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What is the Special Diabetes Program?

0 3 years ago

The Special Diabetes Program (SDP) is a funding program created by the Congress in 1998 following recommendation from a Congressional Diabetes Research Working Group which reported that inadequate funding was impeding diabetes research and thus limiting optimal treatment and prevention of diabetes. The program is administered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)* and focuses on research regarding the prevention and cure of type I diabetes (T1D)

The 116th Congress (2019-2020) increased the annual funding of SPD from $150 million to $200 million for each of fiscal years 2020 through 2024 under Section 330B(b)(2)(D) of the Public Health Service Act.

The program has enabled many critical scientific breakthroughs and helped scientists make significant advances in diabetes research. SDP supports unique, long-term, collaborative research consortia because a long-term investment in research is a prerequisite for any revolutionary scientific progress to happen in the study of chronic diseases like diabetes.

Highlights of research led by NIH Institutes and Centers and the CDC include:

National Eye Institute (NEI): Blindness is a debilitating complication of diabetes. To fight this complication, the NEI leads the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network, a multicenter clinical research consortium on diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, and other associated conditions.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID): In people with type 1 diabetes, the immune system destroys the insulin-producing beta cells. Research related to the immune system could inform the causes, prevention, treatment, and cure of type 1 diabetes. The NIAID-led Immune Tolerance Network is developing and testing novel immune therapies of type 1 diabetes. The Clinical Islet Transplantation Consortium, co-led by the NIAID and the NIDDK, is studying new strategies to improve islet transplantation, a developing treatment for the disease.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): Type 1 diabetes often strikes in infancy, childhood, or young adulthood. The NICHD leads the Trial to Reduce IDDM in the Genetically at Risk, a research trial testing a possible environmental trigger of type 1 diabetes in infants.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK): To identify the causes of the disease, the NIDDK leads The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young study. Programs led by the NIDDK are also aimed at determining ways to prevent or delay onset of type 1 diabetes (Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet); generating cures (Human Islet Research Network; developing artificial pancreas technologies); and developing new talent in the research workforce. Critical efforts addressing the complications of type 1 diabetes are also led by the NIDDK (Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications, Preventing Early Renal Loss in Diabetes).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Uniform national information on people with type 1 diabetes is essential to improve public health. The CDC and NIDDK’s Search for Diabetes in Youth study provided the first data on incidence and prevalence of diabetes in children in the United States and continues to monitor whether these are changing over time

*The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the government agency that administers Federal funding for medical research across the country and around the world. Within the NIH, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) is the lead institute for coordinating and conducting research to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. In addition to administering the Special Diabetes Program (SDP) funds, NIDDK (and other institutes within the NIH) awards grants on a competitive basis with funding the NIH receives from Congress annually through the annual appropriations process.


Header Photo by CDC on Unsplash


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