Friday, June 6, 2008

Sanford Health announces it will focus research effort on juvenile diabetes

From MPR:

Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, announced it will focus its research efforts to cure juvenile or type one diabetes. The announcement ends months of speculation which disease would win out - there were 4 finalist diseases announced a month ago. Last year the medical center received a $400 million donation from philanthropist T. Denny Sanford and that opened the door to today's announcement.

According to diabetes researcher and director of Sanford Children's Research Center Fred Levine, it's likely the research in beta cells will have an impact in how diabetes is treated in general

"In my previous visits to South Dakota, I've learned that type two diabetes is epidemic even among children in the Native American population of your state," he says. "Thus, through the efforts of the Sanford Project, we hope to have a positive impact on those individuals as well as the children with type one diabetes."

For some observers, curing a disease is not what Sanford Health should be targeting.

Cure is a word Gary Schwitzer says is about marketing not medicine. Schwitzer, director of the University of Minnesota health journalism program, was unaware of The Sanford Project.

While he'll never question philanthropy and the need for research funding, Schwitzer says the public must engage in a conversation about what's happening.

"When a private entity enters into a research project with goals like these, I think these are vital questions for us to ask and for us to drop back and have the broader discussion," he says. "What's the national research agenda? Where are the dollars coming from? Should we care about that?"

But funding for research is declining and scientists rely more and more on private dollars.

The Sanford Project is joining forces with reputable research organizations like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Burnham Institute in La Jolla, California.

Sanford Health will invest $30 million in the research project over the next seven years.

They will construct a new research lab and recruit top flight scientists to Sioux Falls.

No comments: