Media Release
9 September 2015

Australian research boosted with $14 million diabetes grants

Today the Hon. Christopher Pyne, Minister for Education and Training, announced over $14 million in grants for research into type 1 diabetes, a chronic disease affecting more than 120,000 Australians.

The grants are issued by the Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network (T1DCRN), an innovative clinical research program led by JDRF Australia, which brings together researchers, patients, industry and international networks to share a strong focus on patient benefit.

The T1DCRN is supported by the Australian Government through the Special Research Initiative for Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes, a $35 million grant funded by the Australian Research Council.

Minister Pyne said the new grants will benefit 1,532 patients through access to latest treatments and therapies.

Minister Pyne is pictured with a Hypo Alert dog, who helps 7 year old Olivia manage her type 1 diabetes.
Minister Pyne is pictured with a Hypo Alert dog, who helps 7 year old Olivia manage her type 1 diabetes. Pictured (back row): the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, Minister for Education, Mike Wilson, CEO of JDRF Australia, Prof. Aidan Byrne, CEO of Australian Research Council.

“These grants are part of the largest ever single commitment to type 1 diabetes in Australia, achieved by this Government. Not only will these trials will be delivered collaboratively by more sites that ever before across Australia, they will potentially change thousands of lives affected by this serious chronic disease,” Minister Pyne said.

These grants are the first to be considered and recommended by the T1DCRN’s International Review Panel, made up of 11 of the most acclaimed international type 1 diabetes researchers. The Panel commended the applicants on the impressive standard of research in Australia, which is making a powerful contribution to the global effort to improve lives and ultimately cure type 1 diabetes.

International Review Panel Co-Chair Dr Carla Greenbaum MD, Director of the Diabetes Research Program and Clinical Research Center at Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI) in Seattle, said the international panel was delighted by the talent within the Australian research industry.

“Australia is a world leader and global player in type 1 diabetes research. We believe the recipients selected will be best placed to make serious groundwork in improving the lives of those living with type 1 diabetes as well as moving one step closer towards a cure,” Dr Greenbaum said.

JDRF Australia CEO and Managing Director, Mike Wilson, said 33 different clinical sites had been nominated in this round of grants, representing all states of Australia.

“These grants will see JDRF connect Australian researchers directly with Australians with type 1 diabetes. This dramatically increases the opportunity for people in the community to get involved with research, while providing support and resources to our medical researchers. By working together we have the best shot at curing, treating and preventing this disease,” said Mr Wilson.

Australian Research Council CEO Professor Aidan Byrne said the grants are welcome news for Australian research.

“Australia boasts some of the world’s most innovative scientific researchers in the world. These grants are a much needed boost and will cement Australia’s place on the international research stage,” Prof Byrne said.

This round of grants will support 51 of Australia’s best researchers.

For more information please visit

Media contact: Mindy Gold, Buchan Consulting, 02 9237 2808 // 0431 143 897


About JDRF and type 1 diabetes

JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. JDRF Australia is built on a grassroots model of people connecting in their local communities, collaborating regionally for efficiency and broader fundraising impact, and uniting on an international stage to pool resources, passion and energy. Our mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. To accomplish this, JDRF has invested nearly $2 billion since our inception. We collaborate with academic institutions, policymakers, and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with T1D. Our staff and volunteers in seven countries are dedicated to advocacy, community engagement and our vision of a world without T1D. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter: @JDRFaus.

About the Australian Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network (T1DCRN)

The Australian Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network (T1DCRN) is a collaboration of researchers and members of the type 1 diabetes community who are dedicated to increasing the excellence of clinical research that will positively impact the lives of people with type 1 diabetes in Australia.

As a Special Research Initiatives scheme funded by the Australian Research Council, the T1DCRN has received Australian Government funding of up to $35 million for a period of up to five years to fund most promising research and researchers dedicated to finding a cure for type 1 juvenile diabetes and its complications.

Recipient biographies and research areas

  1. Professor Mark Cooper, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute: Nox inhibition in type 1 diabetic kidney disease

Kidney complications will affect 1 in 3 people with type 1 diabetes in their lifetimes, and there is an urgent need to develop therapies that effectively treat and prevent these complications. This clinical trial will investigate whether a novel antioxidant drug can stop, slow or reverse the development of kidney disease in adults with type 1 diabetes.

Professor Mark Cooper is Chief Scientific Officer and Deputy Director of Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, and is internationally recognised for his work in diabetes and its complications. His research has led to new treatments that are today used worldwide for diabetic kidney disease.

  1. Associate Professor Elizabeth Davis, University of Western Australia: Reducing blood glucose extremes caused by food and exercise in young people with type 1 diabetes

For people with type 1 diabetes, everyday activities such as exercise and eating can cause unpredictable fluctuations in blood glucose levels, increasing the risk of dangerously low blood glucose and long-term complications. This research program will improve our understanding of how blood glucose is affected by exercise and food in real-life situations, to help young people with diabetes achieve optimal glucose control.

Associate Professor Elizabeth Davis is a Paediatric Endocrinologist and Head of the Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology at Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth, WA. She is also a Clinical Associate Professor at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research. Associate Professor Davis works as a clinician and is actively involved in research in diabetes, obesity and the metabolic syndrome in children.

  1. Professor Alicia Jenkins, University of Sydney: FAME 1 Eye Study – preventing vision loss in type 1 diabetes

Damage to the back of the eye is a common complication of type 1 diabetes, and can lead to blindness. The FAME 1 Eye Study is investigating whether fenofibrate, a drug that is already known to be safe, can slow or reverse eye dame in adults with type 1 diabetes. Professor Jenkins will use T1DCRN funding to expand the existing study and test the effect of fenofibrate on other complications including nerve, kidney and cardiovascular damage.

Professor Alicia Jenkins is Professor of Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Sydney. She is a clinical endocrinologist and director of leading research groups exploring ways to treat and prevent diabetes and it complications. In addition to her research contributions, her public good work has led the growth of the international programs for access to insulin and related diabetes supplies that have eased and saved the lives of many people with diabetes in over 45 disadvantaged countries.

  1. Professor Philip O’Connell, Westmead Millennium Institute: Strategies for drug-free immunosuppression in islet transplantation

Human islet transplantation provides a virtual cure for people with type 1 diabetes, but a major obstacle that prevents its widespread use is the need for powerful, lifelong immunosuppressive drugs to prevent islet rejection. Professor O’Connell’s research program aims to develop alternative strategies that promote immune tolerance towards transplanted islets, to make islet transplantation a viable option for more Australians living with type 1 diabetes.

Professor Philip O’Connell is Director of the Centre for Transplant and Renal Research at the Westmead Millennium Institute and Director of Transplant Medicine and the Clinical Islet Transplant Program at Westmead Hospital. He is also director of the Australian Clinical Islet Transplant Consortium, and led the Australian Islet Transplantation Program from 2005-2011. His research is currently focused primarily on rejection of islet transplants, and developing viable non-human islets as a clinical therapy.

  1. Professor Timothy Jones, University of Western Australia: The assessment and translation of closed loop insulin therapy in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes 

    Associate Professor David O’Neal, University of Melbourne:  Evaluation of the efficacy of closed loop insulin delivery in adults with type 1 diabetes[1]

Keeping blood glucose levels in a normal range is difficult to achieve and places an enormous burden on patients and families living with type 1 diabetes. It is hoped that closed-loop or ‘artificial pancreas’ devices will lift this burden by automatically measuring blood glucose and delivering the precise amount of insulin needed. Professor Jones will be assessing artificial pancreas devices in children and adolescents, and Associate Professor O’Neal will be evaluating these devices in adults to determine if they safely and effectively improve blood glucose control and quality of life.

Professor Timothy Jones is Head of Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology at the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth, and Clinical Professor at the Institute for Child Health Research at the University of Western Australia. Professor Jones is a world leader in research related to developing diabetes technologies, and has a strong interest in hypoglycaemia, closed-loop insulin therapy, technology and complications.

Associate Professor David O’Neal is Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Melbourne. He is also Senior Endocrinologist in the at St. Vincent’s Hospital and Clinical Director of Medical, Subacute and Palliative Care Services at Mercy Public Hospitals. He heads two insulin pump clinics and is the physician in charge of clinical trials at St Vincent’s. He has had a long-term research interest in the interface between technology and people living with diabetes.


[1] The two titles to this project need to be reproduced as they appear in this document, pending any change approvals from JDRF

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