Celebrating the Groundbreaking Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes Program, JDRF Announces $15 Million in Funding with Helmsley

—Research enabled by nPOD cells and tissues has advanced the scientific understanding of type 1 diabetes and proven the importance of organ donation to science for the past decade —

NEW YORK — This National Donate Life Month, JDRF, the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, and The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust announced their renewed funding for the Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes (nPOD) to continue transformative T1D research.

JDRF organized and developed nPOD to investigate how and why T1D develops and has committed $10.5 million over the next five years to expand research on how the disease progresses in humans. The Helmsley Charitable Trust has separately committed $4.7 million in continued support. 

nPOD is both a collaborative network of scientists and the world’s largest biobank of pancreatic tissue and samples of the human pancreas. For the past 10 years, this open research consortium has collected and processed organ donations that include the pancreas and other relevant tissues from donors who had – or were at increased risk for – T1D. In order to foster scientific partnership, nPOD makes samples available, without cost, to investigators around the world for research.

“Thanks to nPOD, in the past decade, collaborative researchers have reversed several long-held dogmas about type 1 diabetes,” said Gina Agiostratidou, Ph.D., Helmsley’s Type 1 Diabetes Program Director. “This research may hold the key to what causes T1D, ways to predict those at higher risk of developing T1D, and ultimately, how to treat it.”

Led by renowned T1D researcher Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., nPOD has supported more than 300 investigators in over 20 countries and processed 50,000 tissue samples for analysis. Dr. Atkinson is a Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Pediatrics at the University of Florida, Director of the University of Florida Diabetes Institute, and Chairman of the JDRF Research Advisory Committee. The scientific direction of nPOD is overseen by an outside Scientific Advisory Board, comprised of prominent diabetes investigators across the country.

“The human pancreas is difficult to study while inside the body, but through the generosity of individuals who donate their pancreas and other organs, researchers are making advances toward a world without type 1 diabetes,” explains Aaron Kowalski, Ph.D., JDRF Chief Mission Officer. “We believe nPOD has the potential to do for T1D what tissue banks did to accelerate the development of cancer therapies.”

JDRF and Helmsley, through support of nPOD and other initiatives, are transforming T1D research by advancing the number of investigations performed using human samples. Nearly 250 studies using human samples are currently being performed by nPOD scientists alone. By giving researchers around the globe access to these resources, nPOD facilitates collaboration on scientific questions related to autoimmunity, the role that viruses have in triggering T1D, dysfunctional insulin production, T1D diagnosis, and more. This collaboration provides an important complement to clinical trials.

To learn more about becoming an nPOD donor, visit www.jdrfnpod.org/about/organ-donor-information.

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About T1D

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, called beta cells. While its causes are not yet entirely understood, scientists believe that both genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved. Its onset has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. There is nothing you can do to prevent T1D, and—at present—nothing you can do to get rid of it.

About nPOD

The Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes (nPOD) is a multi-national, collaborative investigation funded by JDRF and designed to further scientific understanding of the causes of type 1 diabetes (T1D). T1D is an autoimmune disorder that results in destruction of cells in the pancreas that make insulin. For more information about nPOD, please visit www.jdrfnpod.org.

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. To accomplish this, JDRF has invested more than $2 billion in research funding since our inception. 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. We collaborate with academic institutions, policymakers, and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with T1D. Our staff and volunteers throughout the United States and our six international affiliates are dedicated to advocacy, community engagement and our vision of a world without T1D. For more information, please visit jdrf.org or follow us on Twitter: @JDRF

About The Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $2 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. For more information, visit www.helmsleytrust.org.

Contact              

Regina Palatini, rpalatini@helmsleytrust.org, 212-953-2879

Ayana Young, marcomtemp2@jdrf.org. 347-496-2494