American Diabetes Association Awards $9.75 million to Six Leading Researchers for the 2018 Pathway to Stop Diabetes® Research Grants

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Michelle Kirkwood
press@diabetes.org
703-299-2053

Arlington, Virginia
February 5, 2018

Today, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) announced awarding $9.75 million to six recipients of the 2018 Pathway to Stop Diabetes (Pathway) research grants, providing $1.625 million to each scientist over a five- to seven-year grant term to spur breakthroughs in fundamental diabetes science, technology, diabetes care and potential cures. Pathway grants are awarded in three categories: 1) Pathway Initiator, for postdoctoral fellows who are transitioning from training to their first faculty positions; 2) Pathway Accelerator, for diabetes researchers early in their independent careers; and 3) Pathway Visionary, for scientists established in another field who are interested in applying their expertise to diabetes research for the first time. 

“Pathway to Stop Diabetes provides a combination of funding and expert mentoring that equips exceptional scientists with the tools they need to combat the diabetes epidemic with innovative research that improves patient outcomes and brings us closer to a cure,” said Silvia Corvera, MD, chair of the ADA’s Mentor Advisory Group and professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts. “We are thrilled to welcome the six newest recipients of Pathway awards into this elite group of researchers who continue to make extraordinary contributions to diabetes care. This unique funding model creates unmatched opportunities for scientists to impact the lives of millions of people living with or at risk for diabetes.” 

Now in its fifth year, the program is supporting six new grant recipients starting their projects in 2018:

  • John N. Campbell, PhD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston, received a Pathway Initiator Award for his basic research project titled, “Molecular and Functional Taxonomy of Vagal Motor Neurons.”
  • Maureen Monaghan, PhD, Children’s Research Institute, Children’s National Health System, in Washington, DC, received a Pathway Accelerator Award for her behavioral science project titled, “Improving Health Communication During the Transition from Pediatric to Adult Diabetes Care.”
  • Alexander R. Nectow, PhD, Princeton University, in Princeton, New Jersey, received a Pathway Accelerator Award for his basic research project titled, “Investigation of Brainstem Neurons Regulating Energy Balance.” 
  • Michael L. Stitzel, PhD, The Jackson Laboratory, in Farmington, Conn., received a Pathway Accelerator Award for his basic research project titled, “Deciphering Longitudinal Cell Type-Specific Defects in Diabetes Pathogenesis.” 
  • Samie R. Jaffrey, MD, PhD, Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, received a Pathway Visionary Award for his basic research project titled, “Rewiring Cellular Metabolic Networks in Diabetes.” 
  • Jonathan V. Sweedler, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, received a Pathway Visionary Award for his basic research project titled, “Unraveling Diabetes Progression a Cell at a Time.” 

Pathway launched in 2013 and has awarded more than $47 million to 29 leading scientists to pursue transformative diabetes-related research. Each awardee is selected from a highly competitive applicant pool of only one nominee per institution; approximately 100 applications are received each year. Their list of accomplishments to-date is notable:

  • Six Pathway Initiator awardees secured their first independent faculty positions;
  • Seven patents have been filed by Pathway scientists to protect the intellectual property they have uncovered; and
  • More than 60 manuscripts published in peer-reviewed journals by Pathway awardees.

Notable scientific contributions by Pathway awardees include efforts to develop a disposable continuous glucose monitoring patch, identification of links between sense of smell and body weight, and advancements to optimize a novel drug delivery approach to enhance wound healing—and reduce amputations—in diabetes.

“Our Pathway to Stop Diabetes program supports visionary scientists conducting groundbreaking research. These objectives are at the heart of ADA’s core mission—to improve the lives of all people living with and affected by diabetes,” said the ADA’s Chief Scientific, Medical and Mission Officer William T. Cefalu, MD. “The results from this program and the new knowledge gained in the few short years this program has been in existence are phenomenal. With the incredible support from our sponsors, and through collaboration, we are able to provide a critical combination of expert counsel and financial support to scientists on the complex journey of discovery necessary to advance diabetes treatment and find a cure.”

The Pathway program has received more than $47 million in contributions from corporate sponsors Sanofi, Novo Nordisk, The Lilly Foundation, Eli Lilly and Company, Merck and AstraZeneca, along with generous philanthropic support from individuals and foundations. The funds allow the Pathway grant program to extend support to individuals who are just starting their independent research careers, as well as to exceptional scientists already established in other fields of research who want to apply their expertise to diabetes.

“Scientific innovation and the patient experience have always been at the heart of our company,” said Todd Hobbs, MD, chief medical officer, Novo Nordisk Inc. “We value the importance of sponsoring the novel research advancements made possible through the Pathway to Stop Diabetes program, and are pleased to continue to support scientists that aspire to improve the lives of people with diabetes.”

“Sanofi has long been committed to helping people living with diabetes and we are proud to continue our support of the Pathway to Stop Diabetes program,” said Holly Schachner, MD, Medical Affairs Head for North America, Diabetes/Cardiovascular (DCV) Business Unit and US Medical Chair, Sanofi. “By funding diabetes research and allowing the grant recipient to focus on the science, this type of program can play a vital role in supporting researchers, progressing our understanding of diabetes and potentially aid in the discovery of new therapeutic options. We congratulate this year’s award recipients and we look forward to supporting future innovative solutions.” 

Pathway grant recipients are selected by the ADA’s Mentor Advisory Group—eminent scientists from diabetes and other fields who review the core elements of exceptional science in picking an applicant: rigorous thought processes, keen intellect, and capacity for innovation, creativity and productivity. The advisors also provide the Pathway grant recipients with mentorship and scientific and professional guidance during their grant’s term. In addition to the substantial and flexible financial support and mentorship, Pathway provides grant recipients with networks for communication and collaboration, special symposia and speaking engagements, and unique collaborative opportunities that will accelerate the advancement and translation of their science, and lead to breakthrough discoveries.

“Approximately 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and millions more are at risk. Research into new treatments can help people avoid the complications that so often accompany diabetes,” said Dara Schuster, MD, senior director of U.S. Medical Affairs, Lilly Diabetes. “The Pathway Research Grant program may lead to important and innovative research that can help people living with diabetes. Lilly Diabetes is pleased to support the efforts of these talented scientists." 

The ADA is now accepting nominations for the 2019 class of Pathway awardees. The Pathway program seeks to bring new investigators and new perspectives to diabetes research. Supporting scientists with different backgrounds and experience is critical to achieving that objective. Pathway accepts nominations for exceptional investigators with medical and scientific backgrounds who propose innovative basic, clinical, translational, behavioral, epidemiological and health services research relevant to any type of diabetes, diabetes-related disease state or complication. Pathway solicits nominations for candidates in all disciplines as applied to diabetes, from medicine, biology and chemistry to engineering, mathematics and physics. In addition, nomination of scientists from diverse backgrounds, including minority groups that are underrepresented in biomedical research, is strongly encouraged. Applicants must be nominated by a U.S. accredited academic and non-profit research institution prior to submitting an application. Institutions may nominate a maximum of one investigator per grant cycle. For more information on the nomination process, visit diabetes.org/pathway.

"Even as diabetes research advances, we know that much remains to be done to combat the disease in every community, in every region of the world. Merck is proud to celebrate innovation as we continue to support the Pathway award scientists," said Sam Engel, MD, associate vice president, Merck clinical research, diabetes and endocrinology.

For more information about the Pathway to Stop Diabetes grant program, visit diabetes.org/pathway. 

About the American Diabetes Association

Nearly half of American adults have diabetes or prediabetes; more than 30 million adults and children have diabetes; and every 21 seconds, another individual is diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization whose mission is to prevent and cure diabetes, and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. The ADA drives discovery by funding research to treat, manage and prevent all types of diabetes, as well as to search for cures; raises voice to the urgency of the diabetes epidemic; and works to safeguard policies and programs that protect people with diabetes. In addition, the ADA supports people living with diabetes, those at risk of developing diabetes, and the health care professionals who serve them through information and programs that can improve health outcomes and quality of life. For more information, please call the ADA at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit diabetes.org. Information from both of these sources is available in English and Spanish. Find us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn)