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Find out the latest news about JDRF's research and fundraising events.

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Our intrepid transatlantic rowers complete 3,000 mile charity challenge in triumph

Two friends have reached dry land in triumph after spending 50 days crossing the mighty Atlantic in a small rowing boat – to raise money for JDRF.

Alex Bland and Harry Martin-Dreyer finally reached the coast of Barbados on Saturday 1 February, after setting off from Gran Canaria on 12 December last year and facing a host of dangers along the way.

They witnessed pods of dolphins, schools of whales, sharks and flying fish – the latter causing hilarity on board as both men experienced a direct hit to the face whilst rowing. They also lost most of their excess body fat and grew beards of varying quality!

The pair, who both hail from Shrewsbury in Shropshire, left their jobs in the City to take on the challenge and have raised over £137,000 for both JDRF and Cure Leukaemia.

Their thoughts and feelings have made for a tantalizing read via their regular blog updates along the way.

Alex and Harry celebrated Christmas and New Year on board ‘Alexandra’, their two man boat named after Harry’s mother who sadly passed away in March last year from leukaemia. Alex’s brother Ross lives with type 1 diabetes. These personal stories were what compelled them to take on the waves and embark on this remarkable test of human endurance.

Their progress has been steady, but not without perils and unforgettable experiences.  Massive waves they have nicknamed ‘sidewinders’ battered and bruised them mentally and physically. Blisters, sores, extreme heat, exhaustion and mind-numbing boredom tested their strengths to the limit but never broke their will to complete the crossing.

Both men saw the solitude and magnificence of the open Atlantic Ocean in all its beauty, stating that: “In our everyday lives few of us have the luxury of time and beautiful surroundings in which to enjoy complete unadulterated contemplation.”

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “Harry and Alex have proved themselves phenomenal fundraisers as well as athletes. Among the long list of heroic challenges that people have undertaken to support type 1 diabetes research, this stands out as something truly exceptional. Their magnificent journey will take us closer to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes, a condition which affects 400,000 people in the UK alone. We are deeply thankful.”

To see how our heroic rowers have gone from strength to strength, you can watch this insightful video, filmed last year during their initial training period. The messages of support they received during their crossing came from far and wide, and these have been a constant comfort for them both.

Harry and Alex are looking to raise £150,000 in total. It is still not too late to make a donation and catch up on their remarkable voyage via


Update: our brave rowers are now over half way on their transatlantic voyage!

Just over three weeks into their incredible 3,000 mile row across the Atlantic, Alex Bland and Harry Martin-Drewer have now reached their furthest point from land.

At 24 days and 11 hours, Harry and Alex who are rowing on behalf of JDRF and Cure Leukaemia, said: "Localised winds made the past 24 hours very slow - but today we reached the half-way point. Massive milestone.”

The boys have been updating the Rowing 4 Research website regularly with remarkable insights into their experience and journey so far.  With various ailments, endless work and minimal sleep, it is a pleasure to know that with every stroke they are getting closer to land, and continuing to make progress in the right direction.

Harry and Alex said: “We are in the middle of a true wilderness and at times it is hard not be overwhelmed by the remoteness and majesty of our surroundings. We have rarely felt more alive. Add to the picture an exquisite sunset or sunrise, an unbelievably bright starry night or even a pod of dolphins, and the daily hardships are quickly forgotten.”

Their courage and determination on this magnificent voyage is taking us even closer to finding the cure for type 1 diabetes.  To make a donation or to join us in avidly tracking the rest of their journey, visit


Limited spaces available for JDRF Climb Kilimanjaro 2014 – apply before it’s too late!

From 14-24 June 2014, the JDRF team will trek the beautiful Marangu Trail, through muddy rainforest, along rocky paths and over valleys, past glaciers and ice cliffs. Each night will be spent at a different campsite offering team members the opportunity to wake up to a stunning scenic view every morning – and to return home with the satisfaction of having scaled Africa’s biggest mountain.

Dr Ian Gallen, Editor of popular diabetes and exercise forum, said: “The JDRF Climb Kilimanjaro challenge is a fantastic opportunity for those with type 1 diabetes to prove to themselves and the world that having the condition does not stop them embracing the most physical and exciting conquests.”

Ian is also a Consultant Diabetologist at the Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust, Reading. “There will be DSNs (Diabetes Specialist Nurses) joining in the climb, who will provide specialist advice on training tips, equipment and nutrition. With careful understanding of how the body works, participants will have the chance to reach the summit, and return with the satisfaction of knowing that no challenge is ever impossible.”

Donor Development Officer at JDRF, Kris Wood (pictured), who lives with the condition and will be participating in the trek said: "Climbing Kilimanjaro with a team of people with type 1 diabetes is going to be a unique and amazing experience. I'm even celebrating my 28th birthday during the climb!" 

“This is an exciting and adventurous way to raise awareness for JDRF and fundraise for type 1 research. As a participant in a few clinical trials I appreciate how expensive vital medical research can be therefore events like this are extremely important." 

Spaces are filling fast so hurry and apply now! You don’t have to have type 1 diabetes to take part. Further information detailing the challenge can be found at the JDRF Climb Kilimanjaro page.


Professional extreme snowboarder living with type 1 diabetes - seven continents, seven adventures

Chris Southwell was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes eight years ago. Instead of letting this hold him back, he is currently undertaking his 7C7A Challenge which will see him tackle seven of the most demanding endurance events on seven continents.  

Having already completed the first leg of his tour, cycling 2100 km from Brussels to Barcelona in just 13 days, Chris is currently in the middle of training for his next challenge - a 100 mile run in five daily stages through the Himalayas.

Chris said: “I want to use the 7C7A Challenge to inspire, educate and motivate people to live their life to the full and show what you can achieve. I believe that my experiences will help people to get active and learn to control their chronic illness rather than the illness controlling them.” 

You can follow Chris’ incredible journey on the 7C7A website, where you can read his inspiring blog documenting his journey. You can also donate to his JustGiving page, through which he is supporting the work of JDRF and helping raise funds to one day find a cure. “I strongly support the important work JDRF does to find the cure for type 1 diabetes and its complications.  I believe that if you have the right control, determination, positive outlook and attitude you can achieve even your wildest of dreams… I am living mine!”


New fun app helps to manage type 1 diabetes while raising funds for JDRF

An amazing app that helps people have fun while managing their type 1 diabetes ­ and raise funds for JDRF has now been downloaded by 70,000 people with the condition.

The app is ‘mySugr Companion' and its ultimate aim is to change the philosophy of type 1 management.

It is a motivating and engaging app that helps people with insulin-treated diabetes take control of their condition, by gaming. The app acts as a fun logbook for daily activities and is centred on a ‘diabetes monster’. Points are gained for every logbook entry made and the aim is to tame the monster and keep it at bay!

The app has been approved by the FDA as a medical device and was developed together by health care professionals, psychologists and people living with type 1 diabetes. mySugr is innovative and extremely clever­ allowing users to play challenges to attain goals, monitor progress and even create a sleek report for emailing to their health care team.

Fredrik Debong, one of the founders of mySugr, lives with type 1 diabetes, as does almost half the company. Speaking to JDRF for Type 1 Discovery magazine earlier this year, he said: “To many of us it is a psychological burden that is not easy to carry. ‘Gamifying’ the care process of type 1, making it more fun, could reverse the traditional negative connotations.”

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, said that: "Fredrik is an amazing entrepreneur and fundraiser. He is an inspiration to all of us at JDRF and we are delighted that mySugr is proving so successful."

Every month, the community challenge in mySugr results in funds being donated to research projects supported by JDRF. The more people who play, the more money is donated! In just a few days a new challenge is launching, in collaboration with the professional snowboarder Chris Southwell, who has type 1 diabetes and is one of our amazing supporters!

This hugely successful app is available to download for iPhones now and you can follow @mySugr on Twitter or Facebook. Within the next few weeks the app will finally also reach Android. By downloading the app to your phone, you will get to enjoy its personal benefits while helping JDRF to continue funding its vital research projects in finding a cure for type 1 diabetes.

If you would like to hear more, Fredrik is coming to talk about mySugr at the next Type 1 Discovery evening in London on 13 November.


JDRF mourns the loss of founder Carol Lurie

The global JDRF family has been deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Carol Lurie. She and her husband Erwin, together with Lee Ducat and a select few passionate parents founded JDRF in 1970. The Luries' inspiration for founding JDRF was their son, Stephen, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 10.  Ever since, Carol and Erwin played a vital part in JDRF and its contributions to diabetes research, offering continual inspiration, guidance, and support working within the US and internationally. 

Carol was past International President, Executive Vice President, and she and Erwin founded the New York City chapter in 1971, where she served on the Planned Giving Committee and was Vice Chair of its highly successful annual Promise Ball.  Erwin, who passed away in 2009, was a past Chairman of the International Board of JDRF.

She was the inspiration behind three of JDRF's International Conferences on Diabetes Research, held in 1985, 1988, and 1992, co-sponsored by the World Health Organisation.  In October 1994, Carol was honoured by the Queen of Denmark and received Her Majesty's Distinguished Order of the Dannebrog for her efforts on behalf of diabetes research.  She was also appointed to New York State Council on Diabetes in 1988.  In the early '80s, both Carol and Erwin served on Advisory Boards for the National Institutes of Health - Erwin on Board of the National Eye Institute, and Carol on the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Board

Her son, James Lurie is a Board Director of JDRF in the UK as well as continuing to play an active role within JDRF in the US.  The condolences of everyone at JDRF go out to James and his family.


Kicking type 1 diabetes into touch

Michael Thornton, 12, from Canada, has proved that having type 1 diabetes doesn’t stop you living your dreams, after completing football trials with some of the biggest clubs in Europe, including A.S. Roma, Inter Milan, Manchester City and Paris St-Germain.

Michael, who lives in Toronto, Ontario, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged six. It was a huge shock as there wasn’t any history of type 1 in the family, but Michael soon began to gain confidence in managing his type 1. He has since proved himself to be a top athlete, completing football trials with some of the biggest clubs in Europe.

Kicking off in Italy

Michael’s international football trials started in 2012, when two Italian scouts were so impressed by a video of Michael's soccer highlights that they invited him to Italy to spend two weeks on trial at AS Roma. While there Michael was fortunate enough to meet the captain of the team, Francesco Totti. In January 2013 Michael returned to Italy to participate in more trials with two other Italian Serie A clubs – Inter Milan and U.C. Sampdoria. Michael captured the attention of the media, being one of the first diabetics they ever had participating in their academy. After receiving a successful report by the coaches and club, he was asked to come back again.

A match with Manchester City

Michael also came to the UK in January 2013 to trial for Manchester City, where he met Roberto Mancini, Head Coach, and players from the first team and former player Mario Balotelli (pictured). Michael was able to talk about living with type 1 diabetes and about JDRF, the work we do and how he is a type 1 ambassador for the charity. He then flew to Paris, France to meet with coaches at Paris St-Germain (PSG) where this would be his last trial before returning to Canada. 

Michael and his parents have experienced a variety of world class soccer clubs and are now left with a decision to where the best environment would be for Michael to grow and develop in football.

Raising awareness of type 1 and JDRF

In August of 2012, Michael was the captain of the Canadian diabetic team, participating in the Medtronic Junior World Cup Soccer Tournament in Switzerland. Michael was lucky enough to meet the Canadian Prime Minister, in Ottawa, in November of 2012 where he raised awareness of JDRF.

He has been heavily involved with public affairs activity in Canada and has shared his type 1 stories with a number of MPs. While he travels the world showcasing his football abilities, Michael is commited to proving that children with type 1 diabetes can compete at the same level as those that don’t have the condition.

Michael said:

'My goal is to play professional football and every success I achieve will be not only for myself but for all individuals living with type 1 diabetes worldwide.'

Read Michael's story in full and watch a video of his trial with A.S.Roma »

Michael showcases his skills to Roberto Mancini


Great British team shine again at Medtronic Junior Cup

On the 26 to 28 August the fifth edition of the Medtronic Junior Cup took place at the Stade du Bout du Monde in Geneva, Switzerland. 250 children with type 1 took part in the tournament, representing 15 countries for a weekend of football fun. Ten children aged between 10 and14 were on the Junior Team for Great Britain. 

Day one of the tournament saw GB team easily defeat the Italians in their first game. After this their confidence soared and there was no stopping them. They went on to win every one of their games on day one placing them a strong first on the leaderboard. 

The second day of the tournament continued in much the same vein with a high standard of playing exhibited by the GB team. The competition most definitely got tougher for the young footballers but goals scored throughout the tournament saw team GB triumphantly through to the final with The Netherlands. After an early goal by the giant Netherlands team followed in quick succession by several more, the final whistle blew and the team of young footballers had to settle for runners up position.

However disappointment didn’t last too long and once they had collected their players medals and a shiny trophy at the award ceremony, team GB flew home to the UK tired but extremely excited and full of tales of an amazing weekend which according to them all and their parents they will always remember.


$1.9 billion potential healthcare saving for USA with artificial pancreas

A study carried out on behalf of JDRF in the US has revealed the potential savings that could be made to the Medicare programme (which provides health insurance to those over 65 years old or who have disabilities) because of the artificial pancreas. These savings are estimated to total $1.9 billion over 25 years.
The JDRF Artificial Pancreas project aims to link an insulin pump with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to provide automatic, real-time monitoring of blood glucose and delivery of insulin. Early studies of a prototype artificial pancreas have already shown clinical improvements in blood glucose control.

The research team, led by Dr Michael J. O’Grady, modelled 25 years of medical costs for people between 30 and 60 years old. Their analysis revealed the accumulated cost savings resulting from avoiding complications in this group.

Poorly controlled blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetes can cause complications later in life, such as diabetic eye disease and cardiovascular disease. A new technology that can significantly slow or stop the progression of these has the potential to deliver substantial health and financial benefits. 


William Chanter attends US Children’s Congress to make a noise about type 1 diabetes

Fourteen year old William Chanter is one of seven children from around the world who will be at JDRF’s Children’s Congress 2011 in Washington, D.C. today. T1 Youth Ambassador William, will join 150 delegates from all over the United States to convey a clear message to the U.S. government that type 1 diabetes is a global problem requiring a united effort to find better treatments and the cure for the condition.

Joining William in Washington, D.C. will be other children from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Israel, the Netherlands and Mexico.

William was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was six years old. For William and his family, managing type 1 diabetes is a daily struggle to maintain a health level of blood glucose through frequent blood sugar checks and regular administration of insulin.

William’s dad, Trevor Chanter said, “William copes extremely well with this invisible condition. People see a happy, healthy looking teenager and are unaware of the effort and vigilance needed to keep healthy such as the 12500+ insulin injections he has had since diagnosis. He is a superb T1 ambassador and is eager to spread awareness of T1 and meet the US delegates in Washington DC.”

Led by International Chairman Mary Tyler Moore, JDRF’s Children’s Congress 2011 will include Congressional visits by the child delegates and a Congressional hearing where Ms. Moore, children with type 1, researchers, and business and community leaders will explain the need for continued support of funding in the U.S. for research into type 1, under the theme of “Promise to Remember Me.”

You can read more about JDRF’s public affairs work here