JDRF-funded research promoted at annual ADA conference


Dr. Aaron Kowalksi, Chief Mission Officer and Vice President, Research at JDRF

JDRF’s leadership role in expanding pioneering research was highlighted at the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) 78th Scientific Sessions held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, from June 22-26.

Bringing together diabetes researchers and healthcare professionals from across the globe, the Scientific Sessions is the world’s largest meeting focused on diabetes. The five-day conference is a major event in the type 1 diabetes (T1D) and broader diabetes community that fosters the exchange of ideas with experts in the field, while showcasing ground-breaking developments in areas such as glucose control, beta cell regeneration and artificial pancreas, to name a few.

“At JDRF we are committed to funding innovative therapies to keep people with T1D healthier until a cure is discovered,” says Dave Prowten, president and CEO of JDRF Canada. “Over the past year, there has been progress that is changing the face of T1D and offering hope to everyone living with the disease.”

Among the scheduled presentations at the conference, more than 60 had a JDRF connection. This year also marked the first time that JDRF conducted onsite video interviews with 15 of its researchers to report on their studies or sessions.

Keynote sessions centered on promising T1D research studies that are paving the way to novel treatments. Here are our top three highlights:


Lesson Learned from the Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) Study—Insights into Early Autoimmune T1D

Research Category: PREVENTION

Funded by JDRF, the National Institutes of Health, the Special Diabetes Program and other organizations, the TEDDY consortium was created to advance our understanding of how environment alters immunity, bringing us closer to prevention of T1D. TEDDY is a project that is tracking children at risk of T1D. Researchers are examining diet, illnesses, allergies and a host of other life experiences in order to determine environmental susceptibility to the disease. At ADA, it was found that children who develop autoimmunity early tend to develop insulin autoantibodies (i.e., antibodies produced by the immune system that are directed against one or more of the individual’s own proteins) first and progress faster to T1D, while those who develop autoimmunity later in childhood tend to develop different autoantibodies and progress more slowly. 


Should All Pregnant Women with T1D Use Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs)?

Research Category: GLUCOSE CONTROL

JDRF-funded Dr. Denice Feig, the CONCEPTT co-principal investigator, presented her ‘pro’ argument as part of a professional group interest session. Continuous glucose monitoring systems have the potential to revolutionize diabetes management among pregnant and breastfeeding women with T1D because they allow them to take immediate action in response to high or low blood sugars, and avoid other serious health-related issues.


Medalist Studies: International Summit on the Study of T1D of Very Long Duration

Research Category: COMPLICATIONS

Joslin Diabetes Center’s 50-Year Medal Program recognizes individuals who have lived with type 1 diabetes for 50 or more years, and researchers are studying this group to determine factors that may allow them to be resistant to the complications associated with the condition. JDRF has funded nearly $5 million towards the Joslin Medalist Study since 2005, including a Canadian group in 2013.

One of the goals of the Joslin Medalist Summit was to bring together all of the various groups from Australia, United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland and the United States that are working on studying long-duration T1D to see if they could learn from each other, share protocols, harmonize approaches and maximize the possibility of identifying protective factors that can prevent complications, such as eye disease or kidney disease. This was the first-ever summit of all these groups coming together and marks the beginning of continued collaboration to further recognize aspects of long-duration T1D and protective factors.

Watch JDRF’s associate director of research, Dr. Marlon Pragnell, give a recap of the Joslin Medalist meeting and what it could mean to those living with T1D.   

Other key JDRF-funded projects addressed at the ADA Sessions included:

The Perl (Preventing Early Renal Loss in Diabetes) Clinical Trial

Research Category: COMPLICATIONS          

Dr. Alessandro Doria and his team at the Joslin Diabetes Center are investigating a medication called allopurinol as a potential treatment to prevent early kidney function loss in diabetes. This research has the potential to delay the onset of dialysis or end-stage kidney disease by as many as 10 to 15 years, and perhaps even prevent both.

Liraglutide as an Additional Treatment to Insulin in Patients with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus— A 52-Week Randomized Double-Blinded Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial

Research Category: GLUCOSE CONTROL

Dr. Paresh Dandona and his colleagues at the State University of New York at Buffalo are examining the use of a medication called liraglutide to control glycemic fluctuations in people with T1D. The availability of an additional, effective drug to regulate blood glucose levels could prevent complications and greatly improve their quality of life.Dr. Paresh Dandona discusses a JDRF supported study that saw that use of the medication liraglutide helped to control glycemic oscillations in people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and significantly lowered HBA1C levels.

Click here for more information on JDRF-funded research projects featured at the ADA’s Scientific Sessions.

For highlights, conference news and video clips from the ADA’s 78th Scientific Sessions, click here.

Visit our JDRF Blog for more informative articles on type 1 diabetes and health.

Our Guide to Navigating BBQ Season

Long weekends, warm nights, and outdoor get-togethers mean that BBQ season is back! There’s no shortage of things to do in the summer, but when you have type 1 diabetes (T1D) activities such as travelling or indulging in some of your favourite barbecued foods require a bit more planning. While this can seem like a daunting task, having a strategy in place will allow you to feel more confident in your ability to manage changes in your blood glucose levels.

Whether you’ve been invited to a BBQ or you’re intending to host one soon, we’ve got you covered. Here is our Guide to Navigating BBQ season:

BYOD or Bring Your Own Dish

When you’re not at home, it’s more difficult to control your food options, which is why carrying your own dish is always a great idea. Most hosts will be thrilled to see that you’ve brought something, and you can familiarize yourself with its nutritional content ahead of time. Food items supplied by other guests, whether they’re homemade or store-bought, can have hidden sugars and fats, which can lead to blood sugar surprises later.

Circulate, circulate, circulate!

Walk by the buffet a couple of times and decide how many carbs you will be consuming that day. If you find it difficult to keep track download an app on your smartphone that counts carbs, displays glycemic index (GI), or reveals fat content. There is no shortage of apps that show the nutritional information of processed foods, produce and homemade foods, too.

Stay hydrated

On hot days, you run the risk of dehydration, which can spike your blood sugar levels. At a BBQ, you’re more likely to eat salty foods and protein, which can increase the unwanted effects of heat. If you drink an alcoholic beverage it can further increase your risk of dehydration, so be sure you’re making informed decisions before you sip. Drinking water doesn’t have to be boring – dress up your water with lemon, cucumber, or try sparkling water!

Keep your meds cool

You’re not the only one that feels the heat. Insulin should be kept out of the sun and at room temperature, or stored in a fridge. To prevent your insulin from going bad while outdoors bring along a cool pack. Insulin needs to be cool – not frozen –as freezing kills it.

Get moving

Moving around in any form helps to counteract high blood sugar. You’re at a BBQ – dance to a perfectly curated playlist, walk around to mingle, or play lawn games! These are just a few great ways to get active and offset highs.

Have fun!

At times, it can feel like you’re constantly thinking about managing type 1 and forgetting to enjoy yourself. Keep these tips in mind to help you enjoy the great food and company at your next barbecue!

Happy BBQing!

Visit our JDRF Blog for more informative articles on type 1 diabetes and health.

5 Ways Corporate Social Responsibility Can Engage Employees

What’s the best way to engage employees, increase productivity, induce positive culture and cultivate collaboration? If you’re a Canadian business, the answer is the distinguishing factor between a thriving workforce and a revolving door.

In the shifting sands of evolving workplaces, businesses are facing unique challenges to build structures that embrace employees’ individualities and needs. Philanthropic efforts are being implemented by successful businesses to engage employees, build brand integrity, and create positive change for people in their communities, but how else can it help?

The JDRF Revolution Ride to Defeat Diabetes presented by Sun Life Financial has an answer.

Actually, they have 5.

JDRF Revolution Ride to Defeat Diabetes Presented by Sun Life Financial

The JDRF Revolution Ride to Defeat Diabetes is a high-energy stationary cycling event taking place in cities across Canada. This event challenges Canadians to go further to defeat diabetes. Whether it’s a 10-minute ride or a 60-minute endurance challenge, participants will be put to the test to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D).

1. Addressing the increasingly dynamic workplace

A study by Regent Canada indicates that 47% of Canadian employees work from outside their employer’s main offices for half the week or more. Employees working remotely face a greater challenge absorbing a company’s values for one simple reason: less time in the office equals less time to be engaged.

The Revolution Ride creates the flexibility needed to be inclusive of all employees. With the option of a virtual ride (or vRide), anyone can participate remotely at anytime from anywhere in the world, whether it’s a spin studio down the street or a hotel gym; this means employees in Vancouver can compete with their Halifax branch as easily as if they were riding side by side.

Click here to learn more about the vRide.

2. Identifying qualities of effective team-building

Successful team building eliminates barriers, embraces equality, and promotes positive interactions that generate valuable opportunities for employees to forge real relationships tempered by comradery and trust.

The Revolution Ride integrates all participants, from executives to office clerks, into an atmosphere that brings everyone onto the same page and working towards the same goal. It’s the optimal environment to enrich a great team dynamic and help businesses build new foundations on which their team can grow.

3. Eliminating self-interest to conduce effective networking

The purpose of networking is jeopardized when self-interest overrides the notion of building real relationships. The Revolution Ride restores effective networking by creating an organic opportunity to connect and communicate with likeminded individuals in a collaborative setting. While 1 team member rides, the other 4 will be cheering them on alongside 40-plus teams doing the same, creating a social environment that induces high-spirits and friendly competition.

The customizability of JDRF’s Ride format makes it easy for everyone to participate. For example, a small law firm putting together a team of 5 employees to participate in the Ride10 would mean closing up shop for the day. So instead, invite 4 clients and turn team-building into networking. Or, let’s take someone who works for an IT department within a bank. Bankers might not be this person’s ideal candidates to network with, so the IT employee can switch time slots and ride in the tech sector.

4. Using social corporate responsibility to align employee and company values

Employees need a higher sense of purpose through their work, and smart businesses ensure they find it. Employees with a sense of purpose stay longer and are instrumental in attracting and retaining prospective employees. According to Forbes, 50% of millennials would take a pay cut to work somewhere where their company’s values align with theirs. Businesses can create these alignments by tackling corporate social responsibilities.

The Revolution Ride is an opportunity to stand proudly on the upside of change. Businesses that identify with philanthropic efforts not only define their brand as compassionate, they strengthen their relationships with their employees and the public. The Revolution Ride taps into an employee’s sense of purpose and puts them in the driver’s seat to generate positive change.

5. Addressing employee health as a staple of success

Maintaining the quality of employee health is a priority for all recruitment strategists because it directly impacts performance and company culture. Employees want to work where they feel valued, so businesses being considerate of their employees’ health is a critical step in retention. The Mental Health Commission of Canada states that absenteeism related to mental health costs Canada 6-billion dollars per-year. The takeaway is that businesses need to create supportive environments that their employees feel good about coming to work in.

The Revolution Ride thrives because it’s inclusive and provides a physical, fun outlet for riders that is more social than athletic. The supportive and encouraging nature of participants year after year is what continuously attracts diverse groups of people to come together to be physically active while challenging themselves and each other. Businesses can take advantage of this positive atmosphere to instill health as a staple of their company culture, promoting the importance of physical and mental wellness in an environment that is free of judgment and full of positivity.

About Type 1 Diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin. Insulin is a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. T1D isn’t caused by our lifestyle choices. There is nothing anyone can do to prevent it, and at present, there is no cure. It can affect both children and adults and lasts a lifetime. For these individuals, symptoms can only be addressed with the use of insulin.

Over 300,000 Canadians live with type 1 diabetes, and the national average incidence rate has been growing at an estimated 5.1% per year. Approximately 250 individuals will be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes this week – 50 per day in Canada. JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) tackles the challenges of type 1 diabetes by hosting events to raise funds for vital research into treatments and finding a cure.  The support of you and your colleagues will help us turn type 1 into type none.

By joining the JDRF Revolution Ride to Defeat Diabetes, your team will be raising awareness and funds to search for a cure.  Register your team today.



Our plan to fix the Disability Tax Credit is working: Here’s why.

By Patrick Tohill, Government Relations Director at JDRF Canada

We’ve got some exciting updates with respect to our campaign around the Disability Tax Credit and the Registered Disability Savings Plan. A senate committee tasked with studying these issues is urging the government to take a more compassionate approach in terms of the way these programs work for people living with disabilities in Canada.

Their report is called Breaking Down Barriers: A critical analysis of the Disability Tax Credit and the Registered Disability Savings Plan. The senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has made 16 recommendations aimed at fixing some of the long-standing problems that prevent Canadians with disabilities (including chronic diseases such as type 1 diabetes), from accessing the DTC and RDSP.

JDRF has welcomed the report and is broadly supportive of the recommendations. Parents of type 1 children as well as adults living with the disease who’ve invested in RDSPs will be pleased with the senators’ recommendation that the period of time between when contributions to RDSPs are made and when they can be withdrawn be reduced from 10 years to five.  

Also included within the Senate’s recommendations are two or three ideas that stem from JDRF’s testimony back in February. For example, the report recommends that investments and government contributions to RDSPs not be clawed back if the person was eligible for DTC when the investments were made, as well as that all eligibility criteria for the DTC be reviewed. The report specifically mentions the 14 hour per week rule which JDRF has recommended be reduced to 10 hours, though we’d be happy to see it nixed completely.

One particular amendment we’d like to see in terms of eligibility criteria concerns the exclusion of carbohydrate calculation, which makes absolutely no sense. As anyone with type 1 will tell you, you simply cannot calculate insulin dosage, something that’s included as an eligible activity in the 14 hours, without first calculating the number of carbohydrates you’re consuming.

Unfortunately, the Canada Revenue Agency wrongly considers carbohydrate calculation to fall under the category of a dietary restriction and has deemed it to be excluded under the Act. As a result, an application that mentions 280 minutes a week spent determining insulin dosage will be approved and an application mentioning 280 minutes a week calculating carbs will be denied.

JDRF has joined with Diabetes Canada in preparing a joint submission on carb calculation which we’ve submitted to the Disability Advisory Committee, the CRA and the Finance department.

Several of our recommendations around the DTC have also made their way into a Private Member’s Bill, Bill C-399, introduced by Tom Kmiec, MP for Calgary—Shepard in March. The Fairness for Canadians with Disabilities Act would “increase accessibility for disability tax credit for Canadians living with diabetes as well as those with rare disorders”.

We continue our efforts to advocate on behalf of the T1D community. You can help. Check out the Advocacy section of our website, support our online actions and sign up to stay informed.