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Something to celebrate on World Diabetes Day

Posted: 14th November 2017

Four of Australia’s top type 1 diabetes research teams, led by SVI’s Professor Tom Kay, have been awarded a National Health and Medical Council (NHMRC) Program Grant of $9.46m to find new ways to prevent and treat the disease.

The grant outcome was announced today by Federal Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, at SVI in Melbourne.

Type 1 diabetes is an immune system disorder that primarily affects children, leads to a lifelong reliance on insulin injections, and remains a cause of premature mortality.

The Program focuses on three intersecting themes. The first theme centres around early life and understanding why type 1 diabetes develops. The second theme looks at prevention and seeks to identify new drugs to stop the disease from occurring. The third theme aims to improve therapies to replace the cells that are destroyed during the disease process.

Professor Kay said that the research funded by this award will be critical to developing new approaches to assist those with type 1 diabetes and to stop the disease occurring in the first instance.

“It is our intention to make discoveries that positively impact those living with the disease, and hopefully, prevent others from developing it in the future,” he said.

“We are grateful to the NHMRC, the Government and Australian taxpayers for supporting medical research so strongly over recent years, including establishing the Medical Research Future Fund. We are also grateful to our other supporters including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Diabetes Australia and to the large number of patients and their families who contribute to our research.”

The four chief investigators are the nucleus of a large team of national and international collaborators using a comprehensive approach to research type 1 diabetes, encompassing fundamental research to clinical trials. The team includes young researchers using the latest scientific technologies as well as experienced mid-career scientists and clinicians, both paediatricians and adult physicians, who play an essential role. These projects require the synergistic efforts of the Program and could not be achieved by working as individuals.

“On behalf of my co-investigators, Profs Andrew Lew, Len Harrison and Philip O’Connell and, importantly, our collective teams and our associate investigators and their teams, we are excited to accept this very substantial 5 year grant,” Professor Kay said.