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Our approach to diabetes research

Our approach to diabetes research - a scientist smiling whilst working in a lab

Our research strategy

Research is at the heart of our mission to reach a world where diabetes can do no harm. For 80 years, we've led the way in funding pioneering research that changes lives. But we're not stopping here. Looking ahead to 2025 we're setting out our bold new plans for research.

Read our research strategy

 

We co-created our strategy with people living with diabetes, scientists and healthcare professionals, by working with the Diabetes Research Steering Groups, to make sure it focuses on what matters most to them. These groups bring people together to pinpoint specific areas in diabetes where we don't yet know enough. They then plan how to change this by getting research off the ground to fill the gaps in our knowledge. 

Steering research, changing lives

Our strategy lays out research priorities that the Diabetes Research Steering Groups have told us urgently need addressing. 

We will keep the Diabetes Research Steering Group's priorities at the very forefront of our work and direct our funding towards those areas that will best help us achieve the change we want to see by 2025:

  1. More people with or at risk of type 1, type 2 and all other forms of diabetes will benefit from new treatments that cure or prevent the condition.
  2. More people will be in remission from type 2 diabetes. 
  3. More people will get the quality of care they need to manage their diabetes well.
  4. Fewer people will get type 2 and gestational diabetes.
  5. More people will live better and more confident lives with diabetes, free from discrimination.

Breakthroughs in all of these outcomes are within touching distance. And with our research strategy driving us to be even more effective, more innovative and more focused on what matters most to people living with diabetes, we can make our ambitions a reality. 
 

Lis Warren - a member of our Diabetes Research Steering Group
Lis Warren lives with diabetes and as a Diabetes Research Steering Group member helped us develop our strategy.

“Those of us living with this condition know best how our lives are impacted and what research might make the greatest difference. With Diabetes UK's strategy addressing what I believe are the most important priorities, I am thrilled and grateful to have played a part in pushing for change in areas that will affect the quality of millions of lives.”

- Lis Warren

Professor Martin Rutter is a member of our Diabetes Research Steering Group
Professor Martin Rutter is a diabetes researcher and part of the Diabetes Research Steering Groups.

“With this strategy and focus bringing key people and funding together we'll help provide rapid answers to the burning questions that matter to people with diabetes.”

- Professor Martin Rutter

How we'll make a difference 

To help us have more impact and get the diabetes research landscape in the best shape it can be, we’re making five commitments.

We will:

  • Bring new and different thinking into diabetes research. We’ll support innovative thinking and help kick-start new areas of exploration to move even faster towards ending the harm diabetes does.
  • Bring people living with and working in diabetes together to make change happen. We’ll make sure we listen to a diverse range of people and put their views at the heart of our research.
  • Make sure that research benefits people with diabetes sooner. We’ll ensure that research supports rapid translation into new treatments, technologies and improvements to care.
  • Nurture rising stars and encourage the best minds into diabetes research. We’ll do even more to support researchers already working in diabetes to develop their careers, transition to independence and make diabetes research their life’s work.
  • Leverage the power of partnership. Acting as a hub and a facilitator, we will unite experts and organisations to drive change, build on existing partnership models and keep pushing for more investment into diabetes research.

Working together

We will not stop pushing for more investment in diabetes research and supporting the very best scientists and ideas. But we know that by working together with the wider research community we can deliver even more. 

That’s why this strategy is also a call to arms. We want researchers and funders to help take its priorities forward and join us in making sure the most vital diabetes research happens faster.

Bekki Miller is a member of our Diabetes Research Steering Group
Bekki Miller lives with type 1 diabetes and is a member of the Diabetes Research Steering Groups.

“Over the next five years it will be amazing to see more funding become available to research that has come off the back of the priorities of people with diabetes, and know that our voices have been heard and listened too.”

- Bekki Miller

Crucially, none of this will be possible without you. We can only fund research thanks to your generous support. If you’d like to help us support more scientists, find better treatments and move closer to a cure please make a donation today.

Never more needed

Our approach to research - researchers in the lab wearing masks

We’re launching this strategy at a time of enormous change and challenge for so many, including the research community. The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted scientists’ work and punched a huge hole in charitable medical research funding. The next five years are critical. Without the right action, the consequences for the future research landscape and a generation of scientists could be profound.

“The seriousness of diabetes - and the need to strive even harder to protect people with or at risk of diabetes - has been brought into sharp focus by the coronavirus pandemic. Now more than ever we need bold, ambitious plans to steer diabetes research through these challenging times and succeed in creating a world where diabetes can do no harm.”

- Dr Elizabeth Robertson, our Director of Research

How we fund research

We fund research in three ways:

  • We award money to support new ideas proposed by UK researchers.
  • We fund personal awards to help talented scientists and healthcare professionals become the diabetes research leaders of the future.
  • We make targeted investments to support research in specific areas where there are important gaps or opportunities.

In each case, our rigorous approach ensures that the research we fund is of the highest scientific quality and has the greatest potential to benefit people living with or at risk of diabetes.

How does it work?

We offer support to scientists and healthcare professionals working at universities and hospitals throughout the UK. Our funding pays for salaries as well as the equipment and materials needed to carry out diabetes research.

Researchers apply for our funding and we ask independent experts around the world for their feedback on each application we receive. The experts consider the feasibility, cost-effectiveness and likely success of each proposal.

Our approach to diabetes research - a researcher in the lab working on a project we have funded

We then ask our Grants Advisory Panel, made up of people living with, at risk of, or caring for someone with diabetes, to review all the applications. They decide which projects are the highest priority for them and would make the biggest difference to people with the condition.

Twice a year our Research Committee of diabetes experts meets to discuss each application and decide which projects should be awarded funding. They draw on scientists’ reviews, the priorities assigned by our Grants Advisory Panel and the applications themselves to reach their decisions. We use the committees’ scores to fund as many high-quality research projects as possible within our budget.

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