CEO Perspective: Building on the foundation of progress

By Jeffrey Brewer

When JDRF was asked to submit an article to Diabetes, a medical journal of the American Diabetes Association (ADA), our organization’s leaders recognized the superb opportunity offered by this request. As a result, “Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation: Mission, Strategy, and Priorities” was published in the January 2012 issue ofDiabetes in the journal’s “Perspectives in Diabetes” section.

The publication of JDRF’s story was an opportunity for our organization to communicate about its mission, strategy, and priorities in one of the highest-ranked journals devoted to type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes. A monthly publication, Diabetes is considered the fourth of 92 publications in the field of endocrinology and metabolism (which encompasses T1D) and the second among journals that publish original research (from laboratory, animal, and human studies) in this field. The thousands of readers of Diabetes include physicians, scientists, and other diabetes experts who work in research and clinical settings.

The JDRF “Perspectives” article was written by JDRF President and CEO Jeffrey Brewer, Chief Scientific Officer Richard A. Insel, M.D., and Senior Vice President of Research Darlene Deecher, Ph.D. Assistant Vice President of Cure Therapies Julia L. Greenstein, Ph.D., and Assistant Vice President of Treat Therapies Aaron J. Kowalski, Ph.D., also contributed to the article.

Although our CEO was asked by the editors of Diabetes to write a personal letter to introduce the article, the journal later decided to withhold printing it. We think the letter is a powerful statement about the mission of JDRF and the exceptional commitment that every member of the T1D community not only takes to heart, but also acts on with unwavering purpose. We’ve published the letter here for our Countdown readers.

A message from Jeffrey Brewer, JDRF president and CEO 

I’m fortunate to be serving as CEO of JDRF at a very exciting time in our organization’s history. Today we are able to build on the foundation of progress achieved over the last 41 years of JDRF-supported type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. While the outlines of a cure for T1D are still coming into focus, I am optimistic that that we now have a direct line of sight to new treatment therapies that will fundamentally transform how people live with the disease. Therapeutics such as an artificial pancreas, encapsulated islets, and glucose-responsive insulin hold the promise not only to improve health outcomes, but, perhaps more importantly, to lift the daily burden of living with this oppressive disease. Furthermore, our enhanced understanding of the pathophysiology of human T1D presents us with an opportunity that we plan to fully seize—namely, prevention of the disease in those at risk and those already in the pre-clinical stages of developing the disease.

While our ultimate goal—curing T1D—remains unchanged, we are today equally committed to preventing and better treating the disease. JDRF-led research will encompass T1D at every life stage: stopping or slowing its progression in people who are newly diagnosed; reversing it in those who have lived with the disease for years; preventing the disease in people at risk and in future generations; and improving treatment of T1D by providing better tools to achieve tight glucose control for people at all stages of the disease.

Although JDRF has traditionally been identified as a research funding organization that was exclusively focused on exploratory and basic research in academia, in the last five years, our role has broadened significantly in scope. Today we play a variety of roles through both our research funding and our advocacy efforts, contributing to what is becoming a robust research pipeline for T1D therapeutics. Across this pipeline, JDRF funds research at exploratory and discovery stages through to pre-clinical and clinical development. We have also aggressively increased our advocacy efforts to assist in defining regulatory pathways for drugs and devices, and actively work to ensure that reimbursement and clinical adoption occurs for successful clinical delivery to patients. These additional roles are absolutely necessary to accelerate the delivery of transformative treatments, and eventually cure therapies, to the patient.

At the end of the day, our goal is to improve the lives of people suffering from T1D on the way to a cure that removes this disease from their lives entirely. We at JDRF no longer measure our success simply by advances in the science. Our role and responsibility extend to the translation of promising scientific discoveries into commercially viable therapies. It is these therapies that will transform the lives of people living with T1D. Our success will be measured by the wide clinical availability of those new therapies, and ultimately the delivery of a cure and prevention for T1D. We still have much work to do before we can declare victory and close up shop. However, the near-term prospects for people living with T1D, a group that includes my son, have never been more promising.

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