Jeffrey Brewer is the newest president of the JDRF — following several rapid turn-overs over the past five years since the departure of Peter Van Etten. This change in leadership coincides with a dramatic shift in JDRF’s policies on the programs and research it funds, focusing not only on the cure, but also on new technologies, like the Artificial Pancreas, and research on treating complications.
Jeffrey first announced this change in a groundbreaking interview with diaTribe in January, and followed up with talks with bloggers at JDRF’s Government Day and Roche’s Diabetes Social Media Summit. Some may say this is a welcomed and realistic shift, but to others, it may represent a disappointing deviation from JDRF’s core mission: to find a cure for diabetes. Today we’re thrilled to present a guest post from Jeffrey Brewer, who shares his goals, and the reasons behind them, for JDRF during his tenure.
A Guest Post by Jeffrey Brewer, CEO of JDRF
When I reflect on the past six months here at JDRF — just as we enter a new fiscal year — I see clear signs of growth and progress for the organization. JDRF is in the midst of an exciting and necessary transformation, standing on the shoulders of 40 years of progress. It is our unwavering commitment to people with type 1 diabetes that inspires this transformation, as we strategically lay the groundwork for an even stronger organization.
My own dedication to JDRF and to people with diabetes stems from my personal ties to this disease. In 2002, my son Sean was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of seven. I’m sure many of you can relate to the way a type 1 diagnosis shakes a family’s world on every level. I became involved with JDRF as a volunteer and donor for many years, because I saw the unmatched passion of its people and the unique ability the organization has to make a difference in the lives of people with type 1 diabetes.
I believe JDRF will lead us to a cure, and along the way, will help people live better and healthier lives at every age and at every stage of the disease. We are committed to transforming lives, and to do that, JDRF must transform as well. That’s where we are now, and I’m eager to share with you some of what that entails.
JDRF has identified three key elements of growth that we will strive toward: fighting diabetes on all levels — curing, treating, and preventing the disease; broadening our efforts to reach every person with type 1 diabetes — children and adults alike; and translating research into therapies that will reach people with the disease.
Curing, treating, and preventing type 1 diabetes
For more than 40 years, JDRF has been leading the fight to cure type 1 diabetes. The fight continues today. But now we are even stronger, armed with more knowledge and better tools. We also realize that it’s important to keep people living with type 1 diabetes healthier today as we work toward a cure — to keep them safe from devastating complications. At the same time, we want to explore ways to possibly prevent or delay the onset of type 1 diabetes in people who are genetically at-risk or on the way to developing the disease. With so many areas of research into this disease, it is important to keep in mind that they are all related. For example, the more we know about how to treat type 1, the more we will know about preventing and curing it. Most importantly, JDRF wants to fight type 1 diabetes for the people who must live with it every day — and we must be armed on all fronts.
Broadening our reach
A type 1 diagnosis can happen at any age, a toddler or a grown adult. In fact, of the 30,000 new cases of type 1 every year, half are children and teens, and half are adults. JDRF has long been known for its efforts on behalf of children — and that will not change — but we need to broaden our reach to the adults with type 1, who represent 85 percent of all those living with the disease. JDRF today has important resources available to help adults. That said, we need to do a better job of expanding those resources, and taking more efforts to spread word of our pool of support and information — from new adult type 1 toolkits we are creating to our type 1 online community Juvenation, for example. And speaking of the type 1 community, I am confident in and thankful for all of you who make up the vast and invaluable Diabetes Online Community, of which Juvenation is a part. The DOC keeps alive the spirit of strength, support, and resilience that is so important in this fight. It’s a spirit that all of us at JDRF are steadfast in maintaining together with you. The more people with type 1 diabetes who are on JDRF’s team, the stronger we will be for everyone with this disease. And that’s who we’re fighting for.
Translating research into therapies
Finally, we have to have a solid way of defining success in order to reach our goals. JDRF is defining success as the point at which advances reach patients. We will also help insurance companies understand why a therapy should be reimbursed and made available to patients, and help doctors understand which therapy will be best for each patient at their particular stage of type 1 diabetes. We will do everything in our power to turn research into tangible benefits for people with type 1.
Our transformation is only beginning, and we know it will take a lot of effort, cooperation, perseverance, and patience from everyone at JDRF and from the people for whom we work hard. My confidence in JDRF is firm and based on the unwavering passion I’ve seen in its people, the strong community it nurtures and leads, and its ability to transform lives. As a father of a child with type 1, and as CEO of JDRF, I’m excited about what lies ahead for this organization because it means better, healthier lives for people with type 1 diabetes. Thank you all for your continued support.
Thanks for all your hard work, Jeffrey! We happen to agree that a broader scope in JDRF’s work is the right thing for all of us.
Readers: What say you about the JDRF’s new direction?