Published on 4 March 2021

Dr Stephanie Hanna, from Cardiff University, has been awarded this year’s Professor David Matthews Non-Clinical Fellowship.

DRWF is delighted to announce the award of the 2021 Professor David Matthews Non-Clinical Fellowship, to Dr Stephanie Hanna, a research associate at the School of Medicine at Cardiff University.

Dr Hanna’s successful application is for a research project looking into the treatment of severe insulin resistance for people living with type 1 diabetes.

The award provides a total of £194,933 for the study which will take place over a three-year period.

Project title:
Identifying islet antigen specific lymphocytes by recruitment to intradermally injected autoantigens, using single cell RNA sequencing: a route to novel cell based therapies and immune monitoring.
DRWF researcher Stephanie Hanna.

Summary of Dr Hanna’s research:

Dr Hanna: “Immunotherapy in type 1 diabetes aims to reduce the body’s immune attack on the insulin-producing beta cells.

To develop these treatments, it is important to be able to identify and monitor the white blood cells that cause the damage.

We cannot study these cells safely in the pancreas and numbers in the blood are very low.

However, I have observed that after injecting molecules derived from the beta cells into the skin, I can detect white blood cells multiplying in skin.

I have also been able to detect cells multiplying in lymph glands that drain the skin using ultrasound guided needle sampling.

These are likely to be cells from the pancreas attracted to the skin by the injection of pancreas derived protein.

I will study these cells using state-of-the-art single cell analysis technology and use this information to develop highly targeted treatments for the immune response in type 1 diabetes.

DRWF Research awards – How they work

Each year, DRWF offer a three-year Fellowship which we alternate between Clinical (Sutherland-Earl Clinical Fellowship) and Non-Clinical (The Professor David Matthews Non-Clinical Fellowship).

The Fellowship is a 3-stage application process including online pre-application where applications are scored by our Research Advisory Board. The top ranking applications are then invited to submit a full application.

The full applications are then sent out to external reviewers (experts in their field) to score and comment as well as to our Research Advisory Board.

The applications are ranked according to score and the top scoring applicants are invited to attend an interview with the DRWF Research Advisory Board, where they give a presentation on their project and answer questions posed to them by the Board members.

Following further discussion, recommendations for funding are made to the DRWF Board of Trustees.

The successful applicant is offered the Fellowship and unsuccessful applicants are given feedback on their application and presentation in compliance with AMRC recommendations.

The successful researcher is expected to give yearly progress reports on their work which is reviewed by the Chairman of the DRWF RAB to ensure that the work continues to meet funding expectations.

Read more about DRWF-funded research

In search of a cure...

Put simply, it is our ultimate goal to discover a cure for diabetes. We know that this is a long road but we are intent on maximising the potential by funding the highest quality clinical and scientific research at the very best research institutions in the UK and around the world.

You can learn more about our research programme and the work we have funded here.

For researchers

Our research programme is designed to support bright young researchers, as well as established institutions, as they strive to make the kind of life-changing break-through our diabetes community is hoping for.

Researchers seeking further information on our currently available grants, can view details of all application requirements on this site, using the links provided. Further questions should be directed to the research department by email at:

Call to action - How you can support DRWF during this time

Sarah Tutton, Chief Executive of DRWF, said: “Research is the only way to find new treatments and a cure for diabetes. We have multi-year grant awards in place right now which we must do our utmost to honour and we must be able to react to ongoing applications that we receive for research work that could truly make a difference to the lives of people with diabetes. 

“We exist on voluntary donations and fundraised income and like most charities, Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our ability to raise the funds we need. We expect the months ahead will be just as challenging, and sadly this may have an impact on our ability to fund the volume and value of research work that could fuel the next big breakthrough.

“Charities need us, as we need them, more than ever before. Our supporters enable us to keep our research funding on track meaning that the diabetes research community has funds available to find the cure that could transform the lives of millions. We can’t thank our supporters enough for their continued support during these challenging times.”

Read Lockdown guidance for staying home and safe for people living with diabetes during Covid-19 pandemic
Read How people with diabetes could become more ill if diagnosed with Covid-19
DRWF operations during the Covid-19 health crisis

The DRWF team is working remotely. Covid-19 guidance, particularly where it aligns or impacts with diabetes guidance, is shared as quickly as possible through the DRWF website and social media channels with the aim of making it as easy to understand as possible and a reliable source of latest news.

Further reports to follow – visit DRWF news page
Support DRWF by making a donation here
Find out more about DRWF-funded research here
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