American Diabetes Association Announces Islet Technology Cell Replacement Research Awards 
10/19/2005 5:08:53 PM

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Nov. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Diabetes Association Research Foundation announced today the selection of seven researchers to receive funding from the American Diabetes Association Research Foundation's new Islet Cell Replacement Initiative for people with type 1 diabetes. These research awards support investigators who are developing basic science, clinical and translational research focusing on islet (insulin-producing) cell replacement in type 1 diabetes. The work of these researchers could lead to procedures that would ultimately restore the body's ability to produce insulin.

The seven award recipients include:

Charles Burant, MD, PhD of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; Dengjiang Dong, PhD of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY; Marc R. Garfinkel, MD of the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Michael German, MD of the Regents of the University of California, San Francisco, CA; Luca Inverardi, MD of the University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL; Paul Robbins, PhD of the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; and Ji-Won Yoon, PhD of Chicago Medical School/Finch University of Health Sciences, North Chicago, IL.

The funding, totaling $5.3 million, begins on January 1, 2004 and will continue for 3 to 4 years, based on each project. To receive funding, projects must reflect one of three major focus areas:

  * Genetic engineering of non-pancreatic cells into glucose-sensitive,
    insulin-producing cells (2 projects funded);
  * Transforming stem cells or pancreatic ductal cells into insulin-
    producing cells (4 projects funded); and
  * Transplanting non-human islet cells to restore normal glucose levels in
    people with diabetes, with particular focus on preventing rejection of
    these islets by the immune system (1 project funded).

"These research awards provide resources to scientists at institutions across the country to investigate critical areas in an intensive effort to increase the supply of islet cells available for use in transplantation therapy for individuals with type 1 diabetes," said Terrance Gregg, Chair, American Diabetes Association Research Foundation. "We believe that breakthroughs in one or more of these research fronts is possible."

The American Diabetes Association funds research aimed at preventing and curing diabetes, as well as research designed to help people with diabetes live longer, healthier, more normal lives. The goal of the ADA research program is to leverage its investment in research to achieve the greatest possible benefit for people with diabetes. In funding innovative studies such as those led by these investigators, the ADA Foundation supports projects that cover the spectrum of diabetes-related research.

The ADA Islet Cell Replacement in Type 1 Diabetes Research Awards are funded in part by Cynthia and Edsel B. Ford II of Grosse Pointe, Michigan and Arleen and Don Wagner of Venetia, Pennsylvania. The families have generously committed gifts of $1.3 million and $1 million, respectively to support the study of islet cell replacement. Both families became involved with raising funds for the American Diabetes Association after their children were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. In addition to their financial support, these families have also contributed countless hours as volunteers for the Association. Currently, Arleen Wagner serves as President of the ADA's Washington County, PA Council, Don Wagner and Cynthia Ford are both members of the ADA Research Foundation's Board of Directors, and Edsel Ford chairs the ADA's Government Affairs Council.

Diabetes is a chronic disease and a silent killer. More than 18 million Americans have diabetes and approximately 1.3 million new cases are diagnosed each year. In 2003, diabetes cost the United States $132 billion, up from $98 billion in 1997. Type 1 diabetes develops when the body's immune system destroys pancreatic beta cells, the only cells in the body that make the hormone insulin that regulates blood glucose. This form of diabetes usually strikes children and young adults, although disease onset can occur at any age. Type 1 diabetes may account for 5% to 10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. A major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, diabetes is also the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure and amputations.

The American Diabetes Association is the nation's premier voluntary health organization supporting diabetes research, information and advocacy. Founded in 1940, the Association has offices in every region of the country, providing services to hundreds of communities. The Association's commitment to research is reflected through its scientific meetings; education and provider recognition programs; and its Research Foundation and Nationwide Research Program, which fund breakthrough studies looking into the cure, prevention, and treatment of diabetes and its complications. For more information, please visit or call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383). Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.

American Diabetes Association

CONTACT: Kendra Gutschow, of the American Diabetes Association NationalOffice, +1-703-549-1500, ext. 2146