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Research funding

JDRF funds small pilot projects exploring promising diabetes research ideas

We are delighted to announce the recipients of our latest Small Grant Awards: Dr Joanne Boldison, Dr Fiona Docherty and Dr Nicholas Thomas.
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Caroline Schmutz 15 March 2023

We are delighted to announce the recipients of our latest Small Grant Awards: Dr Joanne Boldison, Dr Fiona Docherty and Dr Nicholas Thomas. These three UK-based researchers are all focusing on different areas of type 1 diabetes, from preventing its onset to replacing insulin-producing cells in people who already have it.

What are the JDRF Small Grant Awards?

The JDRF UK Small Grant Awards are small sums of money given to early career researchers in the UK to get their research started. Awarded each year, these grants offer funding of up to £25,000 to any project focused on type 1 diabetes. As the money available is less than our larger grants, the awards often give early career researchers an opportunity to get funding when they otherwise might not.

Who are the three researchers?

Dr Joanne Boldison

Joanne’s research project will investigate immune cells called B-cells – not to be confused with insulin-producing beta cells. These immune cells could be involved in the development of type 1 diabetes. Joanne will try to understand more about B-cells and their role in type 1 to see if they could be targeted by potential treatments for type 1.

Dr Fiona Docherty

Fiona will try to grow insulin-producing beta cells in her lab that can release more insulin than the beta cells currently being used in a clinical trial in the US. She will turn stem cells – cells that can grow into any other cell type – into beta cells and activate a gene that she knows controls insulin production at different stages in the beta cells’ development. Fiona hopes to create high functioning beta cells, which could one day be used in clinical trials to treat type 1 diabetes.

Dr Nicholas Thomas

Nick’s project will follow-up 850 people who were diagnosed with type 1 or 2 diabetes three years ago. They have all done a C-peptide test to see how much insulin their bodies can still release, which can help confirm whether someone has type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Nick will use this test along with questionnaires to find out whether these people’s diagnosis and/or treatment changed due to their C-peptide levels. This research aims to ensure everyone with diabetes is given the right diagnosis, treatment, technologies and education.

When will we see the results of these research projects?

All our Small Grant Awards offer funding for one year. After the projects end, the researchers will then need to analyse their results and produce a paper about their research. If their projects are successful, the researchers are also likely to apply for more funding to scale up their research.