JDRF T1D Fund Announces $5 Million Commitment from Helmsley Charitable Trust

Largest Commitment to Date Will Support the Fund’s Investments in Promising Early-Stage Companies Pursuing Type 1 Diabetes Solutions 

BOSTON and NEW YORK — October 24, 2017 — The JDRF T1D Fund, a venture philanthropy fund focused on accelerating life-changing approaches to cure, treat, and prevent type 1 diabetes (T1D) through catalytic commercial efforts, today announced that it has received its largest-ever outside commitment of $5 million from the Helmsley Charitable Trust. The funding will support the T1D Fund’s mission of identifying and advancing the best high-impact T1D commercial opportunities in active partnership with venture and industry capital sources. JDRF and Helmsley are the two largest private sector funders of T1D efforts.

Since launching in January 2017 with $32 million of seed funding from JDRF, the T1D Fund now manages over $60 million and has invested more than $10 million in seven innovative companies focused on developing life-changing therapies for T1D. Among the programs already funded are beta cell replacement therapies, a prevention vaccine, immunoregulation and beta cell restoration therapies, implantable glucose monitoring devices, and advanced artificial pancreas systems. Structuring the Fund as a venture philanthropy vehicle allows it to concentrate all of its efforts on one disease and also ensures that any realized gains will be recycled into the fund for re-deployment toward the mission, thus magnifying the impact of donor dollars.

“Over the last nine years, the Helmsley Charitable Trust has established a well-deserved reputation as an innovative and catalyzing force in global T1D efforts,” said Sean Doherty, Chairman of the T1D Fund. “As we developed the T1D Fund, the Helmsley Charitable Trust provided invaluable advice about the optimal strategy and structure for the vehicle. Their decision to make such an impactful commitment to the Fund is a powerful validation of the concept, and a signal to industry and life science funds that the T1D Fund is the go-to partner when it comes to the best commercial T1D opportunities.” The T1D Program Director at the Helmsley Charitable Trust, Gina Agiostratidou, Ph.D., MBA, has joined the T1D Fund Board of Directors, and the Fund will gain the strategic and network benefits of a deeper affiliation with the Helmsley staff.

We think when the world’s most respected and influential diabetes funders put their credibility behind a company and offer strategic expertise, it sends a powerful sign to venture funds, pharma, and biotech firms that T1D is providing viable investment opportunities.

Sean Doherty, T1D Fund Chairman

“We are excited to support the critical work being done by the T1D Fund,” said David Panzirer, a Trustee at the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “We have seen firsthand through our work how challenging it is for companies working in the space to attract the early funding they require to research and develop breakthrough T1D solutions, and then advance them to the market. We believe that the T1D Fund has the potential to fundamentally alter these market dynamics and help bring new devices and therapies to people with T1D, which is our shared goal.”

“Commercial investment in T1D has lagged for years despite the unmet need, scientific advances, and market opportunity,” Doherty added. “The Fund is already helping to change this. We think when the world’s most respected and influential diabetes funders put their credibility behind a company and offer strategic expertise, it sends a powerful sign to venture funds, pharma, and biotech firms that T1D is providing viable investment opportunities.”  

The JDRF T1D Fund has already demonstrated to donors and to venture, corporate, and foundation capital sources that attractive, impactful investment opportunities exist in the T1D space. Partnering with the T1D Fund can de-risk these opportunities by providing access to JDRF’s breadth of scientific and clinical trial knowledge and its regulatory and reimbursement expertise. Governed separately from JDRF, the T1D Fund is led by a seasoned independent board and investment committee and managed by Jonathan Behr, Ph.D., who has strong experience in funding early-stage companies.

“JDRF and Helmsley, the world’s two largest private funders in the fight against T1D, have a long history of successful collaborations,” said Derek Rapp, President and CEO of JDRF International. “The Helmsley Charitable Trust’s commitment to the T1D Fund strengthens and furthers this already successful partnership and leverages the resources of the two leading T1D organizations to further commercial breakthroughs, and is welcomed by those of us touched by this disease.”

About the JDRF T1D Fund

The JDRF T1D Fund (www.t1dfund.org) is a venture philanthropy fund accelerating life changing solutions to treat, prevent, and cure type 1 diabetes (T1D) through catalytic commercial investments. Through its investments in partnership with private capital, including venture capital, corporations, and foundations, the T1D Fund seeks to attract the private investment necessary to advance drugs, devices, diagnostics, and vaccines into the hands of those living with T1D. The T1D Fund invests in areas strategically aligned with JDRF, with an exclusive focus on the best commercial opportunities. The T1D Fund will reinvest any realized gains into new investments to further its mission.

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 $1.8 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. For more information, visit www.helmsleytrust.org.


Laura Fahey, Helmsley Charitable Trust, lfahey@helmsleytrust.org, 212-953-2814.