rachel-connor-jdrfAs the year draws to a close, today we reflect on our charity partnership for 2016 with a guest blog from Rachel Connor, Director of Research Partnerships at JDRF in the UK. It’s been a fantastic year of collaboration, raising awareness of type one diabetes and the important role of UK bioscience in ongoing research – read on for some of the highlights.

For JDRF and type 1 diabetes research the past twelve months have been marked by progress and excitement at what the future holds. We are delighted we could share this success with the BIA, as its 2016 Charity of the Year.

Over the past year the BIA has joined JDRF in Parliament, raised a significant sum at the annual Gala Dinner and celebrated new developments in vital research to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes and its complications. 2016 marks thirty years since JDRF was founded in the UK and it was fantastic to be joined by the BIA in marking three decades of research progress, and in looking to the future, where we are confident we will find the cure for type 1 diabetes. Partnerships where JDRF can join forces with organisations such as the BIA are a vital aspect of this.

JDRF 30th Anniversary Dinner, Guildhall, London. Byline John Nguyen/JNVisuals 27/10/2016

BIA CEO Steve Bates talks to the Duchess of Cornwall at the JDRF 30th Anniversary Dinner

In January, our team were lucky enough to attend the BIA annual gala dinner at the Natural History Museum, joining 600 life science professionals, and what a terrific night it was. The evening raised a fantastic £30,000 for JDRF. Much of this was raised from a silent auction that followed a touching speech from our supporter Simon Vinnicombe, whose young son lives with type 1 diabetes.

Simon spoke passionately about what the cure for type 1 diabetes would mean for his and so many other families in the UK. Simon’s description of the day-to-day struggles of caring for a young child with type 1 diabetes was deeply moving. And sadly his is a story shared by so many others. But this is why his speech was a vital reminder of the importance of supporting type 1 diabetes research.

Simon Vinnicombe addressing the BIA Gala Dinner

Simon Vinnicombe addressing the BIA Gala Dinner

In April we were delighted to be joined by the BIA at our #Type1Catalyst event in the Houses of Parliament. This event saw 100 JDRF supporters – including young children from across the UK – join key figures in bioscience and research to meet with over 30 MPs, including the then-Home Secretary Theresa May, who lives with type 1 diabetes. The event saw the release of a report, titled Type 1 Research Today, which outlines the current landscape of type 1 diabetes research in the UK. This report presents a positive picture of UK government and charitable research funding available for developing insights into this condition and celebrated the recent acceleration of ground-breaking research.

The Type 1 Research Today report also highlighted that institutions and funders can maximise value through greater communication and partnership, calling on the UK funding ‘ecosystem’ to be protected and enhanced. Although we were unable to capture and reflect the scale of industry investment in to this research effort, we are absolutely clear that the life science industry is a vital partner in this research ecosystem.

This is one reason we were so pleased to be a part of the BIA Celebrating UK Bioscience campaign, showcasing research and collaborations taking place across the sector and helping to raise awareness of these essential aspects in biotechnology.

In July we shared the exciting news that JDRF was to partner with BIA member and Cambridge-based biopharmaceutical firm Arecor Ltd on a project which will see a focus on perfecting a concentrated form of insulin. This would mean that a smaller vial is needed to hold the liquid in an insulin pump, allowing the whole pump to miniaturise. Miniaturising devices such as insulin pumps will make them less intrusive, heavy and cumbersome, breaking down barriers to their use.

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The Arecor partnership was included as a case study in the Celebrating UK Bioscience campaign and JDRF joined Dr Jan Jezek, the Chief Scientific Officer at Arecor in presenting, via a video, the complex science in an accessible way. Simon Vinnicombe told his story as a poignant reminder of why such research is so important and valued on a human level.

We are honoured and grateful to have enjoyed twelve fruitful months as the BIA’s Charity of the Year. We now look forward to seeing further progress over the coming years, and hope to continue working with the many BIA members we have met through the year to the benefit of people with type 1.

Thank you for your partnership, your generosity and your attention in supporting JDRF to raise funds and awareness throughout this landmark year.

You can read about JDRF’s experience at our annual Parliament Day here.

For more information on JDRF’s partnership with BIA member Arecor, watch the video here or download the infographic here.

Earlier this week we announced Alzheimer’s Research UK as BIA charity partner for 2017 – find out more here.