Annual DBlog Day: Seeing Hope.
This past weekend, I flew down to Florida to participate in a two day diabetes event at the Diabetes Research Institute, with a handful of other diabetes bloggers including Kerri, Manny, Scott Strumello and Gina, along with a few other familiar faces, like Jeff Hitchcock and Ellen Ullman. While we were in Florida to speak at the annual Diabetes Research Institute conference, this year renamed Diabetes 2.0, our weekend actually began on Friday with a tour of the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami, where we had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with leading diabetes researchers, including Dr. Jay Skylar, Dr. Antonello Pileggi and the famed Dr. Camillo Riccordi, the DRI’s Scientific Director.
As we toured the facility with our guide, the President and CEO of DRI, Robert Pearlman, we went in and out of a variety of labs, watching scientists hovering over their microscopes, and we even met one of the mice that is helping scientists in their pursuit of a cure . We learned about everything from new methods in islet cell transplants to find new sources of islet cells from stem cells, both embryonic and adult stem cells, and how to avoid using the toxic immunosuppressant drugs used to keep the body from rejecting new islet cells – but which causes loads of health problems and really isn’t the greatest alternative to diabetes.
While most of the scientific mumbo-jumbo went absolutely over our heads, for me, personally, it was absolutely inspiring and humbling to meet the scientists who are working everyday to help me. We all want a cure and we all know that there is an incredible need and yet lack of priority that our country has given finding a cure for a variety of reasons. And yet when you are in the room with these men and women who are working everyday, all day, just to help you because they know the importance, that absolute requirement it is that this disease be cured, it’s hard not to feel overwhelming grateful and to think, “Wow, I really am not alone in this.” There are people all around the world who are working tirelessly to help us live a normal life. No one asked them to do this, and yet they’ve chosen to devote their lives to finding a cure for a disease that many of us struggle to believe will even happen.
But I am a cheerleader for these men and women. When I look at the DRI, and when I look at the other scientists working in Boston, Minneapolis, San Francisco and in dozens of countries around the world, I can see tangible reasons for hope in these people. Because they aren’t giving up and moving on to something that will get them more fame or money. I am not going to give up on them either.
With Dr. Camillo Riccordi at the Diabetes Research Institute
Happy D-Blog Day, everyone!