JDRF Honors Researchers Whose Insights on Early Type 1 Diabetes Development Have Set the Stage for Disease Prevention in Children

Contact: Tara Wilcox-Ghanoonparvar, 212-479-7524; twilcox-ghanoonparvar@jdrf.org

–The three winners of JDRF’s 2013  Mary Tyler Moore and S. Robert Levine, M.D., Excellence in Clinical Research Award have provided critical insights into the type 1 diabetes disease process in young children, laying the groundwork for targeted disease prevention strategies—

Barcelona, Spain, September 25, 2013–JDRF awarded three talented scientists its prestigious Mary Tyler Moore and S. Robert Levine, M.D., Excellence in Clinical Research Award today, recognizing their important contributions toward understanding the natural history and pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes (T1D) in children. The awardees were honored during a ceremony at the 49th annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Barcelona, Spain.

The Excellence in Clinical Research Award recognizes notable clinical and translational T1D research, and this year’s three recipients lent their talents to an area of T1D science that is increasing in importance – understanding the natural history of the disease. This understanding is key to slowing or stopping the increasing incidence among children under age 14, which is estimated to rise by three percent annually worldwide.

Award winners Anette-Gabriele Ziegler, M.D., with the Technical University of Munich, who led the BABYDIAB study in Germany; Marian Rewers, M.D., with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, who led the DAISY study in the United States; and Olli Simell, M.D., Ph.D., with  the University of Turku, who led the DIPP study in Finland, all followed children from birth to identify risk factors associated with T1D and the development of islet autoantibodies – markers that indicate the activation of the autoimmune attack on insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. T1D occurs when these beta cells are destroyed by the immune system, rendering people with the disease unable to produce their own insulin. Their findings have demonstrated that the T1D disease process commonly begins in the first one to three years of life and progresses with a variable time period until the onset of T1D symptoms. Data from the three studies contributed to a larger analysis titled “Seroconversion to Multiple Islet Autoantibodies and Risk of Progression to Diabetes in Children,” published in June in The Journal of the American Medical Association. The global analysis revealed that nearly 70 percent of the 585 young children studied in all three countries who had two or more autoantibodies developed T1D within 10 years. The findings suggest that in certain children the disease process becomes established relatively early in life, which means that interventions to prevent the loss of insulin independence must be instituted at an early age.

“JDRF is grateful for the outstanding leadership and collaborative spirit of Drs. Ziegler, Rewers, and Simell, whose insights have helped to provide our current scientific foundation for the prevention of childhood onset type 1 diabetes,” says Richard Insel, M.D., JDRF’s chief scientific officer. “Their research has confirmed that type 1 diabetes is a disease process that begins long before clinical symptoms appear. Furthermore, it has defined those children at greatest risk of becoming insulin dependent in the shortest period of time, and who can benefit most from prevention therapies.”

The natural history studies created by Drs. Ziegler, Rewers, and Simell also helped to lay the foundation for The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) study, a global consortium funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that represents the most comprehensive effort ever to identify environmental origins of T1D. TEDDY is supported through funding from the federally-funded Special Diabetes Program (SDP), which accounts for roughly one third of the federal investment in T1D research performed in the United States.

“We are thankful that these awardees continue to contribute to important type 1 diabetes research, which will be paramount in helping JDRF reach our goal of preventing the disease,” Dr. Insel continues.

The Excellence in Clinical Research Award is named in honor of JDRF’s international chairman, Mary Tyler Moore – who has had T1D for over 40 years – and her husband, S. Robert Levine, M.D., for their extraordinary commitment to JDRF’s efforts to find a cure for T1D and improve the lives of those living with the disease through the support of research.

“Drs. Ziegler, Rewers, and Simell embody the spirit of this award through their lifetime of work toward better understanding the cause, development, and outcomes of type 1 diabetes,” say Ms. Moore and Dr. Levine. “We are proud to present this year’s award to these three esteemed researchers, and are thankful for the critical insights they have contributed, and continue to contribute, helping us find the means to reverse the growing incidence and prevalence of this complex disease and create a world without type 1 diabetes.”


About Mary Tyler Moore and S. Robert Levine
Mary Tyler Moore has served as JDRF’s International Chairman for 29 years, supporting the organization’s mission with a willingness to share her personal story of type 1 diabetes (T1D) publicly. Her frequent visits to Capitol Hill, her Congressional testimony, and her highly visible public service campaigns have helped to strengthen JDRF’s research and advocacy efforts on behalf of people with T1D. She and her husband, Dr. S. Robert Levine, have contributed generously to JDRF, initiating such programs as JDRF’s Stem Cell Research Fund. A leading JDRF volunteer, Dr. Levine has served on the International Board of Directors and Executive Committee, as Chairman of the Board committees for Clinical Affairs, Government Relations Marketing and Communications, and IT, and has served continuously on the Research Committee since 1990. Dr. Levine is currently a JDRF Chancellor.

About JDRF
JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. JDRF’s goal is to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people’s lives until we achieve a world without T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners and is the only organization with the scientific resources, regulatory influence, and a working plan to better treat, prevent, and eventually cure T1D.

As the largest charitable supporter of T1D research, JDRF is currently sponsoring $530 million in scientific research in 17 countries. In 2012 alone, JDRF provided more than $110 million to T1D research. More than 80 percent of JDRF’s expenditures directly support research and research-related education. In 2012 Forbes magazine named JDRF one of its five All-Star charities, citing the organization’s efficiency and effectiveness.