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Something has changed.
Over the past year, studies revealed that the number of people with type 1 diabetes is growing faster than ever before. Some estimates say that new diagnoses are up a staggering 3 to 4 percent. The media have focused on an epidemic of type 2 diabetes -- but the numbers are eye-opening for type 1 diabetes, as well.
So something has changed -- maybe in what triggers diabetes, or perhaps we are better at diagnosing the disease earlier.
That makes the mission of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation all the more critical. And it makes the dramatic progress we have made in translating scientific discoveries into better treatments and cures all the more heartening.
But something has changed in JDRF research, as well.
We funded more clinical trials in people than ever before-more than 44 last year. That means success in driving research through the product development pipeline, and eventually into the lives of people with diabetes. Plus, we launched the JDRF Clinical Trials Connection service -- an online resource to match people with diabetes with human clinical trials of the latest drugs and treatments.
We spearheaded breakthrough science in pursuit of devices, technologies, and potential therapies that will help people control their diabetes, keeping them healthier and complications-free until we find a cure. Our groundbreaking continuous glucose monitor research -- the first step in our journey to build an artificial pancreas -- not only generated excitement in the scientific community (and was named one of the top research advances of the year by ABC News), but also led to increased insurance reimbursement for CGM devices by most every major insurer.
We catapulted the field of regenerative medicine to the forefront in diabetes research, creating momentum for more researchers to pursue this science with discovery after discovery of the regeneration and expansion capabilities of insulin-producing cells. We also showed that reprogramming other cells in the body to sense sugar and produce insulin can work, and may one day provide another important means to recreate missing beta cells in the body.
We saw success in our strategy of partnering to speed the translation of research from laboratories to better treatments and cures. Four of the companies we funded to show that their drugs, compounds, and treatments held significant promise for people with type 1 diabetes have now signed commercialization agreements with major pharmaceutical companies to take those products through the last phases of clinical testing. And we structured a unique partnership with the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation to develop drug targets for regenerative treatments and cures.
Something has also changed in the world in which we operate.
Without question, the past year was a difficult one. World economic conditions were the worst in decades, unemployment and business failures were at all-time highs, and staggering sums of personal wealth were wiped out in market declines. Charitable organizations around the world felt the impact. So did JDRF.
But not to the extent others did-and that is all because of you. JDRF's supporters continued to understand the importance of maintaining the strong momentum we have created in diabetes research. As a result of your generosity -- even in the face of tough economic times -- JDRF was able to fund more than $100 million in research for only the sixth time in our 40-year history. JDRF changed, to ensure we could continue to drive that momentum.
We have positioned the organization to be chapter-centric-recognizing that our chapters, with their close connection to people with diabetes and their families, are the engine that drives JDRF.
And we changed how we do research.
Not because the research we funded was not successful -- as noted, we saw some terrific advances last year in JDRF-supported diabetes science. But with far more research opportunities than we could fund, we had to make some difficult choices about where to commit our resources.
We created a list of strategic priorities -- focusing on research that leads to products and treatments in the near term, and that benefits people at all stages of diabetes, from the newly diagnosed to those living with the disease for years, even decades.
Our research focus is patient-centric. These criteria allow us to choose the most exciting and potentially impactful research -- research that would not happen if not for JDRF's involvement.
The year 2010 will mark the 40th year of JDRF's existence, the first few as a small but passionate collection of parents under the banner of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, who remarkably pushed the scientific community to focus on a disease that had been ignored for more than half a century. Today, JDRF is a global leader in diabetes research, the go-to organization for the diabetes research community, and the best source of hope for better treatments and a cure for people with type 1 diabetes and its complications. The efforts of people impacted by the disease, as well as mothers, fathers, and families, of doctors and researchers, and of legislators and administrators around the world are certainly worth recognizing. We intend to reflect the many important changes that benefit the lives of people with type 1 diabetes. But we will not be celebrating -- as we have yet to find the cure.
If the past year -- and in fact the progress of the past four decades -- are any indication, we can now move more and more quickly towards a cure. And ultimately, we will find a cure.
In that regard, our commitment and passion have not changed at all.