Lilly Canada and JDRF Canada Award Post-doctoral Fellowships in Type 1 Diabetes Research

Through Lilly’s ongoing generosity, two new JDRF Post-doctoral Fellowships have been awarded in 2015

Toronto, ON, December 1, 2015 - Lilly Canada and JDRF Canada have awarded an additional $120,000 in 2015 towards fellowship grants for promising investigators pursuing type 1 diabetes (T1D) research.  Operating through the JDRF Canadian Clinical Trial Network (JDRF CCTN), this program is designed to provide the next generation of young investigators the opportunity to further engage in medical research associated with T1D.  JDRF thanks Lilly for their on-going support of this important initiative.

The 2015 Recipients are:

Investigator: Dr. Yi-Chun Chen
Project: "Alternatively processed forms of islet amloid polypeptide as biomarkers of beta cell failure"

Dr. Yi-Chun Chen earned her BSc in Medical Laboratory Science at Taipei Medical University in Taiwan, her MSc in Cell Biology at the University of Connecticut and her PhD in Cellular and Integrative Physiology from Indiana University School of Medicine in the United States. She has received numerous honours, including the Stier Award and the Erica Daniel Kepner Award for Scientific Achievement from the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Virendra B. Mahesh Award of Excellence in Endocrinology from the American Physiology Society.

Imagine if we were able to predict the onset of T1D, and start treating individuals before they were even diagnosed with the disease, significantly improving long-term health outcomes. Currently, Dr. Chen is working with colleagues at Dr. Bruce Verchere’s Laboratory to develop a new biomarker test that will measure predictors of T1D to help individuals at risk of developing T1D begin treatment sooner. Specifically, her project focuses on developing a blood test that senses the subtle changes in cell function and hormone production that take place prior to the onset of T1D. 

Investigator: Dr. Laura Cook
Project: "Characterizing GAD65-specific CD4+T cells in T1D patients during treatment with Ustekinumab

Dr. Laura Cook is currently a University of British Columbia postdoctoral research fellow based at the Child & Family Research Institute at BC Children’s Hospital. She developed an interest in the field of immunology as an undergraduate at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. She has received several awards in recognition of her academic achievements, including the University’s Jackson Prize for Honours Year and the University Medal in Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She won the prestigious national Australian Postgraduate Award and the University’s Research Excellence Award to fund her PhD in Immunology, which she completed in 2014. Dr. Cook has also served in the Australian Army Reserve since 2005 and is currently training with the Canadian Army Reserve through a Reserve Force Foreign Service Attachment.

Dr. Cook will be joining the team working on the JDRF CCTN-funded clinical trial involving ustekinumab. Launched in British Columbia in 2014, the goal of this study is to determine whether ustekinumab, an existing drug used to combat inflammation in the treatment of another immune condition, can slow the progression of T1D in newly diagnosed patients. In individuals with T1D, the loss of the ability to secrete insulin results from specific immune cells, called T cells, malfunctioning and attacking pancreatic cells (with a major target for these cells being an enzyme called GAD65). Dr. Cook will be studying whether administering ustekinumab to people with T1D reduces inflammation and slows the onset of T1D, while examining how the drug affects the quantity and function of these T cells. The results may advance our understanding of the immune system responses that cause this disease, leading to the development of new clinical treatments that could slow, and potentially even reverse, T1D.

Since 2013, Lilly Canada and JDRF Canada have partnered to support the creation of a national clinical training program.  Since then the program has selected the following post-doctoral fellows as recipients, each of a one-year grant enabling them to further their training opportunities in T1D translational research.  

2014 Recipients:
Investigator: Alexandra Paun, PhD
Institution: Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON Canada
Project: Immune responses to gut microbiome during progression of islet autoimmunity
Investigator: Andrew Pepper, PhD
Institution: University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB Canada
Project: Synergizing novel cell death inhibitors to promote indefinite insulin independence post-single donor islet transplantation
Investigator: Alanna Weisman, MD
Institution: Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada
Project: Canadian study of longevity in diabetes: Discovering factors for success after 50 years of type 1 diabetes
2013 Recipients:
Investigator: Emmeline Heffernan, MB, BCh, BAO
Institution: Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, ON Canada
Project: Evaluation of a novel CGM trend arrow bolus adjustment tool in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes using insulin pump therapy and continuous glucose monitoring
*This award is made possible through a partnership with JDRF-UK, with special thanks to the Gillespie Family
Investigator: Ashish Marwaha, MBBCh
Institution: University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC Canada
Project: Management of clinical trial of Ustekinumab in new-onset type 1 diabetes


About JDRF Canadian Clinical Trial Network:

The JDRF Canadian Clinical Trial Network (JDRF CCTN) is an initiative to accelerate solutions for the management, care, and cure of type 1 diabetes (T1D). The JDRF CCTN is a strong clinical research network to develop and conduct leading-edge clinical trials in T1D and its complications, in order to accelerate delivery of the benefits of research advances to the community. Through funding from the Canadian Federal Government, JDRF and the WB Family Foundation, $36.9 million has been invested to accelerate the testing of new technologies and treatments benefiting Canadians and individuals around the world living with T1D and its complications. For more information, visit

About Lilly Canada 

Eli Lilly Canada was established in 1938, the result of a research collaboration with scientists at the University of Toronto which eventually produced the world's first commercially-available insulin. Lilly Canada now employs more than 500 people across the country, working in the areas of oncology, cardiovascular and endocrine disorders, men's and women's health, autoimmunity, neuroscience and diabetes. To learn more about Lilly Canada, please visit us at

About JDRF Canada:

JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. JDRF Canada is built on a grassroots model of people connecting in their local communities, collaborating regionally for efficiency and broader fundraising impact, and uniting on an international stage to pool resources, passion and energy. Our mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. To accomplish this, JDRF has invested nearly $2 billion since our inception. We collaborate with academic institutions, policymakers, and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with T1D. Our staff and volunteers in more than 100 locations around the world are dedicated to advocacy, community engagement and our vision of a world without T1D. For more information, please visit

For more information:

Julie Andaloro
National Manager, Communications & Public Relations 
JDRF Canada
e: [email protected]           
t: 647-789-2027  
Diana Buccella      
National Communications Specialist
JDRF Canada
e: [email protected]
t: 647-789-2368
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