Tuesday, March 8, 2022 marks International Women’s Day (IWD) around the word. For this year, the theme is #BreakTheBias. The theme challenges us to imagine a gender equal world, that is free from bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. To envision a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive and where difference is valued and celebrated.
JDRF is pleased to rise to the challenge by breaking the bias of science being a primarily male-led field, as we celebrate our all-women research department. JDRF is the leading charitable funder of research into cures and disease modifying therapies for type 1 diabetes (T1D). Helping to shape this research are Drs. Anne Marie MacDonald and Sarah Linklater, our National Manager of Research Programs and Communications and Chief Scientific Officer respectively.
Anne Marie MacDonald has studied throughout the world and holds an undergraduate degree in physiology from McGill University and La Sorbonne (Montreal, Canada and Paris, France), a medical degree from the Jagiellonian University Collegium Medicum (Krakow, Poland) and a Master of Science degree in cancer rehabilitation from the University of Toronto.
Fluently bilingual in English and French, Dr. MacDonald uses her background to advocate for healthy active living and chronic disease self-management. Her career has focused on what she most believes in: supporting Canadians live an active and healthy life, whether through physical activity interventions, digital behavior change programs, or public health advocacy. She lives in Oakville, ON with her husband and young daughter, and when not working she is likely swimming, biking or running, or enjoying a strong coffee with a good book.
Dr. MacDonald understands personally what it means to live with T1D, and this drives her passion for supporting the most promising diabetes research.
“It’s an exciting time in diabetes research– a lot is happening at an accelerated pace, in our very own backyard. I love science and I know type 1 diabetes (I was diagnosed over thirty years ago) and so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with JDRF Canada in an important research role (and on an all-female team!). Now is not the time to watch from the sidelines, and so I’m honored to be able to help the organization reach their goals,” says Dr. MacDonald.
Dr. Sarah Linklater is Chief Scientific Officer of JDRF Canada, where she leads the organization’s research strategy, funding programs and partnerships, and oversees clinical trials and research projects funded by the organization in Canada.
Before joining JDRF Canada in 2019, Sarah worked in scientific and medical publishing in the UK for 11 years, most recently as Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, which she helped to launch in 2013. She obtained her PhD studying immune regulation and gene therapy approaches at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, and at the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy in Milan, Italy.
Dr. Linklater is interested in all things type 1 diabetes, access to insulin around the world, and patient-oriented research. She lives with her husband and two children in Nanaimo, BC.
“JDRF Canada is proud to count so many women among our funded researchers, and especially among our trainees, who will go on to become the next generation of Canadian leaders in T1D research. I am grateful to all of the incredible women mentors I have benefitted throughout my career – now, I’m doing my best to pay it forward. It’s such a privilege to work with JDRF! Each day, I’m motivated by the advances we are driving, the passion of our researchers, and connecting with the T1D community,” says Dr. Linklater.
It’s an exciting time in T1D research, as many new potential disease modifying therapies and cure-based studies are in clinical trials, with the goal of bringing these to market and changing the reality for people living with diabetes. Much of this research may also have impact on other chronic autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis, and could lead to improved treatment options for type 2 diabetes.
Drs. MacDonald and Linklater are key decision-makers in determining the most promising research to fund, and JDRF is so grateful for their efforts in helping us get closer to our goal of a world free from T1D.
**** To read more about JDRF funded women researchers: https://www.jdrf.ca/celebrating-our-women-researchers-on-international-womens-day/