Australia's largest study on the causes of Type 1 Diabetes receives $8m boost

Monday, 27 April 2015

JDRF Australia’s Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network (T1DCRN) partners with the Helmsley Charitable Trust to expand unique ENDIA study, which is lead by renowned University of Adelaide paediatrics and diabetes researcher.
JDRF Australia has today announced that a prestigious new international partner has invested in the T1DCRN, a JDRF Australia initiative. The agreement between The Leona M. and Harry B.

Helmsley Charitable Trust (Helmsley Charitable Trust), the world’s largest private foundation funder for type 1 diabetes-related initiatives, and JDRF Australia, will provide AUD $8 million for a ground-breaking study to help solve the mystery of what causes type 1 diabetes.

The T1DCRN is supported by the Australian Government through a $35 million grant awarded as a Special Research Initiative for Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes through the Australian Research Council.

Australia’s unique ENDIA study will investigate 1,400 pregnant women and their babies across Australia whose unborn or newborn baby has an immediate relative with type 1 diabetes. This may be the mother herself, or the baby’s father or a sibling. It is Australia’s largest study into the causes of type 1 diabetes. The new funding for ENDIA will enable researchers to complete recruitment for the study in major hospitals across the country, as well as funding new scientific investigations in Australia’s leading research institutes and universities.

ENDIA aims to identify the environmental factors, together with a person’s genes, that may influence the development of type 1 diabetes. "We believe children are exposed to the environmental triggers that lead to type 1 diabetes very early in life – perhaps even before they're born," says the study’s Principal Investigator, Professor Jenny Couper from the University of Adelaide and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Speaking about the partnership, Dr. Dorota Pawlak, Head of Research Development at JDRF Australia and Director of the T1DCRN said, “It is thanks to the world-leading excellence of Australian research and researchers, as well as the Australian Government’s investment in the T1DCRN that has enabled us to attract international investment from such a highly respected partner, the Helmsley Charitable Trust.

“This funding injection will have a transformational impact on the scope and outcomes of the ENDIA study with the potential to accelerate patient benefit for more than 120,000 Australians with type 1 diabetes, and millions of other patients around the world,” she continued.

ENDIA investigator Professor Len Harrison, from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne said, "We were selected by the Helmsley Charitable Trust because it recognised the originality and quality of this Australian research on the origins of type 1 diabetes. There is a growing realisation that many diseases have their origins in early life. The ENDIA study is the first study in the world to apply high-tech science from early pregnancy to understand how genes and environment interact to cause type 1 diabetes”.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust is the world’s 27th largest charitable trust. It aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional non-profits that are aligned with its mission. This will be the first time the Helmsley Trust has invested in Australian research.

“We are delighted to support JDRF Australia in further leveraging the Australian Government’s significant investment in the groundbreaking ENDIA study,” said Dr. Gina Agiostratidou, Senior Program Officer in the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Type 1 Diabetes Program. “This study will provide critical broad scale data that will drive our ability to investigate the early stages of type 1 diabetes and identify potential new pathways to prevent it.”

The partnership marks a successful outcome of the Australian Government’s strategy to put Australian research and researchers on an international platform, through it’s ARC investment of $35 million over five years, which contributes towards the T1DCRN. The ARC funding was awarded last year as part of a Special Research Initiative for Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes, led by JDRF Australia to expand a national collaborative network to coordinate team-based cross-disciplinary research projects.

The ENDIA study commenced with initial grant funding from Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council and a further grant from JDRF.


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