JDRF Canada’s First Centre of Excellence in Type 1 Diabetes Research Launches at the University of British Columbia

Toronto, ON — December 8, 2021 – JDRF Canada, the largest Canadian charitable funder of type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, and the UBC Faculty of Medicine are proud to announce the establishment of Canada’s first JDRF Centre of Excellence in T1D research at the University of British Columbia. 

Exclusively focused on research to cure T1D, the Centre is a key pillar of JDRF Canada’s $100M Campaign to Accelerate that launched earlier this year and is among only five such Centres worldwide. A $10M fundraising campaign is currently underway to support the Centre, and with more than fifty percent already raised, an ambitious research program has begun.

JDRF Centres of Excellence – Established to Fuel Discovery 

JDRF Centres of Excellence provide a research funding model that fosters highly dynamic and nimble work to drive discovery with maximum speed. In contrast to conventional research granting mechanisms, a Centre of Excellence adopts a highly collaborative approach that brings together a large team of experts from diverse fields and recruits new talent to accelerate T1D advances. This allows researchers to drive multiple projects in parallel, pivot quickly to the most promising research, yet remain focused on a unified goal of a cure for T1D. 

This model is extremely cost-effective because it leverages and streamlines existing research facilities and talent. By removing the capital costs of developing a new physical space, the Centre of Excellence model ensures that philanthropic investment is directed to research rather than overhead. In line with its cure-focused global research strategy, JDRF maintains a 360-degree view of the work at all its Centres to prioritize the science that holds the most promise for the T1D community. 

The JDRF Centre of Excellence at UBC 

The JDRF Centre of Excellence at UBC is rooted in collaboration, uniting the expertise of world-leading UBC researchers and partnerships with industry, health care, government and academia for a singular purpose: curing T1D. The Centre will foster rapid progress and efficient translation of discoveries in the lab to clinical solutions for Canadians living with T1D. 

The goal of the Centre’s research team is to bring two or more new solutions to cure or slow the progression of T1D to the clinical testing stage within just five years. Five research leads and more than 35 other researchers, trainees, technical staff and collaborators will be involved in driving the Centre’s research projects. 

JDRF would like to acknowledge our campaign co-chairs Rob Fiorvento and Dan Miller, as well as our campaign cabinet members Kim Lucas, Mary Jane Devine and Michelle Tice, for their leadership and vision.  

We would also like to recognize and thank several donors who have made leadership gifts that brought the Centre to reality: Joseph and Rosalie Segal, Wendy Benyk and Ray Maher, Jim Pattison, and the WB Family Foundation.  

Dave Prowten, President and CEO JDRF Canada: 

“The JDRF Centre of Excellence is a unique model that will develop and define new ways of moving research forward and will cultivate future leaders in type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. We are extremely excited to partner with this exceptional team because they bring multi-faceted expertise to accelerate the integrated study of the immune system and beta cells and their complex interactions – which we are confident will fuel the path towards a cure.”

Dr. Dermot Kelleher, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Vice-President of Health, UBC: 

“Launching Canada’s first JDRF Centre of Excellence at UBC’s Faculty of Medicine is a meaningful opportunity for collaboration that will accelerate discovery and innovation toward a cure for type 1 diabetes. Our shared vision to prioritize team science will speed up the development of accessible immune therapies that alleviate dependence on insulin and ultimately improve health outcomes for patients with type 1 diabetes.” 

Dr. Bruce Verchere, BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Professor, Faculty of Medicine UBC and Director, Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics and Irving K Barber Chair in Diabetes Research: 

“The JDRF Centre of Excellence at UBC will transform T1D research in Canada, sparking new collaborations, removing barriers, and accelerating progress toward a cure. I am tremendously proud to be working alongside my Centre co-leads; Drs. James Johnson, Megan Levings, Francis Lynn and JDRF’s Dr. Sarah Linklater, to put an end to T1D within our sights.”  

About JDRF 

JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Our goal is to raise funds to support the most advanced international T1D research and progressively remove the impact of this disease from people’s lives – until we achieve a world without it. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners and is the only organization with the scientific resources, regulatory influence, and a working plan to better treat, prevent, and eventually cure T1D. For more information, please visit jdrf.ca

About UBC’s Faculty of Medicine  

Ranked among the world’s top medical schools with the fifth-largest MD enrollment in North America, the UBC Faculty of Medicine is a leader in both the science and the practice of medicine. Guided by our vision—to transform health for everyone—our faculty members, learners, staff and alumni are accelerating discovery and creating pathways to better health for communities at home and around the world. Through collaboration with our partners, we strive to meet the demands of today and tomorrow, bringing real and lasting hope to people everywhere. For more information, visit med.ubc.ca or follow us on Twitter @UBCmedicine

Media contacts: 

Michelle Van Vliet
National Director, Marketing and Communications
JDRF Canada 

 Brett Goldhawk 
Communications and Media Relations Manager 
UBC Faculty of Medicine 

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