Posted by Sharon Schendel
Diabetes Research Connection
Christina Kalberg (Executive Director) and Casey Davis (Director of Development) of the Diabetes Research Connection were the featured speakers at our May 14, 2020 virtual meeting when they spoke about efforts to find cures for diabetes.
Over one million Americans live with Type I diabetes, including 200,000 children, and over 40,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Although insulin has been available to treat diabetes for nearly 100 years, and significant advances have been made in managing diabetes, a cure is still needed.  
Funding for diabetes research has been decreasing, and the majority (~97%) of grants that are awarded go to established scientists. Diabetes Research Connection is unique in that it funds scientists who are early in their career. Most young scientists don’t launch their independent careers until they are well into their 30s, and many leave research and pursue other paths because funding is so difficult to secure. 
Seed money provided by Diabetes Research Connection–often around $50,000–provides the means for young scientists to get the preliminary results they need to compete successfully for larger grants from traditional funding sources like the National Institute of Health. Many of their grantees, several of whom are right here in San Diego, have made important discoveries that form the foundation for the development of novel treatments and cures for diabetes. Joseph Lancman at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery is an example of how a little money goes a long way: Joseph parlayed his ~$50,000 grant from Diabetes Research Connection to a one million dollar grant to develop a method to promote formation of new beta cells, which are cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.  

Visit the Diabetes Research Connection YouTube channel to learn more about the projects they fund and the people they help.