You could call them brothers-in-arms in the battle against type 1 diabetes (T1D): Maarten de Groot, founder and president of JDRF Netherlands, our organization’s newest international affiliate; and Bart Roep, M.D., Ph.D., a clinical immunologist who leads a T1D research team at Leiden University Medical Center, in the Netherlands. Dr. Roep is one of the world’s most prominent and passionate T1D researchers.
The two men joined forces at an informational meeting about JDRF Netherlands that was held at the end of 2011. “The road to recovery is a marathon,” said Mr. De Groot in his opening speech. “The race is far from over, but the goal is slowly getting closer.”
Dr. Roep shared his excitement about JDRF Netherlands and the event. “Meeting up with Maarten makes my heart leap,” he stated. He explained that over the years, his T1D research team has been supported by nearly $15 million from JDRF; they are now also receiving funding from their homeland affiliate.
Mr. de Groot said that he founded JDRF Netherlands to encourage relevant research to find and fund ways to cure, treat, and prevent T1D. He also commented that the affiliate works to ensure that its national research complements research that is being conducted in other countries.
Four years ago, Mr. de Groot’s son Merijn was diagnosed with T1D. Merijn’s diagnosis catalyzed his father’s involvement with JDRF. In addition to founding the new Netherlands affiliate, Mr. de Groot is a member of the JDRF International Board of Directors. He thinks that a cure for T1D will be found within his son’s lifetime. “I have hope and a strong belief that we will find cures and treatments, and that we will be able to prevent T1D in many—if not all—cases,” he said. “The way it’s being approached by the scientists and volunteers working for JDRF makes me very hopeful that this will happen.”
The audience at the meeting was filled with children and adults with T1D and their families. One parent shared his grief about his child being diagnosed with T1D. However, he also expressed his gratitude that there is an organization that is committed to finding new treatments and potentially a cure for the disease. Another member of the audience expressed his enthusiasm for hearing about the latest developments in T1D research at the event: “When it comes to research to find a cure for type 1 diabetes, we are at the forefront—we have world-class scientists here, and JDRF should tell the world!”