Grand Challenge in the community

June 18, 2024
A photo of Liam (left) and his son (Jack) standing behind a podium with a laptop on it. Liam points at Jack and both are smiling.

In May, we were out and about at type 1 diabetes community events. First, the virtual peer support platform DiabetesChat held a Grand Challenge special, then members of the Steve Morgan Foundation led a session at the annual Talking About Diabetes event.

DiabetesChat Grand Challenge special

DiabetesChat’s fifth research event was all about the Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge. Liam Eaglestone, CEO of the Steve Morgan Foundation (SMF), kicked off with a short presentation about SMF and their £50 million investment in type 1 diabetes research. He explained how the Grand Challenge is disrupting the research landscape and accelerating us towards treatments and cures for type 1.

A screenshot of the people involved in the Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge research event on DiabetesChat. Eight squares each feature a still of a person within a blue frame with the DiabetesChat logo in the top left corner.

Panel Discussion

DiabetesChat co-host Mary Murphy chaired a panel discussion between the three Senior Research Fellows, Professor Sarah Richardson, Dr James Cantley and Dr Victoria Salem. Mary asked the researchers questions about the Grand Challenge, including how the partnership is supporting research into future therapies and cures for type 1.

Dr Salem said: “The Grand Challenge has given us the freedom to think disruptively and bring in new ideas from other fields.”

Dr Cantley answered: “This type of research is mission driven, allowing us to take risks to move the field forward, improving lives and finding cures.”

Professor Richardson said: “We are supporting the next generation of researchers and establishing the research infrastructure here in the UK. With fresh brains in the mix, the future is bright!”

Research presentations

Each researcher spoke about their research and the audience were able to ask questions. Dr Cantley explained how he is developing new treatments for type 1, Professor Richardson took us through her research into type 1 immunology, and Dr Salem described how she is creating a protective device for lab-grown beta cells.

Watch the recording of the Grand Challenge DiabetesChat.

Response from the community

Over five hundred people tuned in to the event live, with almost 2,000 watching the recording. One audience member said: “Sarah’s slides with the artwork has made me understand my T1D after almost 60 years of diagnosis. Next life, I want to be a researcher!” Another said: “Amazing insight and I’ve gained a lot of knowledge tonight about my T1D and what the future might hold.”

Tom Dean, who hosts DiabetesChat said: “It was a fabulous, interesting and informative evening and the feedback we have received from the community has been very positive. It has given people hope and great anticipation for a healthier future for us all.”

SMF at Talking About Diabetes

The Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge had a big presence at this year’s Talking About Diabetes (TAD) event in Liverpool, with members of Diabetes UK, JDRF UK and SMF all in attendance, both on and off the stage.

A photo of Liam (left) and his son (Jack) standing behind a podium with a laptop on it. Liam points at Jack and both are smiling.

Photo of Liam (left) and Jack (right), courtesy of Marc Lungley.

Liam and Jack Eaglestone

Liam and his son Jack were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just one year apart. The pair gave a joint talk at this year’s TAD event where they praised the advances in technology and those championing access to it. Both Liam and Jack use hybrid closed loop systems to manage their type 1. They shared how the system has helped stabilise their blood glucose levels, reduce diabetes burnout and improve their sleep.

Jack said: “I used to have to take around one day a week off school because my blood glucose levels were so unstable. I would have repeated hypos which made me fall unconscious, high ketones and vomiting. Then, hybrid closed loop made that all disappear. It was like a miracle.”

Liam added: “Technology is great – but it is not a cure. The Grand Challenge is seeking that cure, by bringing together some of the best and brightest brains in the type 1 research community.”

A message from Steve and Sally Morgan

Steve and Sally Morgan couldn’t be at TAD in person, so they shared a video sharing their personal connection to type 1 through Sally’s son, Hugo, which led to the SMF’s transformational £50 million investment in type 1 diabetes research.

Watch the video from the Morgans below.

You may also be interested in

Dr James Cantley’s research
Dr James Cantley
Dr James Cantley’s research

Learn about Dr Cantley’s Grand Challenge research project at the University of Dundee.

Prof Sarah Richardson’s research
Professor Sarah Richardson sat at her lab computer
Prof Sarah Richardson’s research

Learn about Professor Richardson’s Grand Challenge research project at the University of Exeter.

Dr Vicky Salem’s research
Dr Vicky Salem in lab
Dr Vicky Salem’s research

Learn about Dr Salem’s Grand Challenge research project at the Imperial College London.