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Breaking boundaries through research - Annual Report 2015

We are the largest research funder in the UK dedicated to diabetes alone, and have been a pioneer into all forms of diabetes research for over 80 years.

In 2015 we launched our five year Research Strategy setting out our goals to improve care, prevent diabetes and its complications, and find a cure. These are big goals, but we are optimistic that together, we can make them a reality.

2015 was the first year of this strategy and we took some positive steps towards reaching our goals. We launched the first ever network of Clinical Studies Groups for diabetes, uniting leading researchers in key areas with people living with diabetes and healthcare professionals, to create a roadmap for new research. They will identify areas and key clinical studies needed to move care forward, and will see us working in partnership with JDRF and the British Society for Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes.

We awarded our first Harry Keen Intermediate Clinical Fellowship in honour of Professor Harry Keen.


Professor Keen was a champion of people with diabetes, reshaping 20th century understanding and revolutionising treatment of the condition. The fellowship offers outstanding medically and clinically qualified professionals the opportunity to establish themselves as independent diabetes researchers.

2015 Achievements

We developed two distinct streams in our small grant scheme: one for medically qualified scientists (led by the Academy of Medical Sciences), the other for basic scientists. These enable us to support early-career researchers with funding to help them go on to secure their first substantial grant from Diabetes UK or other funders.

We were awarded 'Best practice in medical and health research peer review' - the gold standard - after an audit by the Association for Medical Charities.

We awarded 33 new grants last year, all to scientists who are working towards transforming lives and creating a better future for people living with diabetes. 22 of those projects are potentially beneficial to people with Type 2 diabetes, and 20 for Type 1 diabetes. For example, Professor Lucy Walker at University College London is investigating a specific type of immune cell that might trigger Type 1 diabetes, in the hope of developing therapies to stop it.

Future plans

With the top 10 research priorities of people with Type 1 diabetes already identified, we are setting out to do the same for people with Type 2 diabetes. We will make sure the concerns and priorities of people with Type 2, their carers and healthcare professionals are heard - and acted upon - by diabetes researchers and UK research funders through the Priority Setting Partnership that we are leading in partnership with the James Lind Alliance.

We will continue to develop new Clinical Studies Groups. These groups will identify priority research areas and the key clinical studies needed to move forward our understanding of diabetes.

We're very excited to be supporting Dr Salem, one of the future stars of diabetes research, and in 2016 we will award our second Harry Keen Intermediate Clinical Fellowship, continuing our investment into the brightest and best diabetes clinical researchers of the future.

Meet Dr Salem

The very first Harry Keen fellowship was awarded to Dr Victoria Salem, at Imperial College, London. The five year fellowship was made possible by our National Charity Partnership with Tesco.



"I feel hugely privileged - I've got this responsibility to produce research that's really going to make a difference to people with diabetes - hopefully within my lifetime."


Read the rest of Dr Salem's story, and find out more about her pioneering research.

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