Skip to main content

£50m donation for type 1 diabetes research to lead the race for a cure

The Steve Morgan Foundation, JDRF UK and Diabetes UK join forces to invest the largest ever single philanthropic gift in type 1 diabetes research.
JDRF logo placeholder for author profile picture
Kate Lawton 25 April 2022

Steve and Sally Morgan and their son, Hugo

An extraordinary investment

Today, as part of celebrations marking the centenary anniversary of the first use of insulin to treat type 1 diabetes, a new partnership has been announced between the Steve Morgan Foundation (SMF), JDRF and Diabetes UK to transform the lives of people with type 1 diabetes and lead the race towards cures.

Through the extraordinary and unparalleled £50 million investment from the Steve Morgan Foundation, the partnership will fund game-changing type 1 diabetes research that will drive forward the development of new treatments and cures.

SMF’s donation is the largest ever single gift in the UK for diabetes research, and this is the first time that JDRF UK and Diabetes UK have partnered with a foundation to deliver research at this scale.

SMF has donated a total of £7m to JDRF over the last three years, becoming the biggest single donor in the charity’s history.

Beyond insulin

Steve and Sally Morgan are motivated by their personal connection with the condition. Their son Hugo was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of seven, giving them direct experience of how relentless managing this serious condition is. They are making their generous, pioneering donation to lead the way in type 1 diabetes research innovations and breakthroughs, with the ultimate goal of finding a cure.

The announcement comes 100 years after the discovery of insulin by a team of international scientists, who later went on to receive a Nobel Prize for their discovery. Since then, insulin has saved the lives of millions of people living with type 1.

But 100 years after this innovation and the many improvements to treatments that have followed, type 1 diabetes still requires intensive daily monitoring and treatment. The new partnership will help us move beyond insulin in its current form as the only treatment for type 1 diabetes, as well as driving us towards cures.

SMF’s donation will fund the SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge over five years. The Challenge will call on scientists to come up with research ideas that are bigger, bolder, and more collaborative than ever seen before.

The SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge will focus on three areas of research, which were decided on after consultation with world-class scientists and people with type 1 diabetes. These areas were identified as carrying the most potential to improve the lives of people with type 1 and propel us towards a cure:

  • Treatments to replace or rescue insulin-making beta cells in the pancreas
  • Treatments to stop the immune system’s attack that destroys insulin-making beta cells
  • Next generation insulins, such as those that respond to changing blood sugar levels

Bigger pots, bigger ideas

The SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge is a very different and exciting way of funding research. It will support projects of a greater scale bringing the world’s best scientists together to deliver ambitious and innovative research projects at scale. This investment will enable us to take huge leaps instead of small steps towards a cure for type 1 diabetes.

The first funding calls will be made later this year, which will focus on treatments to replace or rescue beta cells and novel insulins.

JDRF is the leading, not for profit, global type 1 diabetes research foundation. The charity has invested more than £1.5 billion in the last forty years to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes and its complications.

Diabetes UK invests £6-7 million every year into new research projects looking at all types of diabetes and its complications. The Steve Morgan Foundation’s £50 million investment will come on top of their usual research budget, which will continue to support scientists working in all areas of diabetes.

Steve and Sally Morgan, Founders of the Steve Morgan Foundation, said:

“We’re so incredibly proud to announce this landmark partnership with Diabetes UK and JDRF UK. With the expertise of the two leading diabetes charities in the UK, and our shared ambition to improve the lives of people with type 1 diabetes, the SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge will supercharge type 1 diabetes research, with the aim of having new treatments and ultimately a cure.

“We know from our own experience the impact that type 1 diabetes has on family life – it’s something we carry with us every day. But with research we can change that, and allow people with type 1 diabetes and their families to live without this relentless, lifelong condition.

“We want this ground-breaking partnership to inspire and motivate other funders to join in the shared ambition of the SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge, paving the way for a better future for those living with type 1 diabetes and their families.”

Karen Addington, Chief Executive at JDRF UK, said:

“This ground-breaking partnership, the UK’s largest ever single philanthropic gift for type 1 diabetes research, will catalyse medical research in a way never done before. In this golden age of type 1 diabetes research, advances in immunotherapy and stem cell research have put us within touching distance of functional cures.

“JDRF was founded on the values and practice of collaboration, both in the UK and internationally, and together with the Steve Morgan Foundation and Diabetes UK, we will drive research further, leading from the UK and drawing on JDRF’s global network of research excellence.

“I always think about the critically ill, eleven-year-old boy, Leonard Thompson whose life was saved 100 years ago, the first person ever to receive a dose of insulin. The Nobel Prize winning discovery of insulin was one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. Together, through the SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge we will match the ambition of those scientists a century ago in our drive and expertise to cure type 1 diabetes.”

Chris Askew OBE, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK, said:

“We’re delighted to launch this prestigious partnership with the Steve Morgan Foundation and JDRF UK. This unparalleled investment will change the course of type 1 diabetes research forever, galvanising the diabetes research community and accelerating us towards a cure that will change millions of lives not only in the UK but worldwide.

“We’re incredibly grateful to Steve and Sally Morgan for their £50 million investment and their commitment to transforming the lives of people with type 1 diabetes. This is a call to arms for the scientific community, and we look forward to working with JDRF UK to unite the brightest minds in type 1 diabetes research to fuel new breakthroughs, together.

“For the last 100 years insulin has been the only treatment for the condition, but this pivotal moment for type 1 diabetes marks the dawn of a new century of discovery. Type 1 diabetes is relentless, but so are we, and this investment catapults us towards a world where type 1 diabetes finally relents, and diabetes can do no harm.”

Jayne Fairclough’s daughter, Libby, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2019, aged three. Jayne said:

“As a family, we’ve sometimes struggled since Libby’s diagnosis. And as Libby is only five, the responsibility for keeping her healthy is on us as her parents. The relentlessness of type 1 diabetes, and the way it impacts a family, can never be underestimated.

“This huge investment from the Steve Morgan Foundation is incredible news to us as a family. We are so hopeful that the future will be a life for Libby that’s free of the challenges of type 1 diabetes, where she will be able to go about her day without the constant checking of her blood sugars.

“Thank you to everyone who has made this happen, and to all the researchers who will be working hard towards a cure for Libby and everyone living with diabetes.”

The Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP, JDRF UK Ambassador, said:

“Today’s announcement of a £50 million research partnership to accelerate cures and better treatments for type 1 diabetes is historic. The partnership between JDRF, the Steve Morgan Foundation and Diabetes UK will embed the UK’s position as a global leader in type 1 medical research and international research excellence. I look forward to seeing the SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge propel progress in a new era of type 1 diabetes research breakthroughs.”

Related news

Read more
A row of vials of clear liquid with black lids. A blue gloved hand is pinching the top of the closest vial as if to pick it up.
13 May 2024

Novel insulin being developed to enable implantable insulin pumps

Medtronic Diabetes have announced they are funding the biopharmaceutical company Arecor Therapeutics to develop a novel, highly concentrated, thermostable insulin, which will be specialised for use in implantable insulin pumps.

Read more
Professor Colin Dayan at Cardiff University, working on immunotherapy for type 1 diabetes cure research
18 April 2024

Professor Colin Dayan presented with the 2023 JDRF Rumbough Award 

The award recognises Professor Dayan’s remarkable accomplishments in type 1 diabetes research.

Read more
Two young children sat on the floor hugging each other.
18 April 2024

Genetically unique siblings reveal new treatment target for type 1 diabetes

Two siblings who have unique changes in a key gene have given researchers new insights that could help lead to innovative new treatments in type 1 diabetes.

Read more
A female doctor works at a laptop on a table. She is wearing a shirt and glasses with a stethoscope around her neck.
17 April 2024

New international medical code launches for presymptomatic type 1 diabetes

JDRF-funded researchers from the University of Birmingham have joined forces with NHS England to develop a diagnostic code for use on electronic medical records of people in the earliest stages of type 1 diabetes, allowing them to receive better, more timely healthcare and access to emerging treatments.