Type 1 Diabetes—Reaping the Rewards of a Targeted Research Investment

Judith E. Fradkin; Julie A. Wallace; Beena Akolkar; Griffin P. Rodgers


Diabetes. 2016;65(2):307-313. 

In This Article

The Special Diabetes Program for Type 1 Diabetes Research

Toward that end, the Special Statutory Funding Program for Type 1 Diabetes Research (SDP), a unique funding stream from the U.S. Congress managed by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), provided nearly $2.5 billion over 20 years, generating a targeted, sustained investment in high-risk, high-reward, collaborative, large-scale research with specific goals. In collaboration with the other institutes and centers of the NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and with input from public partnerships with JDRF, the American Diabetes Association, and the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Foundation, the NIDDK has conducted a strategic planning, implementation, and evaluation process for this program to ensure the most scientifically productive use of the funds. The SDP has catalyzed and synergized the efforts of a wide range of NIH and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) components to combat type 1 diabetes and complications, making it a model trans-NIH and trans-HHS program.

Since it was established in 1998, the SDP enabled the creation of large-scale consortia spanning prevention, treatment, and cure of type 1 diabetes and its complications that would not be possible with regular funding mechanisms. The unique SDP funding fostered high-risk, high-reward research and supported the career development of the next generation of type 1 diabetes researchers. Results from SDP-supported programs are already improving the lives of people with type 1 diabetes and are paving the way toward future successes. A number of recent exciting results from SDP-supported research illuminate the contribution this program has made in the field of type 1 diabetes research. The cumulative, wide-ranging, and scientifically consequential rewards from this program demonstrate how a targeted research investment can accelerate development of new therapies. Here, we highlight a number of recent significant findings that have emerged from the SDP and discuss new opportunities that will be pursued with the recent renewal of the program.