The Future and Legacy of Diabetes Research

Over the course of the next few days researchers, health care professionals, advocacy groups, and pharmaceutical companies from around the world will converge in Boston to discuss diabetes research and care. This year host organization, the American Diabetes Association, marks the 75th anniversary of the Scientific Sessions; a major milestone that puts the progress made in diabetes care and treatment into perspective.


The history of diabetes care is a deeply important part of Lilly’s history -- as well as the history of collaboration in the discovery of new treatments. University of Toronto’s Frederick Banting is credited with the discovery of Insulin in 1922. Although their research yielded promising results, they were unable to produce it in the quantities needed, while retaining the quality required, to make a significant impact. Their plight caught the attention of Lilly scientists, who worked with Dr. Banting and his team to bring the first commercially available insulin to market.


This spirit of collaboration will remain present throughout the Scientific Sessions, as presentations address diabetes prevention, diagnosis and care, and crucially, the presentation of the results of clinical trials. While clinical trials may be top of mind for those of us in the Canadian health industry with the recent launch of the Canadian Clinical Trials Asset Map (CCTAM), the meeting in Boston presents an important opportunity for researchers to present new findings that could have a crucial impact.


Although we have had the core treatment to address diabetes for years, more work remains. The number of Canadians with diabetes has nearly doubled over the past decade, and the economic impact has skyrocketed with projections estimating that diabetes will cost our health care system nearly $16 billion by 2020. Although diabetes has been transformed into a manageable disease, we still need to invest time, and effort, into exploring new ways to help lessen, and potentially eliminate, it’s impact.


There are many reasons for hope, and meetings like the Scientific Sessions make that clear. Many discoveries have been uncovered over the past 75 years of these meetings, and we’ve seen so much progress since Dr. Banting’s discovery over 90 years ago, and now, we eagerly await what comes next.