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NIH Commits $15 Million to Fund Type 1 Diabetes Genetic Research

Published: 7/29/15

Twitter summary: The @NIH will dedicate $15 million to groups researching genetics and type 1 diabetes in 2016 

The NIH recently announced plans to give $15 million to research groups investigating the genetics of type 1 diabetes. This grant will fund four to five projects in 2016, and is open for submission from any entity, including university institutions, nonprofits, businesses, and governments. With this initiative, the NIH seeks to accelerate the discovery of genes that directly influence the risk for type 1 diabetes, and to better understand the associations that have already been established.

In recent years, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified over 50 locations in the human genome (which holds all of our genetic information) that are linked with varying levels of risk for type 1 diabetes. However, researchers still have yet to understand what these associations exactly mean: which genes in particular affect diabetes risk, and how do they do it? Further understanding these genomic associations will not only give us insights into the cause(s) of diabetes and how to treat it, but also can help us learn how to predict who might develop diabetes and how to prevent it.

The NIH is joining other organizations that have recently pledged millions towards type 1 diabetes prevention research, such as the Helmsley Charitable Trust and major pharmaceutical companies like Johnson & Johnson and Novartis. Diabetes research funding has historically lagged behind that of other diseases, leaving significant room to learn more about the causes of diabetes. Recently, Congress increased the 2016 budget for the diabetes research branch of the NIH (NIDDK) by $22 million, to a total of $1.77 billion. While we celebrate this increased focus on diabetes research, diabetes diagnoses still generate $245 billion in healthcare costs each year, highlighting the need for continued growth in prevention research. –NK

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