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David Panzirer’s Wired Op-Ed Challenges Private Donors to Fund Innovation

Updated: 8/14/21 8:00 amPublished: 10/1/14
By Adam Brown

Twitter Summary: @DpT1D of the #helmsleytrust talks about need 4 philanthropic support in #T1D in inspiring Wired op-ed

David Panzirer, a trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust (HCT), wrote a compelling op-ed piece for Wired titled, “When the Biomedical Industry Can’t Prioritize Diseases, Private Money Can Save Lives​.” Mr. Panzirer begins the piece with the story of his daughter, who was diagnosed with type 1 at age six. He shares his opinion that compared to type 2 diabetes, the small number of type 1 patients discourages companies from investing in new technologies and therapies for that cohort. And when industry does spend resources on type 1, he says that the FDA can make the drug approval process “slow and costly.”  For these reasons, he calls for private philanthropists to step up and fund innovation for diseases that are overlooked by industry.

As an example, he discusses the HCT’s T1D Program, which has become the largest foundation funder in type 1 diabetes; more than $230 million has gone to various diabetes grants since its founding in 2008. Mr. Panzirer specifically highlights Drs. Ed Damiano and Steve Russell’s bionic pancreas, which has been funded largely by HCT and other private donors. We appreciated the visibility of Mr. Panzirer in such a high-profile media outlet, and we salute him for calling on private donors to help accelerate innovation in areas of need. We are curious who he was specifically targeting! He effectively reiterated some of his comments in our five-part interview with him and the T1D Exchange’s Mr. Dana Ball – to learn more, see the five part series below:

Part 1. How The Helmsley Charitable Trust became one of the most important players in diabetes, and the funding needs and challenges in type 1

Part 2. The Future of the Type 1 Diabetes Field – what challenges and promises lie ahead?

Part 3. Controversies in Diabetes: Technology, Debates, and the “Cure”

Part 4. The T1D Exchange: A story of David and Dana’s drive to accelerate innovative type 1 diabetes research

Part 5. What can diabetes advocates learn from successes of the HIV/AIDs movement?


[Disclosure: diaTribe is supported in part by a grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust.]

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About the authors

Adam Brown joined diaTribe in 2010 as a Summer Associate, became Managing Editor in 2011, and served as Senior Editor through 2019. Adam brings almost two decades of personal experience... Read the full bio »