DRWF – a quarter of a century of diabetes research
Picture: Dr Shivani Misra holding her DRWF research award.
Our funded researchers have also won prestigious awards for their work. Dr Shivani Misra, the recipient of a DRWF 3-year Clinical Fellowship in 2012, won the 2017 IDF Europe Prize for young researcher for her MY DIABETES study.
The study focused on classifying types of diabetes in people with young-onset diabetes from different ethnic groups, to investigate whether ethnicity has an impact on diabetes presentation and type. One of the key findings from the study was the discovery that genetic forms of diabetes are being misdiagnosed in people from ethnic minority groups.
Maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY) is a rare form of diabetes which runs in families and is caused by a mutation in a single gene. MODY is very rare compared with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and around 20,000-40,000 people in the UK have it.
As part of MY DIABETES, Dr Misra outlined that healthcare professionals are missing cases of MODY in south Asian and African Caribbean individuals – who then may not receive the right treatment compared with White Europeans.
Dr Misra also found that using broader criteria, such as whether a person is making their own insulin, identified undiagnosed cases of MODY in non-white ethnic groups. Dr Misra suggested that using these new guidelines could help doctors to better diagnose MODY and refer more patients for genetic testing.
In 2018, Dr Misra was named in the Evening Standard 1000 health influencers for her work on the misdiagnosis of thousands of patients due to misconceptions about the role of ethnicity and diabetes. She also received the Outstanding Educator Award at the 2021 Quality in Care Diabetes awards for her MY DIABETES study and is currently a member of the DRWF Board of Trustees.
DRWF has also worked collaboratively with other leading UK diabetes charities and medical institutions on important research. In 2020, we part-funded a project into gestational diabetes, which revealed the top 10 unanswered questions of pregnant women living with diabetes.
Around 38,000 women with diabetes give birth in the UK each year (5% of pregnancies) and rates are rising. This can cause complications during pregnancy and birth, and may have long-term effects for mother and child, such as cardiovascular disease.
The list produced by the research study revealed the top ten research questions that women, their support networks, and healthcare professionals agree are the most important for research to address in diabetes and pregnancy. With the results publicly available, it is hoped that project will encourage the funding of research studies relating to diabetes and pregnancy and aligned with the priorities of those impacted by it.
25 years of research
Over the last 25 years, we have seen the number of people living with diabetes more than double to over 5 million. Whilst there have been some major milestones in the diagnosis, treatment, and care of diabetes in this time, our work has never been more important.
For 25 years we have been supporting people living with diabetes by raising awareness, hosting educational events, and funding vital diabetes research projects.
Thanks to the generosity of our amazing supporters, we have contributed to research that not only advances our understanding of diabetes but delivers benefit in a practical sense through improved care and treatment. We exist almost entirely on voluntary income via individual donations, legacies, trusts, and grants to support these projects that move us closer to finding a cure for diabetes.
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