Welcome to Countdown!

Darlene Deecher

Darlene Deecher, Senior Vice President, Research

This is a forum where you can learn about diabetes, follow JDRF’s remarkable efforts to fund life-changing treatments and therapies, and keep tabs on the job we are doing for you—people living with diabetes.

JDRF was founded 40 years ago to find a cure for type 1 diabetes. Since that time, a lot has been learned about the scientific underpinnings of the disease and significant scientific progress has been made in the search for a cure. Today, JDRF remains committed to advancing research toward better treatments and a cure for type 1 diabetes, with a keen eye toward turning promising insights into new therapeutics and devices for patients.

As the Senior Vice President for JDRF’s Research Department, I am excited to work with JDRF’s talented scientific team to help spearhead this effort. As a scientist who has worked within the pharmaceutical and biomedical industries for 16 years, I will be drawing on my experience and background to lead JDRF’s research efforts in what we call translational research. That is to say, taking early-stage research ideas and translating them to clinical outcomes for patients. This allows me to build on my longstanding interest in helping to bring products to market so that they can benefit patients.

Together with JDRF’s senior research team, I will work to ensure that appropriate priorities are established for JDRF research funds and that they are directed to improving the lives of people with type 1 diabetes.

As often stated by our President and CEO Jeffrey Brewer, “Research to cure, treat, and prevent diabetes represents an ambitious goal.” This ambitious goal is our charge within the Research Department. I take seriously the responsibilities of this role and its importance to the millions of people affected by type 1 diabetes.

The Power of JDRF-Funded Research
JDRF is in a unique position to advance research on type 1 diabetes and to ensure that it is translated into tangible and meaningful clinical results that will improve the life of every individual living with the disease.

We are doing everything we can to accelerate research progress. Since my appointment six months ago, I have worked with senior research leadership to take a closer look at how JDRF’s Research Department is organized. To that end, we evaluated the operational aspects of the Research Department. This included how we were organized, how we managed our research portfolio, and how we administered our funding.

We now divide our research efforts into the categories of Cure Therapies and Treatment Therapies, and we have established cooperative teams to work on projects that span those areas of concentration. This brings our scientists together to share research findings and identify common funding opportunities that will enable us to leverage our collective knowledge and accelerate research progress. What’s more, we have brought the team that manages JDRF’s grants into the Research Department to ensure that the administrative aspects of grant funding are aligned appropriately with the research focus areas.

You Asked, We Are Answering
In addition to implementing changes in the Research Department, we are focusing on doing a better job of communicating research progress. Explaining this clearly takes a unique combination of skills and capabilities, which we are dedicated to improving as we move forward. Better treatments and a cure do not happen overnight. Scientific progress is often a process of one step forward, two steps back, and “failure” is unfortunately more common than success. But even “failures” are an integral part of making progress. We at JDRF are going to make special efforts to communicate about the research that we fund in terms of its scientific potential and its realized impact on people who live with diabetes. You will hear us talking about research for individuals at risk for the disease; those who are newly diagnosed; and those who have been living with the disease for years.

As we have learned more about what causes type 1 diabetes, our understanding of what an eventual cure will look like has also evolved. It will be highly individual—depending on what stage of the disease any individual is in. We feel it is important that we communicate our research progress in ways that mean something to the individuals who will benefit from our research. You are, after all, at the center of everything we do!

As we all look to the future, I am committed to providing solutions that will increase our probability of success and accelerate the JDRF mission. I would like to thank the JDRF community for providing me the opportunity to take on the challenges that come with making a difference in the lives of people affected by type 1 diabetes. I look forward to frequently communicating our research progress!