A legacy of impact: Dave Prowten says goodbye to JDRF

Dear Friends, 

As I write this, my heart is overflowing with gratitude.  Today, I am retiring from JDRF and it has been an incredible honour and privilege to be the President and CEO for over 10 years. I feel fortunate to have met so many fantastic people in the type 1 diabetes community – your passion, commitment and perseverance each and every day is inspiring. Thank you! 

I have many great memories, and one that stands out is from a Kids for a Cure event in Ottawa. I remember that we gave the kids a JDRF hockey jersey to wear in their meetings. When I put mine on, it made me feel so proud.  I was proud to be part of a winning team – a team that digs deep each and every day to make lives better for everyone in the T1D family.  And of course, seeing all of these incredible youth champions tell their stories to MPs and Senators is the BEST!   

Another (humbling) highlight occurred in my first few months. We had secured an interview on a national TV morning show during Diabetes Awareness month, and we were going to discuss the many advances that have been made.   

We had all sorts of items – needles that were massive, to the latest pumps and monitors. For me, it was all very new and I had done lots of preparation to do my best to explain it. I was joined by a young boy named Anwar – he was one of the nicest and cutest kids I had ever met. After the interview, a good friend of mine who worked at the TV station came up to me and said I had done fine. Then he paused, looked me in the eye, and said, but Anwar stole the show!  It showed me how important and impactful it is to share your personal stories to bring this relentless condition to life and that our ability to work as a team makes us unstoppable. 

I often used the word “momentum” with our team. I believe it is important to build and keep momentum as an organization and this can happen in many ways – research breakthroughs, fundraising success, wins with governments. 

As a team of staff and volunteers, our momentum is like a snowball that starts rolling down a hill, getting faster and bigger. During my tenure, while several areas have tremendous momentum, I am so excited by the progress we have seen in research.  I remember when the first cell therapy trial was announced by ViaCyte several years ago, and now, there are so many trials and companies involved, and of course, amazing Canadian researchers continue to make global contributions in this area. With a disease modifying therapy, like TZield that can delay the onset of T1D, approved by the FDA, I am extremely encouraged that the next generation of treatments, that will move beyond insulin and give people freedom from T1D are incredibly close.   

I need to thank many wonderful people for making these 10 years the most rewarding and fulfilling part of my career. Thank you to the amazing JDRF team, in Canada and globally, for leaning in every day to make a difference; to our volunteers that multiply our efforts and are our secret weapon; to our Board for their leadership, guidance and trust. Our donors are incredible, fueling the best research in Canada and around the world.  To our partners, thank you for being so collaborative since making lives better and finding cures requires all of us to work in harmony. There is no doubt that together, we are stronger and more impactful! 

As I depart, I want to wish Jessica Diniz, tremendous success as the baton is officially passed to her. You will be a terrific leader! 

So let me conclude where I began.  Thank YOU for allowing me to be part of this incredible JDRF team and T1D community. You inspire me, and I know we are well on the way to turning type one to type none. 

Holiday gift guide for people living with type 1 diabetes

The holiday season is fast approaching, and you’re probably putting together your lists to choose the perfect gifts for the people in your life. Why not let JDRF help with your shopping.

We’ve put together a gift guide with a few creative ideas for your loved ones living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) – but that can also work for just about anyone on your list. Whether you choose to go simple or complicated, homemade, from a store or a gift card – gifts chosen with thought will always be received with gratitude.

For the person who loves to relax

Luxuriant skin creams

With the winter cold comes dry skin, and this can be a particular challenge for people T1D. It’s also better for glucose monitoring when the skin is properly moisturized. There are so many different brands and scents to choose from, so this can be a stocking stuffer that is practical, but also feels luxurious.

Fun, cozy socks and slippers

Tired and painful feet are uncomfortable for anyone, but especially people with T1D. Compression socks can help with fatigue and nerve pain in the feet. Non-skid, seamless, moisture-wicking socks, or a funky pair of slippers (make sure they’ve got a good sole and a closed toe and back to prevent slipping) can ease the dreaded cold floors of winter. Plus, there is nothing better than feeling toasty, warm and cozy.

Bath bombs and oils

Turn a shower or bath into a spa. Help ease dry skin with oils or bath bombs, there are so many scents to choose from you’re sure to find one that pleases even the choosiest person.

For the practical person in your life

It’s hard to go wrong with gifts that spruce up a living space. Easy to care for plants, like cactus or snake plants can add comfort and decoration while not requiring much maintenance.

Sweaters, blankets, tuques and mitts – we all need them in the winter in Canada, and they offer warmth and function.

Maybe there is a small appliance they’ve been wanting – an air fryer to make healthier versions of ‘fried food’, a new phone to better track blood glucose readings, or a new board or video game

For the fitness lover

Online exercise subscriptions

Bring the gym to their home, by giving your friend or loved one a subscription to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), yoga, Pilates or Peleton classes. With so many people making the switch to home workouts, there is a world of choice online at your fingertips.

A FitBit or Apple watch

Fitness trackers make it easier to track calories burned, the intensity of the workout etc., to help better track how much food and insulin they might need before and after.

Home exercise equipment

Free weights, exercise bands, yoga mats, even exercise clothing. Consider a gift card or purchase the equipment that they’ll use to stay fit throughout the winter and into the new year.

For the artist

Paint or colour by numbers

A good way to be creative while also getting in some stress relieving activities is a paint or colour by number set. It can be calming and mediative, and at the end you get a lovely piece of art.


If there is a writer in your family, they might appreciate a personalized journal or diary., They can use it to help track blood glucose readings, food intake and exercise, or how they are feeling mentally that day. But it can also provide an opportunity to be creative, write short stories, poems or just doodle. Be sure they know it’s completely private and only to be shared if they want.

For the fashion conscious

Quirky and stylish diabetes supply bags

When you have T1D, you need to carry supplies with you, so why not make it fun! These fashionable accessories are often designed by people who have diabetes, which is win-win.

Gift the gift of philanthropy

Maybe your family doesn’t exchange gifts over the holidays. Or perhaps you are looking for the perfect gift for a colleague. Donating to a charity, including JDRF will help you to feel good while doing good. The gift of philanthropy goes a long way and supporting JDRF will help the close to 300,000 Canadians living with T1D – and their loved ones – live easier lives today while we invest in the most promising research into cures. 

Whatever gift you choose, if it’s chosen with care – it will always be right. From everyone at JDRF, wishing you and yours a happy and peaceful holiday season.

Click here to download your gift of hope holiday card to send to the loved one you are honouring this holiday season. 

Thank you for supporting JDRF and the T1D community. 

Immune Therapy Preserves Beta Cell Function in Newly Diagnosed Type 1 Diabetes

Insulin, administered either by pump or multiple daily injection, remains the only available treatment for type 1 diabetes (T1D). JDRF is aiming to change that and move beyond insulin by accelerating the development of medicines that prevent, delay, or reverse T1D by targeting the autoimmune response, beta cells, or both. Supporting studies that explore how drugs may preserve beta cell function is key to our disease-modifying therapies portfolio.

In a JDRF-funded clinical trial, published in the renowned New England Journal of Medicine , Thomas Kay, M.B.B.S., Helen Thomas, Ph.D., and others demonstrated that baricitinib—a small molecule that blocks Janus Kinase, which is critical to signaling pathways within both immune cells and beta cells in T1D—preserved beta cell function in the disease.

The BANDIT study investigated the use of baricitinib, a treatment already approved by Health Canada for other autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, in newly diagnosed T1D individuals. This JDRF-funded study was funded by JDRF and JDRF Australia and conducted at St. Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research in Australia. The study was conducted after years of research by Thomas Kay and others, as well as important work by JDRF advocating for Eli Lilly to provide the baricitinib for the study.

Study Overview

  • Participants were between 10 and 30 years old and began taking baricitinib within 100 days of diagnosis
  • Participants either received baricitinib or a placebo drug
  • The study ran for 48 weeks, and results were analyzed at 12, 24, 36 and 48 weeks
  • The primary outcome was average C-peptide (a measure of how much insulin is still being made by a person’s own beta cells) following a standard meal at week 48
  • Secondary outcomes were HbA1c (average glucose level over a 2–3-month period), insulin use, and continuous glucose monitor (CGM) measures


In 60 newly diagnosed children and young adults, baricitinib:

  • Preserved insulin production, as estimated by C-peptide
  • Improved blood-glucose variability (blood glucose levels were more stable) and time-in-range (the percentage of your day within your set blood glucose targets), using a CGM
  • Decreased the requirement for external insulin
  • Was well-tolerated by the participants

The effect of baricitinib was achieved using a single daily oral tablet, and it’s the first immunotherapy trial to suggest a benefit on CGM measures. (Verapamil, a once-a-day tablet approved for blood pressure management , also preserved beta cell function, but without improvement in CGM measures or insulin requirement.)

What comes next?

Currently, baricitinib is approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in adults in Canada. It is not however a Health Canada approved therapy for people with T1D. JDRF has multiple lines of inquiry to make sure that this and other disease-modifying drugs get to the hands of people with T1D . There are several clinical trials that JDRF is exploring to see if baricitinib can be effective if used in conjunction with other therapies, such as Tzield™ (teplizumab-mzwv) or verapamil.

What does this mean for people with T1D?

These promising results show that this drug can extend the honeymoon period (the phase in early type 1 diabetes development where the body is still producing some of its own insulin), but more studies are needed before it can become available to the T1D community. As this drug is already approved for use in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in Canada, the path to its potential use in T1D may be more rapid. Studies that explore the use of disease-modifying drugs, such as baricitinib or ustekinumab, in another JDRF-funded trial currently recruiting in Canada, are key to helping JDRF address the autoimmunity behind T1D.

This treatment is not currently available in Canada for people with T1D, but JDRF Canada will share further updates and results as they become available.