PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Longtime JDRF supporters, Jon and Bonnie O'Neil of Berwyn, PA, led a "Celebration Major Gift" Campaign engaging five generous donors to make a multi-year combined gift of $110K to the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter of JDRF. The gift was in honor of the exciting efforts of JDRF to make the artificial pancreas (AP) a reality in just 10 short years. In addition to the O'Neil family, gifts included pledges from Norman and Suzanne Cohn, Matthew and Lea Cohn, Bobby and Randie Harmelin, and Ryan and Carolyn Harkins. Aaron Kowalski, Ph.D., chief mission officer at JDRF International accepted the award on behalf of JDRF.
In September, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first commercial version of the Medtronic MiniMed 670G hybrid closed-loop system. Dr. Kowalski was part of the team at JDRF that catalyzed the research and advocacy work in the development of artificial pancreas systems over the past decade.
"The gift comes at an exciting time in type 1 diabetes research. JDRF began its support of artificial pancreas technology more than a decade ago, when it was still a concept that companies were hesitant to embrace," said Patrick K. Delaney, executive director, JDRF Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter. "After years of laying the groundwork, this breakthrough is a testament to the reason JDRF exists – to help people with this disease lead better, safer, healthier lives while we continue on the path to cure and prevent the disease altogether. The leadership of so many people is indispensable to our ability to achieve our vision, and we are profoundly grateful to them."
Artificial pancreas systems automate blood-sugar management, dramatically reducing type 1 diabetes-related risks and improving the lives of people who have the disease. These systems monitor glucose levels around the clock and automatically provide the right amount of basal insulin, and potentially other blood-sugar stabilizing hormones, at the right time.
"When I heard about the launch of the first commercial artificial pancreas system, I was overwhelmed with pride and amazement for all that JDRF has been able to accomplish in 10 short years," said Bonnie O'Neil, former Chapter Board President and current Leadership Giving Chair. "Growing up with siblings with T1D, it seemed decades would pass without any visible progress toward a cure. When Aaron first shared JDRF's vision of an AP in 2006 at our chapter's bi-annual Education Conference it sounded like science fiction. My husband and I, and all of us who have contributed to the Celebration Major Gift, wanted to honor JDRF's accomplishment, and our hope is that this gift will help launch the next great projects of the coming decade. How fitting it was to be able to present the gift to Aaron, as he has been JDRF's AP champion from the very beginning."
The Celebration Major Gift was presented at the chapter's annual Research Update, held on November 29 at the home of Matthew and Lea Cohn. Attendees included chapter board of director members, chapter board of chancellor members, major donors, corporate partners and new friends to JDRF. Lea Cohn welcomed the guests and her JDRF family, including daughter Sydney Cohn, who is living with T1D and who participated in an artificial pancreas clinical trial.
The combined pledge from multiple families of $110K comes at a critical time in JDRF-funded research. T1D is an autoimmune disease that strikes children and adults suddenly, without regard to lifestyle or activity level, and leaves them dependent on injected or pump-infused insulin for life.
JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Our mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. To accomplish this, JDRF has invested more than $2 billion in research funding since our inception. We are an organization built on a grassroots model of people connecting in their local communities, collaborating regionally for efficiency and broader fundraising impact, and uniting on a national stage to pool resources, passion, and energy. We collaborate with academic institutions, policymakers, and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with T1D. Our staff and volunteers throughout the United States and our six international affiliates are dedicated to advocacy, community engagement and our vision of a world without T1D. For more information, please visit jdrf.org or follow us on Twitter: @JDRF
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