Coming Together to Move Toward a Diabetes Cure
Diabetes Research Institute Foundation celebrates commitment to accelerate cure-focused research for type 1 diabetes.
The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation recently celebrated its extraordinary $50 million commitment to support the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and to formally welcome world-renowned immunologist, Matthias von Herrath, M.D., as the Institute’s new scientific director.
The celebration took place Oct. 5 at the Penthouse at the Riverside Wharf in Miami. More than 100 guests and supporters gathered to celebrate a new decade of discovery and partnership in type 1 diabetes research, thanks to the transformative generosity of the Foundation.
“Our objective and goal is the cure of a major disease, which is one of the most complex things in science,” said Bill Fishlinger, chairman of the National Board of Directors of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation. “But I have no doubt that through the collaboration of this University, this medical school, the Diabetes Research Institute, and the Foundation, there will be a cure for type 1 diabetes. And when that day comes, this University will be at the forefront of that breakthrough.”
Fifty Years of Type 1 Diabetes Advocacy
The Foundation is the fundraising arm of DRI and one of the largest and most consistent donors in the University’s history. It was established in 1971 by a small group of parents whose children were afflicted with type 1 diabetes.
The families mobilized to support cure-focused research in type 1 diabetes conducted by the DRI. Today, the Foundation has thousands of longtime supporters who have helped to make the Foundation one of the world’s foremost diabetes organizations.
“For more than five decades, the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation has encouraged the discovery of new ideas and the continuation of innovative research projects,” said University of Miami President Julio Frenk, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. “The Foundation’s incredible generosity is continuing to propel the University into the upper echelon of institutes dedicated to the discovery and treatment of T1D—not just in South Florida, but worldwide.”
Advances in the Search for a Type 1 Diabetes Cure
As one of the most comprehensive research centers dedicated to the prevention and curing of diabetes, the DRI is aggressively working to develop a biologic cure by restoring natural insulin production and normalizing blood sugar levels without imposing other risks.
Having been involved in recent studies with stem cell-derived islet transplants, which have demonstrated remarkable success in eliminating the need for insulin therapy in selected individuals with T1D, albeit requiring full systemic immunosuppression, the DRI acknowledges there are remaining challenges.
To extend the benefits of this revolutionary therapy beyond the most severe cases of T1D, the institute is actively developing improved immunotherapies for prevention and refining islet transplantation techniques to eliminate the need for systemic immunosuppression.
Dr. von Herrath said the Institute’s outstanding physician-scientists, culture of collaboration and continuity of groundbreaking research – three key factors that set the DRI apart – are what drew him to move to South Florida.
“I’m standing on shoulders of giants with deep gratitude,” said Dr. von Herrath, the Stacy Joy Goodman Chair at the Miller School. “Gratitude for being allowed to continue the journey I started 30 years ago in a quest to find either a cure or complete prevention of type 1 diabetes.”
Since arriving in early 2023, Dr. von Herrath is already having a transformative influence on the DRI’s approach to advancing cutting-edge disciplines.
“He has a collaborative approach that is inspiring and empowering other scientists to strive for their best,” said Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A, Miller School dean and chief academic officer. “Like the rest of our team, he is committed to the clinical translation of immune-based interventions into leading-edge patient care.”