Miami, FL (September 11, 2006) — The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation announced today that it will increase its pledge to the University of Miami’s Momentum campaign by $15 million, bringing its total commitment to $80 million. The funds contributed directly support the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI), a Center of Excellence at UM’s Miller School of Medicine. The DRI Foundation, created in 1971, is the fundraising arm of the Diabetes Research Institute and has contributed more than $120 million to the University.
“When the Momentum campaign launched, we never dreamed that we would be able to make such a commitment,” stated Robert A. Pearlman, president and CEO of the diabetes foundation. “After Dean Goldschmidt announced his vision for the medical school, it gave us tremendous confidence, and we wanted to show him our support. This latest pledge makes the DRIF the largest contributor to the University of Miami.” At the start of the Momentum campaign, the DRI Foundation initially pledged $50 million, and later increased that amount to $65 million. It now reaches $80 million with the latest gift.
Miller School of Medicine Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D. stated, “The contribution of this diabetes research foundation has been extraordinary. This partnership is a perfect synergy.”
The relationship between the diabetes foundation and the University has been strengthening over the last 30 years, and it has helped to propel the Diabetes Research Institute into the world-renowned facility it is today.
“Finding the cure for diabetes is the overriding mission of the DRI, which is a recognized world leader in cure-focused research,” said UM President Donna Shalala. “This would not have been possible without the support of the Foundation.”
According to DRI Scientific Director Camillo Ricordi, M.D., the diabetes research foundation’s increased support will help to fund a number of scientific initiatives, including the new Diabetes Research Institute Federation (DRI Federation). This unique international research federation unites the leading scientists from selected diabetes research institutions to launch an unprecedented assault on type 1 diabetes. Comprised of eight research facilities spanning seven countries, all DRI Federation members are connected by the latest in video conferencing technology.
The mission of the DRI Federation is to catalyze new ideas by grouping together researchers with specific expertise that may not be represented at each of the individual centers. The collaboration will synergize scientific planning and research design that will maximize efficiencies of cost, time and information transfer.
The DRI Federation will concentrate solely on curing diabetes through tolerance induction, stem cell therapies, regenerative medicine strategies, and transplantation of islets and other insulin producing cells.
People living with type 1 diabetes have benefited from important advances in diabetes research, including islet cell transplantation. With this procedure, islets, or insulin-producing cells, are isolated from the organ and infused into the patient.
Patricia Claar, who was diagnosed with diabetes at age 12 and recently received an islet cell transplant at the DRI, stated, “I feel better now than I have in my entire life. I thank the DRI, the Foundation, and its supporters for making this experience a reality.”
Another DRI transplant recipient Karla Edge said, “I had severe reactions for 30 years, and I would like to thank the DRI for answering my prayers.”
About the Diabetes Research Institute and Foundation
The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation is a not-for-profit diabetes organization whose mission is to provide the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami with the funding necessary to cure diabetes through islet transplantation and other cell-based therapies. The Diabetes Research Institute is a recognized world leader in cure-focused research. Pioneering many of the techniques used in islet cell transplantation since the early 1970’s, the DRI has successfully reversed diabetes in patients involved in ongoing clinical trials. DRI research is now directed at improving transplant processes and developing new biomedical technologies and cell-based therapies to restore insulin production. For the millions of families already affected by diabetes, the Diabetes Research Institute is the best hope for a cure.