How Does JDRF Decide What Research To Fund?

On Sunday, April 16, Joshua Levy wrote an article on his blog that outlines the process used by JDRF to decide what research to fund and what research not to fund. There is no task more important or mission central to JDRF than funding research. The blog provides a solid overview, revealing both strengths and areas for improvement. The full blog can be found here:


Levy sourced the information for the post directly from Dr. Aaron Kowalski, the Chief Mission Officer of JDRF. Kowalski seems to have candidly and openly shared his perspective on the people involved, the allocation of funds (priority, strategy, and budget), and the research approval process. The JDCA is encouraged by Kowalski's willingness to address this topic and hopes the same level of transparency is upheld as the standard going forward. Since the abolishment of their lay review committee more than a decade ago, JDRF has been tight-lipped about how research decisions are made.

We note three important takeaways from this article:

  1. Although there are only a small number of people who make the spending decisions, there are checks and balances in place, which is a positive.
  2. It does not appear that the voice of the donor is incorporated into the decision making process. The relatively small group that makes the spending decisions are all JDRF insiders. This is an area of concern.
  3. There is no discussion in the article about what hard metrics and guidelines are used when making grant spending decisions or determining whether the grants are performing. This raises a concern that research decisions are based on personal judgments and opinions, as opposed to measurement-driven objectives.