Open Letter to Ministers Freeland and Holland

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister
of Finance Department of Finance Canada
90 Elgin Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G5

The Honourable Mark Holland
Minister of Health Health Canada
90 Elgin Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G5

SUBJECT: Support for JDRF’s 2024 Budget Ask for type 1 diabetes research

Dear Minister Freeland and Minister Holland,

As Canadian researchers working in the field of islet replacement therapy for diabetes, we write this letter in support of renewed funding for the JDRF-CIHR Partnership to Defeat Diabetes through Federal Budget 2024.

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune condition resulting in absolute insulin deficiency, for which there is no available cure. A highly promising approach to cure the condition is to replace the insulin-producing islet cells that are damaged or destroyed through transplanting an “islet replacement product”.  Canada has been a world leader in the field of islet replacement therapy for T1D over 20 years and remains at the cutting edge today, in terms of both clinical practice and research productivity. Many global breakthroughs and much of the momentum – largely led by Canadian researchers and clinical trials taking place in Canada – have been enabled through funding of research grants by JDRF and CIHR. Past and ongoing projects supported by these funders include research that aims to:

  • optimize islet replacement products to treat T1D from a renewable source of stem cells;
  • test the safety and efficacy of manufactured islet products in animal models of T1D in preparation for clinical trials;
  • scale-up manufacturing of a high-quality islet replacement product to treat unlimited numbers of patients with T1D;
  • advance innovative approaches to reduce or eliminate immunosuppression required with transplant of an islet replacement therapy; and
  • leverage gene-editing technology to produce next-generation islet replacement products.

Sustained investment in Canadian research on islet replacement therapy is imperative to capitalize on investments to date for the benefit of the 300,000 Canadians living with T1D, whose lives could be transformed with the delivery of a cell-based cure for their condition. With sufficient funding, Canada will lead the global effort required to translate current research momentum into new treatments and cures for T1D.

An investment of $50 million from the federal government (with a $25 million match from JDRF Canada) will accelerate science at a monumental speed. Without an injection of funding, the immense progress that has been made in Canada towards cell therapy cures for T1D will largely dwindle. The momentum that we have gained through the strong JDRF-CIHR Partnership to Defeat Diabetes has brought us to the brink of breakthroughs – it is time to push forward this exceptional science and solidify Canada’s position as a powerhouse in the race to cure T1D.


Dr. James Johnson, Professor University of British Columbia  

Dr. Timothy Kieffer, Professor University of British Columbia

Dr. Gregory Korbutt, Professor University of Alberta

Dr. Megan Levings, Professor University of British Columbia  

Dr. Dan Luciani, Associate Professor University of British Columbia

Dr. Francis Lynn, Associate Professor University of British Columbia  

Dr. Hongshen Ma, Associate Professor University of British Columbia

Dr. Andras Nagy, Senior Investigator Mount Sinai Hospital

Dr. Cristina Nostro, Senior Scientist University Health Network  

Dr. Amanda Oakie, Postdoctoral Fellow University Health Network  

Dr. Andrew Pepper, Assistant Professor University of Alberta

Dr. Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret, Professor and Endocrinologist, Université de Montreal, IRCM  

Dr. Michael Sefton, Professor University of Toronto

Dr. Peter Senior, Professor and Endocrinologist, University of Alberta; Director, Alberta Diabetes Inst.  

Dr. James Shapiro, Professor and Transplant Surgeon University of Alberta

Dr. Bruce Verchere, Professor University of British Columbia

About JDRF

JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Our mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. We are an organization built on a grassroots model of people connecting in their local communities, collaborating regionally for efficiency and broader fundraising impact, and uniting on a national stage to pool resources, passion, and energy. JDRF partners across the full T1D development pipeline – including academic institutions, governments and corporations – to fund research and advocate for the delivery of innovative therapies to people living with T1D. Our staff and volunteers throughout Canada and five international affiliates are dedicated to advocacy, community engagement and our vision of a world without T1D. For more information, please visit

For media inquiries or further information, please contact:

Ruth Kapelus
National Content & Media Relations Manager, JDRF Canada
T. 647.789.2322 E.

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