Steve Morgan Foundation donates £50m to cure type 1 diabetes

The Steve Morgan Foundation has announced a £50m donation to transform the lives of people living with type 1 diabetes and lead the global race to a cure.

The £50m donation to Diabetes UK and JDRF UK is the largest-ever single gift in the UK for diabetes research and the announcement coincides with the centenary anniversary of the first use of insulin to treat type 1 diabetes.

Over five years, the £50m will fund the SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge which will cultivate collaboration between world-leading researchers, scientific organisations, and diabetes charities to drive innovation and accelerate research breakthroughs worldwide.

This unprecedented investment will see the UK’s two leading diabetes charities join forces to drive forward type 1 diabetes research and pave the way for the development of new treatments and a cure.

The Steve Morgan Foundation founder Steve Morgan, and his wife and SMF trustee Sally, are driven by their personal connection with the condition as their son Hugo was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of seven.

The SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge will focus on three key research areas:

  • Treatments to stop the immune system’s destruction of insulin-producing beta cells: Striking at the root cause of the condition – the immune system attack – to prevent new cases of type 1 diabetes altogether and protect beta cells in those already diagnosed.
  • Treatments to replace or rescue insulin-producing beta cells: Replacing the insulin-producing beta cells that have been destroyed by the immune system to restore the function of the pancreas.
  • Novel insulins, for example those that respond to changing blood sugar levels: These insulins could eliminate dangerous blood sugar highs and lows, reducing the risk of devastating complications and removing the extreme psychological burden of managing type 1 diabetes.

Steve and Sally Morgan, founders of the Steve Morgan Foundation, said: “We’re so incredibly proud to announce this landmark partnership with Diabetes UK and JDRF UK. With the expertise of the two leading diabetes charities in the UK, and our shared ambition to improve the lives of people with type 1 diabetes, the SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge will supercharge type 1 diabetes research, with the aim of having new treatments and ultimately a cure.

“We know from our own experience the impact that type 1 diabetes has on family life – it’s something we carry with us every day. But with research we can change that, and allow people with type 1 diabetes and their families to live without this relentless, lifelong condition.

“We want this ground-breaking partnership to inspire and motivate other funders to join in the shared ambition of the SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge, paving the way for a better future for those living with type 1 diabetes and their families.”

Chris Askew OBE, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK, said: “We’re delighted to launch this prestigious partnership with the Steve Morgan Foundation and JDRF UK. This unparalleled investment will change the course of type 1 diabetes research forever, galvanising the diabetes research community and accelerating us towards a cure that will change millions of lives not only in the UK but worldwide.

“We’re incredibly grateful to Steve and Sally Morgan for their £50m investment and their commitment to transforming the lives of people with type 1 diabetes. This is a call to arms for the scientific community, and we look forward to working with JDRF UK to unite the brightest minds in type 1 diabetes research to fuel new breakthroughs, together.

“Type 1 diabetes is relentless, but so are we, and this investment catapults us towards a world where type 1 diabetes finally relents, and diabetes can do no harm.”

Karen Addington, Chief Executive at JDRF UK, said: “This ground-breaking partnership, the UK’s largest ever single philanthropic gift for type 1 diabetes research, will catalyse medical research in a way never done before. In this golden age of type 1 diabetes research, advances in immunotherapy and stem cell research have put us within touching distance of functional cures.

“JDRF was founded on the values and practice of collaboration, both in the UK and internationally, and together with the Steve Morgan Foundation and Diabetes UK, we will drive research further, leading from the UK and drawing on JDRF’s global network of research excellence.

“I always think about the critically ill, eleven-year-old boy, Leonard Thompson whose life was saved 100 years ago, the first person ever to receive a dose of insulin. The Nobel Prize winning discovery of insulin was one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. Together, through the SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge we will match the ambition of those scientists a century ago in our drive and expertise to cure type 1 diabetes.”

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