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Home > News & events > News > “JDRF research has transformed lives” Theresa May and Nina Wadia talk type 1 diabetes at JDRF fundraiser
JDRF Global Research Ambassador Theresa May answered questions from the audience about how she managed her type 1 diabetes while in office.
Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2012 when she was Home Secretary, Mrs May became the first world leader with type 1 when she became Prime Minister in 2016. She has been an Ambassador for JDRF since 2020, raising awareness of the condition and championing JDRF’s global research programme.
Speaking at the event, Mrs May said: “Research is vital, and we both know the wide range of research that JDRF funds and supports. It’s enabling us to improve the lives of people with type 1 right now, and to work towards stopping people from developing type 1 in the future.
“The research that JDRF has done has transformed lives.”
Mrs May then answered questions from the audience about how she managed her type 1 diabetes whilst in office, including how she dealt with hypos during long meetings, travelling and attending State Banquets where she could not carb count in advance.
She said: “Formal state banquets aren’t that difficult because they run to a very rigid timetable, so you know exactly when you’re going to eat. Speaking at a dinner event is much harder because you have no idea how quickly the meal will be served.”
In response, Nina warned her: “Don’t ever go to an Indian wedding!”
Mrs May also talked about the technology that helps her manage type 1.
“The great thing about technology these days is that you’re not worried about testing now and then, because it’s so easy,” she said.
“I use a FreeStyle Libre, which is transformative. Knowing what your blood glucose level is doing at any one moment is crucial, so having the technology to see it clearly on a phone makes a huge difference.”
Nina Wadia, who was awarded an OBE for her services to charity and entertainment in 2020, has supported JDRF since her son, Aidan, was diagnosed with type 1 in 2017.
In contrast to Mrs May, Nina’s son uses both an Omnipod insulin pump and a Dexcom continuous glucose monitor.
She said: “Aidan said he didn’t want wires, so when we were introduced to the Omnipod I said, ‘I’m getting him one of those.’”
Nina has raised significant funds for JDRF research through appearances on Sitting on a Fortune, Celebrity Catchpoint and Celebrity Pointless.
The event was co-sponsored by Abbott and Insulet, and included a fundraising raffle sponsored by Gem Voyager.
The research, which was co-funded by JDRF, reveals that drugs that target the immune system offer very effective and rapid improvements in stabilising blood sugar levels, often within just three months.
The new JDRF-funded clinical trial called SOPHIST will test a drug to help people with type 1 diabetes and heart failure.
Results from a clinical trial called the PROTECT study show that teplizumab can preserve beta cell function in children and adolescents newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.