Major boost for children's diabetes research in WA


The Centre, based at The University of Western Australia-affiliated Telethon Kids Institute, is the first paediatric clinical diabetes Centre for Research Excellence in Australia and was launched by former federal Liberal MP Judi Moylan, president of the Diabetes Australia Board.

The Centre has been funded by more than $7 million over five years from the National Health and Medical Research Council, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Australia, Australian Research Council and The University of Western Australia.

Co-directors Professor Tim Jones and Associate Professor Liz Davis said the Centre was an exciting initiative which brought together experts in type 1 diabetes, exercise, health economics and education.

“The Centre puts our team at the forefront of Type 1 diabetes research in the world,” Professor Jones said.

“It not only represents a massive vote of confidence in the skills and expertise of our local researchers but it gives WA children with Type 1 diabetes greater access to cutting-edge treatments through our research.” 

More than half of the approximately 2,000 Australians diagnosed annually with Type 1 diabetes are children.

Professor Jones, from UWA said the Centre would build the team’s capacity to run clinical trials with international and national collaborators.

“One of the unique features of our Centre will be the high level of consumer involvement in all aspects of our research from highlighting problems they confront at home, to translation of our research into clinical outcomes,” he said. 

Professor Davis said the Centre would cover a broad spectrum of research including programs to address the increased mental health issues suffered by young diabetics.

David Nickels, an 18-year-old diabetic, spoke at the launch about his experience of participating in a continuous glucose monitoring trial with staff at the Centre.

“Living with Type 1 diabetes is extremely tough but working with the researchers on this trial has helped turnaround my attitude to diabetes and motivated me to take greater care in managing my blood sugar levels,” David said.

He said the research team had also encouraged him to pursue his interest in professional cycling which recently saw him secure a contract with Team NovoNordisk, an all Type 1 diabetic cycling team in the US.

Some of the other research projects include;
•        The first home trial of an “artificial pancreas” – the ‘closed loop’ insulin pump system – in Australia which will involve 200     families and five hospitals across Australia;

•        Studies to better understand the interaction of insulin with exercise and food intake;

•        Programs to support young diabetics in a school environment and;

•        Development and trial of an app to measure the impact of anxiety on blood glucose levels in teenage diabetics.

Professor Jones said improving treatment for the growing number of children diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes would not only improve their health but would also reduce the high cost of managing this incurable disease in our community.

Media references

David Stacey (UWA Media and Public Relations Manager)    (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 32 637 716

Erin Broderick (Telethon Kids Institute)                                                                    (+61 4) 39 990 359