JDRF logo

We are delighted to announce that the BIA’s official charity of the year for 2016 will be JDRF, the type 1 diabetes charity. The BIA will be supporting the charity to raise funds and will be working with the JDRF team to see how the two organisations can work together to promote the vital role that UK bioscience plays in solving unmet patient need. Here, Dr Clare McVicker, Director of Research Advocacy at JDRF, explains more about the charity and the opportunities our new partnership could bring in 2016 – for both JDRF and for BIA members.

I am delighted that JDRF has been chosen as BIA’s charity partner for 2016. I lead our Research Advocacy efforts in the UK, seeking and developing new partnerships to speed progress in type 1 research. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition affecting millions of people worldwide. It can only be treated by giving replacement insulin – an imprecise process that changes daily, with serious short and long term consequences of getting it wrong.

However, fundamental research is now showing us more and more opportunities to intervene in the progression of this life-long, life-threatening condition. The promise of a cure is finally becoming more tangible – and JDRF exists to ensure that promise is realised as soon as possible

I am proud to say that we support research along the full length of the development pipeline, from basic underpinning research, to further understand the pathophysiology of type 1 diabetes, to clinical trials.

But we don’t stop there. At JDRF, we work with regulators too, ensuring that they have the right evidence to assess new developments against meaningful outcome measures. And we also advocate for people with type 1 to be able to access new treatments by working with NICE and SIGN, ensuring their guidance reflects the impact of new developments on day to day life with type 1 diabetes, not just ‘the numbers game’ to which managing type 1 can sometimes be reduced.

I see this new partnership with BIA as an opportunity to accelerate the delivery of new treatments to patients with type 1 diabetes.  I know that it can sometimes be difficult for BIA members to gain a patient’s perspective on something under development – I can help you make those connections.

Although the walls are coming down, there are still some barriers preventing academics and industry from working together productively. Again I can help BIA members to make connections and overcome these barriers, helping you to share expertise, tools and resources and develop new collaborations.

As a funder with a sizeable annual budget for new research around the world, we can also be a powerful ally. I think JDRF is leading the charge for medical research charities because we have long embraced a role in proving concepts and de-risking early phase research in partnership with companies.  We also know that BIA members have expertise that we don’t – I want to work with you to understand how research projects that we have identified as promising science that needs support, could be made as commercially viable as possible. I hope we will be able to facilitate the development of innovative new start-ups or spin-outs with products to transform the lives of people with type 1 by creating syndicates of funders.

So while I hope being the BIA’s charity of the year raises lots of money that we can use to improve the lives of people with type 1, I also hope the partnership will catalyse new relationships that can smooth the path to a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Please call me to chat about how your expertise could be applied to type 1 diabetes. From diagnostic tools to innovative materials or knowledge of regulatory processes and access to compound libraries there are myriad ways for us to work together – let’s use 2016 to find out what they are!