Canadian Diabetes Association, UBC partner on funding for childhood diabetes research

A new partnership announced by the Canadian Diabetes Association and the University of British Columbia (UBC) will help fund research in childhood diabetes. Not only will this research further investigate type 1 diabetes, it will also explore the areas of type 2 diabetes and obesity in children, a problem of growing concern and proportions.

Recent data suggests one in three children born in 2000 will be diagnosed with diabetes in his or her lifetime.

The Canadian Diabetes Association and UBC have pledged to fund raise $3 million towards this effort. Of that amount, $1.8 million will be used to assist in completing funding requirements for approximately $9 million in capital costs for the Centre for Research in Childhood Diabetes (CRCD), a laboratory where the pediatric research will be conducted. The remaining $1.2 million will support the creation of advanced research positions for three outstanding new scientists.

Research to be conducted at the CRCD will include islet cell biology, autoimmunity, genetics, and viral causes of diabetes, with plans to expand into areas of emerging importance such as beta cell regeneration (the growth of new insulin-producing cells in the pancreas). This multi-disciplinary approach is unique in Canada, and essential to understanding, treating and ultimately curing a disease as complex as diabetes.

One of only a few such laboratories in the world, the CRCD will be part of the BC Research Institute for Children's & Women's Health, and will be located on the grounds of the Children's & Women's Health Centre of BC, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA). This juxtaposition of laboratory and hospital enhances the quick translation of research findings into practical applications that benefit children with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

"As physicians and scientists focused on diabetes, we want to be on top of this emerging epidemic of childhood diabetes," said Dr. Bruce Verchere PhD, associate professor in the UBC Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and head of the Diabetes Research Program at the BC Research Institute for Children's & Women's Health.

"This partnership between UBC and the Canadian Diabetes Association reflects a mutual commitment to make BC a world leader in childhood diabetes research," added Verchere. "The proximity of the research conducted in the CRCD to BC Children's Hospital will facilitate a quick translation of researchers' findings back to the hospital setting - a true bedside-to-bench-to-bedside approach."

"In Canada, we have a proud history of diabetes research, from the discovery of insulin by Banting, Best, Collip and Macleod in Toronto in 1922, to the occasion that brings us together today in Vancouver - the promise of excellence in childhood diabetes research," said Michael Howlett, Canadian Diabetes Association President and CEO. "We are pleased to partner with UBC to support expanded research in childhood diabetes. This partnership is the first of its kind for the Association, and the findings that will result from it will be very exciting."

The announcement by the Canadian Diabetes Association and UBC took place this morning in the Chieng Atrium in the BC Research Institute for Children's & Women's Health. The announcement included presentations by: Howlett; Verchere; Dr. Alison Buchan PhD, associate dean, Research, UBC Faculty of Medicine; and Heather Ross, a teenage girl with diabetes who is training to become a camp counsellor through the Association's Leadership program. The event was emceed by Jean Blake, executive director for the Canadian Diabetes Association, Pacific Area.

The Canadian Diabetes Association works to prevent diabetes and improve the quality of life for those affected, through research, education, service and advocacy. With a presence in more than 150 communities, the Canadian Diabetes Association's strong network of assistance includes volunteers, employees, healthcare professionals and partners.

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