From Data to Prevention: Another Big Helmsley Give for Diabetes

Easy now, don’t get déjà vu. I’m about to tell you about a Helmsley Charitable Trust give. I’m about to tell you it’s $8.7 million. Now I’m going to say it’s for type 1 diabetes (T1D). But it’s not that $8.7 million T1D grant, which I wrote about a month ago. It’s a new one. A different one. The same size. 

The one last month was for the T1D Exchange: basically, a big data-banking project for T1D. This grant is going to be split five ways, among researchers in the U.S., Europe, and Australia, all of whom are observing hundreds of thousands of newborns and children with T1D. It’s about those early stages: how does the disease present itself, how can we streamline diagnosis, and what do those early stages tell you about its pathology? The grantees include Helmholtz Zentrum München (German Research Center for Environmental Health) and the University of Cambridge, which were awarded $762,323 and $885,765, respectively, over two years to design the infrastructure required for global population-based prevention clinical trials.

Meanwhile, stateside, the University of South Florida was awarded $2.4 million over two years in support of its Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) campaign, which has enrolled more than eight thousand eligible newborns in a long-term observational study, and Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California was awarded $169,806 over six months to review existing data from completed prevention clinical trials of T1D and other autoimmune diseases to determine whether they can inform the longer-term goal of designing a prevention intervention trial.

Down under, JDRF Australia will receive $4.5 million over three years in support of its Environmental Determinants of Islet Autoimmunity (ENDIA) study, which will investigate candidate environmental exposures and gene-environment interactions that could contribute to the development of islet autoimmunity and T1D in early life.

"While curing T1D has been a research focus for many decades, that goal is still a long way off, unfortunately. The launch of this initiative represents the first steps in a long-term effort to prevent this chronic disease," said David Panzirer, a trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust. "We are delighted to support ambitious observational studies like TEDDY and ENDIA, and through new European partnerships we are eager to develop an infrastructure to perform intervention clinical trials, which is one of the main goals of the T1D Prevention Initiative."