New Jersey’s Foundation for Diabetes Research: A Force Within the Community

February 2015 — When their kids are in danger, parents have a keen ability to morph into superheroes, mirroring the power of the Justice League when they band together. Fiction aside, the parents, families, and individuals involved in the Foundation for Diabetes Research (FDR) have joined forces to battle a menacing threat – type 1 diabetes. Method of attack: Granting research dollars to projects focused on finding a cure for their children and millions more.

The FDR was founded in 1999 by approximately 90 New Jersey families, looking to cure their children with diabetes. Since then, their numbers have grown substantially, as well as their ability to raise funds in their local area. They host two major events during the year: the Annual Golf Classic, which raised $76,000 in 2014, and the Harvest for Hope Fashion Show, which garnered more than $111,000 last year – all to fund new and promising grants for diabetes research. More recently, they’ve added a roller skating event, which allows the younger family members to join in the fundraising, plus the SHARE (Support Heal And Relate Experiences) support group, which addresses the need for members to share feelings, solutions, and concerns.

“We’re a tight-knit group, and we’re acutely focused on one goal – finding a cure,” said Michael Wallock, who is on the FDR’s board of trustees and has served in several leadership positions within the foundation. Michael has an adult daughter with T1D and is firmly entrenched in the cause. “The Diabetes Research Institute has been on our radar since the beginning, and I believe it is one of the world’s leading diabetes research centers.”

The official mission of the FDR is “to support research aimed at a cure for diabetes and prevention of its severe complications.” It grants funds to selected research programs by a peer review process. The FDR’s first grant funded a fast track laboratory at the DRI, and to date, the organization has funded upward of $1 million in support of multiple studies conducted at the DRI.

According to Gary Kleiman, senior director of medical development at the DRI, “Thanks to the current grant support from the Foundation for Diabetes Research, we have been able to address the need for alternative sources for insulin-producing cells. It has allowed us to advance innovative strategies to develop a reliable cell supply, which is one of the critical areas our investigators are concentrating on.”

As the DRI continues to build on this extraordinary progress, the Foundation for Diabetes Research will continue to fight the injustice of diabetes with everything they’ve got.

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