the Lives of Americans with Type 1 Diabetes,” actor Victor Garber, who was diagnosed with T1D at age 11, and JDRF’s President and CEO Aaron J. Kowalski, PhD, testified along with two Children’s Congress delegates, Ruby Anderson, a 9-year-old from Yarmouth, Maine, and Adriana Richard, a 16-year-old from Milton, Pennsylvania.

“The Special Diabetes Program (SDP) is making a tremendous difference in our lives today and in our hopes for the future,” said Aaron J. Kowalski, PhD, JDRF President and CEO, during his testimony. “The strong bipartisan support for the SDP has led to numerous research breakthroughs that are bringing us closer to our ultimate goal of curing this disease.”

JDRF is grateful to Susan Collins (R-ME), chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, and Ranking Member Robert Casey (D-PA), for leading the hearing and their ongoing commitment to the future of T1D research, which has implications across numerous diseases. Bills to renew SDP funding have been introduced in the House and Senate and include five years of funding. Senate bill 1895, the Lower Health Care Costs Act, was recently passed out of committee. Due to their foresight to invest in multi-year funding for SDP research, the lives of people with T1D have been dramatically changed.

“Thanks in large part to the Special Diabetes Program, living with type 1 diabetes today is very different than back when I was a teenager,” said Emmy- and Tony-nominated actor Victor Garber in his testimony.

Griffin P. Rodgers, MD, MACP, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at NIH also testified on the scientific value of this federal research program. Research funded by the SDP has led to the development of diabetes management technology like continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and artificial pancreas systems, as well as significant progress to reduce complications from diabetes-related eye disease and new immune therapies that can delay the onset of T1D.

“We need the SDP for research to help our everyday lives with T1D – to help scientists and engineers invent things like CGMs that have changed my life,” said Children’s Congress delegate Adriana Richard in her remarks.

A long-term renewal of the SDP will advance new research that is essential to achieving JDRF’s vision of a world without T1D. In her testimony, Children’s Congress delegate Ruby Anderson emphasized, “We need more research to find a cure. We need even better devices. And we need to figure out what causes T1D so we can stop it.”

Following the hearing, Children’s Congress delegates from all 50 states met with Senators and Representatives to advocate for their continued support of T1D research. Legislative progress to date includes 68 Senators and 378 Representatives signing letters to their leadership calling for the SDP’s renewal, which currently provides $150 million in research funding each year.

“I’ve seen firsthand how this combination of federal diabetes research funding and JDRF’s private investment constitutes one of the most effective public-private partnerships focused on curing a chronic disease,” Dr. Kowalski said. “We need Congress to enact a five-year renewal of the program. When this research is interrupted there are real consequences – it’s too important to have an expiration date.”

About JDRF Children’s Congress

JDRF Children’s Congress was inspired by (then) eight-year-old Tommy Solo from Massachusetts, in 1999. He overheard adult JDRF volunteers talking about going to Washington, D.C. to talk to Congress and thought it was important that children go, too, and make their voices heard. JDRF Children’s Congress inspires national lawmakers to remember the children who live with T1D when making decisions about medical research funding and voting on other important Federal Government issues relating to diabetes. The young Delegates’ personal stories, told in their own words, are often more powerful than almost any other type of education a legislator and staff can receive. Tommy’s idea quickly became a well-developed event, first held in 1999. Since then, JDRF Children’s Congress has occurred every other year. To learn more about JDRF Children’s Congress, visit cc.jdrf.org.

About JDRF

JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Our mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. To accomplish this, JDRF has invested more than $2 billion in research funding since our inception. We are an organization built on a grassroots model of people connecting in their local communities, collaborating regionally for efficiency and broader fundraising impact, and uniting on a national stage to pool resources, passion, and energy. We collaborate with academic institutions, policymakers, and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with T1D. Our staff and volunteers throughout the United States and our six international affiliates are dedicated to advocacy, community engagement and our vision of a world without T1D. For more information, please visit jdrf.org or follow us on Twitter: @JDRF