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We’re supporting future Black leaders in diabetes research

research scientist

We’re launching two new pioneering funding schemes to address the low representation and support for diabetes researchers from Black backgrounds in the UK.

We're thrilled to announce the launch of a pilot Summer Internship and a PhD Studentship, tailored specifically for aspiring Black researchers in diabetes for the first time.  

We identified that Black researchers are under-represented in the UK diabetes scientific community. With our new funding initiatives, we want to address this and do our part to foster diversity.  

The funding will provide a platform for students of Black backgrounds to pursue research opportunities, and for established diabetes scientists to nurture the next generation of Black research leaders.  

And we’re now calling on students and mentors to apply.  

Tackling inequalities in diabetes research 

The schemes follow the work of our Diabetes Research Steering Groups (DRSGs). Last year, they brought together researchers, healthcare professionals and people living with diabetes to identify ways to address health inequalities in diabetes through research.  

People from Black African and African Caribbean backgrounds in the UK have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to White people. And those living with diabetes can experience unfair differences in care and treatment, affecting their diabetes management and risk of complications.  

We’re funding research to better understand and address the multiple causes of these inequalities. But we also recognise that research itself can reinforce health disparities, in part because Black people have been under-represented in research for many years.  

To help tackle this, our DRSGs emphasised the need to ensure that the research community is representative of the population of people living with diabetes – leading us to develop a positive action initiative. 

Increasing representation can help to: 

  • Enable diabetes scientists’ ideas and motivations reflect the diversity of people living with or at risk of diabetes. 
  • Encourage involvement from Black people affected by diabetes in research, bringing in previously unheard voices and making research more relevant to their perspectives and needs.  
  • Build role models to inspire future generations from under-represented backgrounds to work in diabetes research

Dr Oladapo Edward Olaniru from King’s College London and Origin Sciences Ltd, who’s studying insulin-making cells said:  

“I love my work and am extremely passionate about helping support Black people go into careers in science, medicine and research. When I started teaching, a young boy came up to me and said he’d never been taught by a Black person. He was very happy that somebody who looked like him was teaching him.” 

Next wave of Black leaders 

Our Black Leaders in Diabetes schemes aim to give Black students the guidance and resources they need to embark on a thriving research career. If you are from a Black background and are passionate about science, find out more and apply. 

The paid summer Internship will give you the opportunity to spend six weeks in a diabetes research lab, to get a flavour of doing research and test innovative ideas.  

The PhD Studentship will support you to begin with your academic career and carry out a three-year research project.  

If you’re a supervisor interested in mentoring students at the early stage of their research career, we also want you to apply to our schemes via the above links.  

We're privileged to be working in partnership with Windsor Fellowship, a national race equality educational charity. They'll support recruitment, match-making students with mentors, and mock interview training for shortlisted applicants across both schemes. Successful PhD students will also have access to a mentorship programme delivered by Windsor Fellowship. 

Dr Steven Parks, Diabetes Research Steering Groups Manager at Diabetes UK, said:  

“We're determined to address the under-representation of Black researchers in the diabetes community, because Black people are two to three times more likely to have type 2 diabetes, are more likely to have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes and experience health inequalities. 

“It is important to hear the perspectives of Black people and be able to answer questions that historically haven't been answered, the questions they want answered. By having researchers that look like you, you're more likely to engage with them and help shape future diabetes research. 

“We’re really bringing researchers together with students in this scheme. I think it is a great opportunity to embed Black researchers in diabetes, to encourage and support students to be part of a cohort of people who are aiming to lead in diabetes research.” 

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