Posted 18 June 2024

Father-Daughter Duo Walk 80km to Fund Research for Type 1 Diabetes

Twelve-year-old Zoe Whitbourne and her father Craig will be walking over 80 kilometres to raise money and awareness for the groundbreaking type 1 diabetes research being carried out at St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research (SVI) in Fitzroy, Victoria.   

Craig Whitbourne was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 25 years ago when he was 15 and was devastated when Zoe received her diagnosis in 2022 at the age of 9. 

“Type 1 diabetes can be unpredictable and time-consuming. Despite my experience living with this disease, watching Zoe navigate the grief, anger and sadness of this diagnosis is very difficult,” Craig said. 

Type 1 diabetes is a life-changing disease that is newly diagnosed in around 3,000 Australians each year. It is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system destroys its own insulin-producing beta cells. As a result, the 134,000 Australians living with the condition are unable to produce insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, and require daily insulin injections or the use of an insulin pump, as well as constant blood glucose monitoring. 

SVI Director, Professor Tom Kay and Professor Helen Thomas are leading the charge on SVI’s research into revolutionising type 1 diabetes treatment and recently published the results from their world-first BANDIT clinical trial, which demonstrated that a commonly prescribed rheumatoid arthritis drug called baricitinib can suppress the progression of type 1 diabetes.  

“Synthesised insulin has been the treatment for type 1 diabetes for hundreds of years, but it is completely inadequate when compared to the body’s natural insulin. Through our research, we are finding ways to stop the destruction of the insulin producing cells,” said SVI Director Tom Kay. 

St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research has the largest group of type 1 diabetes researchers in Australia. Our scientists are working to make the next breakthrough to allow us to cure, prevent and better treat type 1 diabetes. 

The Whitbournes will begin their walk at Dromana pier on Wednesday 10 July and finish at Heidelberg Football Club on Saturday 13 July. 

For more information about their walk, visit their donation page