DRWF supporters visit DRWF-funded Human Islet Isolation Facility at Oxford.
Clinicians and scientists from around the world, specialising in islet cell research and transplant met recently in Oxford as the 16 annual IPITA congress, held in the UK for the first time.
DRWF supported the IPITA (International Pancreas and Islet Transplant Association) event, as it has done over the last 10 years, in line with the charity’s commitment to islet cell research and transplants in the UK and around the world.
As part of the IPITA 2017 congress, the IPITA Young Investigator Committee (YIC) met with the local diabetes community to highlight the exciting research and innovation that is going on within the field of pancreas and islet transplantation.
Researchers welcomed guests to the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM) for a “behind the scenes” experience of research and clinical activities, and an opportunity to meet the next generation of scientists and clinicians working within the field of diabetes.
DRWF-funded researcher Dr Sarah Cross
The event was held at the Churchill Hospital and was organised by Sarah Cross, Postdoctoral Research Scientist and Deputy Laboratory Manager at the DRWF Human Islet Isolation Facility. Professor Paul Johnson, Director of the Facility and Chair of the IPITA 2017 Local Organising Committee, introduced the event.
Professor Johnson said: “The UK has a strong track record in the fields of whole pancreas and islet transplantation and has been instrumental in a number of key developments including being one of the first countries in the world to have a nationally commissioned clinical islet transplant programme, as well as establishing the first joint whole organ and islet donor pancreas allocation scheme.”
The DRWF Human Islet Isolation Facility in the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford is one of the leading islet isolation laboratories in Europe, and provides human islets, not only for clinical transplantation, but also for a broad range of world-leading diabetes related research projects that require human islets.
DRWF Chief Executive Sarah Tutton said: “DRWF has been funding islet cell research in the UK since 2004 and internationally, as part of the Diabetes Wellness International Network, since 2007. Collectively, DRWF groups in the US, UK, France, Sweden and Finland have contributed more than £28 million to islet cell research and transplant around the world. Significant advances have been made in this field, with the UK offering islet transplants as a treatment option for a selection of people with type 1 diabetes, but there is still so much more to be done. IPITA brings together the worlds experts in whole organ and islet transplant to facilitate information sharing and we are pleased to have supported this event once again.”
DRWF staff Lee Calladine and Karen Scott with DRWF Trustee Rae Marie Lawson (centre)
DRWF’s invited guests had an opportunity to put their questions forward to the experts in a lively debate before a “meet the researchers” networking session.
In addition to tours of the DRWF Human Islet Isolation Facility, there were also talks by IPITA YIC members from around the world , including Dr Raphael Meier (Switzerland), Dr Leticia Labriola (Brazil), Dr Nathan Zammit (Australia) and Dr Christian Schuetz, (USA), who gave presentations on islet cell transplantation research and how type 1 diabetes could be managed in the future. DRWF Trustee and islet transplant recipient Rae Marie Lawson gave a presentation on how having the treatment had changed her life.
Lee Calladine, DRWF Event Coordinator, said: “Dr Cross took us step-by-step through the donor and transplant process and we got to see a member of the specialist team in action in the lab. This was a fantastic day and opportunity for people to actually experience what really happens in a research setting. The event gave our guests the chance to see how their gifts are used to benefit people living with diabetes and how it continues to push the boundaries of medical research forward to new levels of life changing discoveries. Everyone went home with a greater understanding of the vital work charities fund and the incredible work that goes on behind the scenes.”