100 Years of Insulin: Accelerating Canadian Discoveries to Defeat Diabetes
Message from the CIHR Scientific Director Co-leads

In 2021, Canada will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, for which Drs. Banting and Macleod received a Nobel Prize- an illustrious moment for Canadians and one of the most dramatic examples of rapid translation of a discovery in basic science into a benefit for patients. Over the past century, our understanding of diabetes has increased considerably, as have the options for treatment. However, more work needs to be done. The global prevalence of diabetes is 8.8%,Footnote 1 and this rate is expected to increase world-wide largely as a result of the aging population and increasing obesity rates. While these factors are contributing substantially to the dramatic increases in type 2 diabetes, there is also evidence of increasing prevalence of type 1 diabetes.

On October 10 2018, CIHR’s Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes held a national workshop, 100 Years of Insulin: What’s Next? to seek input from the Canadian diabetes research community on scientific priorities in order to develop a transformative and impactful diabetes research initiative. Workshop participants identified a number of scientific priorities, research strengths and gaps, which were affirmed in further discussions with stakeholders including health charities and international partners. This new initiative, 100 Years of Insulin: Accelerating Canadian Discoveries to Defeat Diabetes, will target research gaps and complement current investments in diabetes, including the SPOR Diabetes Action Canada Network. The initiative will also harness Canadian research strengths and leverage opportunities with national and international partners.

Areas of investment address the need to understand the complex mechanisms that underlie diabetes and its complications, and to use these advancements and technology to develop improved treatments and more effective approaches to prevent diabetes. Recognizing the high burden of diabetes and its complications in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, this initiative has a dedicated component to support community-led research that focuses on resilience and wellness to address diabetes within these communities. This will complement other CIHR investments in this area, such as Pathways to Health for Aboriginal Peoples, Food Security and Climate Change in the Canadian North and Network Environments for Indigenous Health Research.

Of course, such transformational aims cannot be achieved without collaboration and partnerships. We, along with our collaborating CIHR Institutes of Aging, Circulatory and Respiratory Health, Gender and Health, Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis and Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction, would like to thank our partner organizations for their commitment and support of this initiative. As the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin approaches, this new research provides renewed hope for Canadians with diabetes, their families and caregivers.

Dr. Norman Rosenblum
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes

Dr. Charu Kaushic
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity

Dr. Carrie Bourassa
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health

Dr. Christopher McMaster
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Genetics

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