ISF-JDRF Joint Program Awards Third Group of Research Grants

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

Collaboration to advance type 1 diabetes research in Israel funds two scientists working at the forefront of JDRF priority research areas—

New York, NY, September 12, 2013– JDRF and the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) today announced the names of grant recipients in the third round of funding awarded by the ISF-JDRF Joint Program in Type 1 Diabetes Research. The two scientists will each receive up to $130,000 per year for up to three years in support of projects in two of JDRF’s priority research areas—beta cell encapsulation and antigen-specific immunomodulation for beta cell restoration.

The ISF-JDRF Joint Program was established in 2010 with a threefold mandate: 1) accelerate research into life-changing treatments and a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D); 2) increase support of Israel’s rising talent and expertise in the areas of autoimmunity and beta cell biology; and 3) foster cross-disciplinary collaboration between T1D experts and scientists in other fields. The program funded a total of 10 scientists in its first two years and this year is funding two more:

  • Sarah Ferber, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor, Chaim Sheba Medical Center
    Dr. Ferber will study a subpopulation of human liver cells that are prone to self-reprogramming into beta cells. She aims to characterize the cells at the molecular, cellular, and functional levels and to determine whether they carry potential for cell-replacement therapy. Further goals include developing methods to isolate these cells before reprogramming.“Dr. Ferber was one of the first to champion the potential for transdifferentiation of human liver cells. This exciting work may ultimately lead to more efficient means of isolating and growing replacement beta cells,” says Adrianne L. Wong, Ph.D., a senior scientist in cure therapies at JDRF.
  • Yoram Reiter, Ph.D.
    Professor of Biology, Technion—Israel Institute of Technology
    Building upon the pilot/feasibility grant he received from the ISF-JDRF Joint Program last year, Dr. Reiter will study antigen-specific immunotherapy for T1D by novel recombinant autoantibodies. The project will focus on T cell receptor–like antibody to induce tolerance of an epitope of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), an autoantigen believed to be centrally involved in triggering T1D. Dr. Reiter will collaborate with Gerald T. Nepom, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Benaroya Research Institute in Seattle.“Dr. Reiter’s preliminary data is very compelling,” says Dr. Wong, “and this collaboration is an exciting opportunity to bring new perspectives from cancer, autoimmunity, and inflammation to translational questions in autoimmune diabetes.”

“The joint program between JDRF and the Israel Science Foundation has helped promote, prioritize, and develop the field of beta cell biology and type 1 diabetes research in Israel,” says Professor Shulamit Michaeli, chair of the LifeSci/Medicine Division of the ISF. “We are beginning to see interesting publications from these funded projects, confirming our belief in the productiveness of this collaboration.”

JDRF’s commitment to the research partnership with ISF was made possible through a seed grant from philanthropists Neil and Lisa Wallack, which created the Israel Initiative fund. The three rounds of grants so far awarded have been funded jointly by JDRF and the ISF.

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.

About ISF
The Israel Science Foundation (ISF) is Israel’s predominant source of competitive grants funding basic research. Its roughly $60 million annual budget funds more than 1,300 grants a year, providing two-thirds of all such funds. The ISF awards grants in all fields of exact sciences and technology; life sciences and medicine; and humanities and social sciences. The ISF also supports a variety of newer programs designed to help keep Israel within the international competition in forefront areas of modern science.