"Speeding Up Science." How Helmsley Funds to Push Forward Type 1 Diabetes Research

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust is waging a broad fight against type 1 diabetes, giving to find new technologies for treatment, programs for patients, as well as research toward a cure. 

Research collaboration is a strong area of interest, and back in 2010, the trust gave $26 million to the Jaeb Center for Health Research to create a database for storing longitudinal patient data about diabetes.

And for those whose battle with type 1 diabetes is ongoing, HCT invests in patient care. In 2012 it established the Type 1 Diabetes Emerging Technology Initiative, which seeks to invest in advances that improve T1D patients’ quality of life and medical outcomes. We could mention other stuff HCT is funding, too. 

The foundation's latest big diabetes gift is squarely in the research realm. It’s seriously cutting edge, and seriously cool. Last week, HCT announced a $3.3 million grant to the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and University of Florida in support of research by the Network for the Pancreatic Organ Donor with Diabetes (nPOD).

That’s a mouthful, we know. nPOD was established in 2007 with the goal of cataloging tissue samples from (most often) the pancreases of organ donors with type 1 diabetes. These tissue samples are then made available to researchers—a huge treasure trove of information that’s been made accessible by HCT.

This specific gift will fund multidisciplinary working groups that are focusing on key areas of type 1 diabetes research, as well as help create pilot research projects that make use of nPOD’s human tissue samples. It will also enhance nPOD’s infrastructure and staffing. "Rather than competing against one another for academic prominence, nPOD is bringing together a community of researchers to conduct the best possible science," said Alberto Pugliese, professor at the Diabetes Research Institute at the Miller School and executive co-director of nPOD, which encompasses a hundred and forty collaborative research projects. "We're connecting the dots in real time with a remarkably high level of collaboration. We are speeding up science."

"nPOD takes an invaluable tissue procurement network and engrains deep values of team science," said Eliot Brenner, program director of the Helmsley Trust's Type 1 Diabetes Program. "The trust is excited to fund its progressive way of conducting medical research. The Eisenbarth nPOD Award for Team Science is an outstanding opportunity to further our understanding of the origin and development of the disease and potentially impact the health outcomes of people with T1D."