Brain Drain?

Philip WelfordIn the early 1990s, scientists and some really smart people flocked out of Canada to do research pretty much everywhere else in the world. Funding in Canada was drying up and fast. The economic realities of the time meant that the books had to be balanced on the back of health care and research, amongst others.

Since then, things have changed. This is good news for people living with type 1 diabetes (T1D). The Canadian economy is doing better than just about anywhere, and governments of all political stripes are realizing that research creates long term, high paying jobs.

Canada now has an enviable reputation in the field of diabetes research, from Banting and Best in the early 1900s to the Edmonton Protocol in 1990. JDRF was one of the funders of Dr. James Shapiro and The Edmonton Protocol in Edmonton, and we are proud that his team’s work has changed the lives of people suffering with this devastating disease.

Since our inception in 1970 in the US (1974 in Canada), JDRF has funded over $1.6 billion (US) in T1D research. For most of the last 40 years, we have funded basic research – simply put, paying scientists to look through microscopes. Some amazing things have been done with that money.

More recently, we have realized that we need to move things faster. In 2000, JDRF was funding just five human clinical trials – none of which were in Canada. Now, we are funding more than 50 – nine are right here, in Canada. Established in partnership with the Government of Canada, we launched JDRF Canadian Clinical Trial Network (JDRF CCTN) to finally give Canadians living with this disease access to the latest technologies. While recruitment for clinical trials is always difficult, Canadians are flocking to take part.

While this is, in part, due to the absence of trials in the past, I believe it’s even more than that. People are participating in these trials because of the quality of our clinicians. They are well-educated, smart, and want one thing: to improve the lives of the people they are treating.

JDRF CCTN’s principal clinicians are nothing short of incredible, and JDRF is both proud and privileged to be working with them. Canada truly has reversed the brain drain into a brain gain, and I hope – even in some small part – that JDRF has contributed to that.


Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, JDRF Canada
Former political staffer, businessman, entrepreneur, truck driver, and – best of all – farmer.

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Lets turn type one into type none