JDRF Announces Updated Strategy, Renewed Focus in Light of COVID-19


Amidst COVID-19, JDRF has announced updates to their organizational strategy and research focus, prioritizing work in their portfolio that they see as having the highest likelihood for cures and life changing advances for diabetes in the shortest amount of time. 

So what does this mean for research? By prioritizing work that stands to be the most impactful for people living with type 1 diabetes (T1D), Sanjoy Dutta, PhD, JDRF’s VP of Research, believes JDRF will be able to continue to drive innovation. “JDRF is steadfastly committed to developing cures for T1D and has prioritized the research that has the potential to bring those cures into the hands of people with T1D as quickly as possible,” says Dutta. “There has been significant progress in the past few years, and JDRF plans to double down on the most promising breakthroughs. A few examples include the recent clinical trials demonstrating that the onset of T1D can be delayed by at least three years with teplizumab, beta cells surviving longer than previously believed post-diagnosis, insulin being produced through implanted cells and the availability of multiple devices and choice for people with diabetes, along with other exciting research. The main shift would be to focus on the development of these transformational products and removing barriers that lead to such.” 

To prioritize this work, JDRF is shifting their funding model, issuing fewer but larger research grants, focusing more on volunteer and community engagement, parsing down in-person events and operations, looking toward longer-term partnership funding, and increasing global engagement across all types of diabetes and other chronic illnesses that stand to be impacted by JDRF’s research. As stated in JDRF’s new vision document, “Many people outside the T1D community will benefit from our research, including people with insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes who can benefit from our work driving continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), for instance. [Additionally,] T1D is an autoimmune disorder and our ground-breaking work in immune therapies has potential implications for people with other autoimmune diseases.”

Founded in 1970 by parents of children living with type 1 diabetes, JDRF’s mission has always been centered around accelerating best-in-class research for T1D. But amidst COVID-19, non-profit organizations across the globe have been challenged by how to continue driving their missions while dealing with funding hurdles. As a result, many—JDRF included—are re-examining how to keep driving impact while having to drastically pivot operations to keep that work going while we collectively work to understand what our new normal will look like moving forward. 

Of course, this is not limited to non-profits; companies like Google, who recently announced their workforce will be working from home until at least Summer 2021, are having to reimagine what companies look like alongside a pandemic. Many corporations and nonprofits alike have been forced to layoff staff, drastically cut spending, and reimagine their business purpose. 

While keeping people with diabetes as healthy as possible alongside coronavirus has been key (and a major part of Beyond Type 1’s and other diabetes organizations’ work through coronavirusdiabetes.org), ensuring the continuation of research toward prevention, better and safer ways to treat and cures for diabetes remains vital.

“Driving solutions through the pipeline into the hands of people with T1D is the common denominator behind everything JDRF does,” says Dutta. “That has not changed. We are confident we will be successful. That will mean that in the near future, people with T1D will have access to disease modifying therapies and other treatments that have the potential to dramatically improve their lives. That is our goal.”

For more information on JDRF’s announcement, including a deeper dive into how the organization is prioritizing research funding, click here.


This content mentions JDRF, an active partner of Beyond Type 1.
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WRITTEN BY Beyond Type 1 Editorial Team, POSTED 08/04/20, UPDATED 08/04/23

This piece was authored collaboratively by the Beyond Type 1 Editorial Team. Members of that team include Director of Content Todd Boudreaux, Director of Emerging Markets Mariana Gómez, Beyond Type 2 Project Manager T'ara Smith, Director of Brand Communications Dana Howe and Senior Project Manager Lala Jackson.