JDRF CEO: “Research Is Not Enough”

This week, JDRF CEO Aaron Kowalski sent out a fundraising email to supporters in observance of National Diabetes Awareness Month. Here are the highlights:

  • JDRF’s original, singular mission was to deliver a cure. The email opens with the quote that goes back to the purpose of the organization at its founding 50 years ago, “Through research, the disease will be cured.”
  • In the email, Kowalski argues that funding cure research grants should no longer be the JDRF’s primary focus. The email states: “Our mission - creating a world without T1D” - means research is not enough…to help people now and in the future, this research must be translated into therapies and devices that gain regulatory approval and are affordable and accessible.” Since 2008, JDRF has cut its annual research grant expenditure in half.
  • JDRF takes direct credit for driving additional dollars to T1D (without accountability). The article claims that JDRF has “spurred” $2.9 Billion of US government funding and “catalyzed” more than $250 Million in venture capital investments. Yet, these numbers cannot be objectively assessed against the cost of JDRF’s decreasing research budget.
  • JDRF says it prioritizes “cures” and “life-changing advances”, but without specific goals. The article states that “we are prioritizing opportunities with the greatest potential to lead us to cures and life-changing advances in the shortest amount of time.” It goes on to share examples of beta-cell replacement, disease-modifying therapies, and T1D screening – all important initiatives. But it noticeably does not provide a goal for these research pathways, nor a strategic roadmap forward.

The email ends with Aron Kowalski sharing that his personal goal is to be known as the “cures guy.”  We couldn’t be more supportive of those words and offer a suggestion during this Diabetes Month:  Walk the talk by funding cure research – the number one priority of T1D donors. 
Click this link to read Kowalski’s full comments.