Del Mar nonprofit seeking grant recipients for Type 1 diabetes research


Del Mar nonprofit Diabetes Research Connection will be awarding at least four grants ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 for Type 1 diabetes research, aimed at potential cures and prevention measures.

Karen Hooper, executive director of the Diabetes Research Connection
(Joseph Y. Wong)

“We give these grants to try to go where no one else is going, trying to really incentivize new ideas among the youngest scientists,” said Karen Hooper, who became the nonprofit’s executive director last March. “That’s important to us because we want to make sure that the talent pipeline is there in the future. As seasoned Type 1 Diabetes researchers retire, there have to be people behind them for the science to continue.”

Previously, Hooper was with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“I’ve been getting acclimated and really just trying to help them grow the organization” Hooper said. “I think there’s so much potential to really do some awesome work for the Type I diabetes community here.”

According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 1.6 million Americans have Type 1 diabetes, including nearly 200,000 children. About 5-10% of people with diabetes have Type 1, which means their pancreases aren’t producing enough insulin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since 2012, when the Diabetes Research Connection launched, it has grown from $50,000 in revenue the year it was founded to more than $1 million in 2016, according to its financial disclosures.

Researchers who want to apply will first have to send a letter of intent, which will be reviewed by the Diabetes Research Connection’s Scientific Review Committee, before the Aug. 31 deadline. The second round of the process includes three-page grant applications. Members of the committee are scientists who come from institutions such as UCLA, UC San Francisco, Columbia University, Salk Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Florida.

“Each application is vetted by DRC’s specialty advisory panel of diabetes experts from around the country,” Vincenzo Cirulli, M.D., Ph.D., the nonprofit’s scientific director, said in a statement. “If the project meets our criteria for feasibility and potential impact, it moves on. The entire scientific review process takes about 12 weeks. Our scientific advisors and staff are committed to identifying groundbreaking T1D research projects to support.”

Sangeeta Dhawan, a diabetes researcher from cancer research hospital City of Hope, worked with the Diabetes Research Connection on a project called “Making More and Better Insulin Producing Cells.”

“DRC provided incredible support, reviews, and feedback,” Dhawan said in a statement. “Comments on my pre-proposal helped me refine my experimental plan, and input provided by the layperson committee enabled me to produce a stronger proposal. And it was one of the fastest reviews of my career.”

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