Message from Dr. Norman Rosenblum on World Diabetes Day

As Canada marks World Diabetes Day on November 14, we can take time to reflect on the impact of scientific discoveries on the lives of Canadians living with diabetes and recognize Canada's international leadership in diabetes research. Canadian researchers continue to make tremendous progress towards diabetes prevention and treatment, building on the discovery of insulin which occurred 100 years ago in Canada.

An urgent need

Within Canada, almost one in 10 people, equating to over three million individuals, live with diabetes and 6% of adults are at a high risk of developing diabetes. The incidence of diabetes is increasing, which creates an urgent need to find more effective ways to prevent and treat diabetes to decrease the burden of disease on individuals, families, communities and health care systems.

100 Years of Insulin: Accelerating Canadian Discoveries to Defeat Diabetes

CIHR is the largest funder of diabetes research in Canada, and the CIHR Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes (CIHR-INMD), for which I serve as Scientific Director, continues to champion diabetes research. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, a new research initiative 100 Years of Insulin: Accelerating Canadian Discoveries to Defeat Diabetes was launched under the leadership of CIHR-INMD, as well as the Institutes of Genetics (IG), Indigenous Peoples' Health (IIPH), and Infection and Immunity (III), in collaboration with many other CIHR institutes and with national and international partners. This initiative provides research funding for Canadian scientists to participate in new research teams to accelerate diabetes research.

As part of this 100 Years of Insulin initiative, a new partnership between CIHR and UK research funders was developed to fund six world-leading collaborative UK-Canada Diabetes Research Teams. We also announced the results of two other competitions with this initiative: a new research consortium that will enable leading researchers in Canada and the Netherlands to tackle type 2 diabetes - Netherlands-Canada Type 2 Diabetes Research Consortium Team Grant, and new funding for research teams to accelerate stem cell-based therapies for the treatment of type 1 diabetes in collaboration with JDRF Canada - CIHR-JDRF – Accelerating Stem Cell-Based Therapies for Type 1 Diabetes Team Grant. In addition, CIHR will soon announce the results of Team Grants: Diabetes Mechanisms and Translational Solutions.

The 100 Years of Insulin initiative is also supporting Indigenous-led and community-driven research that aims to reverse the increase in diabetes and associated complications among First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. We have launched new funding for Team Grants in Diabetes Prevention and Treatment in Indigenous Communities: Resilience and Wellness.

Earlier this year, CIHR-INMD and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) co-hosted a joint virtual symposium entitled Heterogeneity of Diabetes: Beta Cells, Phenotypes and Precision Medicine. The full symposium video recording is now available and provides insights into the future of diabetes research.

I would invite you to read about current Canadian diabetes research efforts and the areas where leading Canadian researchers see opportunities to drive innovation to help improve health outcomes for people living with diabetes. You can also read the Faces of Health Research profiles featuring recently funded researchers through the 100 Years of Insulin initiative.

I am extremely grateful to individuals living with diabetes who participate in studies and for the support of colleagues at CIHR who have contributed to the development and implementation of these exciting research initiatives. I am also appreciative  of our partner organizations, such as Diabetes Canada, Fonds de recherche du Québec–Santé (FRQS), JDRF Canada, Kidney Foundation of Canada and Mitacs, and our international partners.

The increasing prevalence of diabetes in Canada and the negative effects of COVID-19 on people with diabetes have underscored the importance of continuing to invest in diabetes research, treatment, and prevention, and ultimately, a cure for diabetes.

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

Associated Links

100 years of insulin

Funding opportunities


Health Research in Action

Faces of Health Research

Funding decisions

Additional resources

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