Former UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2013, will become an Ambassador for JDRF, the type 1 diabetes charity, to champion its global research programme.
People with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition, must inject insulin every day and closely manage their blood glucose levels. Without these multiple daily interventions, people with the condition will not survive.
Announcing her decision to take up the role, Mrs May said: “Type 1 diabetes is a serious condition that requires a carefully managed routine, whether you are a 12-year-old school child or a prime minister standing at the despatch box.”
“But since my own diagnosis, I have seen the progress that JDRF’s international research programme has made.”
As an Ambassador, Mrs May will champion the charity’s groundbreaking research including the Connect Immune Research initiative, which brings together researchers from across autoimmune conditions to uncover the common threads in their work – meaning greater efficiency and, hopefully, new treatments, faster.
Scientists know there are similarities in the genetic risk factors for many autoimmune conditions. But their research typically operates in disease-specific silos. Connect Immune Research has the potential to transform the lives of four million people in the UK who live with an autoimmune condition.
Mrs May said: “Connect Immune Research is an example of the pioneering innovation that makes our UK scientific research community so globally renowned. It represents a different way of working across research disciplines, collaborating over shared goals. Innovative approaches like this will help the medical research sector adapt to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.”
She added: “The UK’s medical research charities are vital to making the UK a world leader in science and research, investing £1.9 billion into medical research last year, and giving a voice to people with conditions such as type 1 diabetes.”
Championing the cause
After initially being incorrectly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Mrs May has managed the condition first as Home Secretary, then later as Prime Minister, becoming the first world leader to live with type 1 diabetes.
Mrs May has always been clear that a diagnosis of diabetes doesn’t have to hold a person back. She said: ‘Living with diabetes doesn’t need to change what you can do. When I first discovered I had diabetes, I read a great quote from Steve Redgrave who went on to win his last Olympic gold medal after being diagnosed. He said, “diabetes must learn to live with me rather than me live with diabetes.” While we continue to hunt for new treatments and a cure, I think that’s a very important message to get across.’
Karen Addington, UK Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “We are delighted to welcome Theresa May as a JDRF Ambassador. Theresa has committed to championing our cause, bringing to life the seriousness of the condition, and raising the profile of type 1 diabetes and JDRF’s research.”
Protect our type 1 diabetes research
Mrs May’s support comes at a challenging time for JDRF, as the coronavirus crisis hits the charity’s ability to fundraise via marathons and other public events.
The charity is predicting an income shortfall of £1m by the end of June as a direct result of the coronavirus and has therefore launched an urgent appeal for donations, to help it protect its research to find new treatments and cures for type 1 diabetes.
To donate to JDRF’s appeal, please visit: www.jdrf.org.uk/donate