Making our way towards a cure

While down in Florida, I had the amazing opportunity to visit the Diabetes Research Institute in Miami. The private tour ranged from speaking with Gary Kleiman who provided detailed information on medical advancements on a layman’s level to being introduced to all the troops (scientists and bio-med engineers) in the trenches. At each stage, more information was shared with Mandy (my girlfriend) and me than I could have dreamed of.

During the visit, my mind was already churning anticipating the moment I’d be able to share the technology I was seeing with you all. When I returned, I recognized there were so many awesome things that I saw and I was having a hard time outlining where to begin. But suddenly, I realized that I’d be doing you an injustice by just writing about the the new technologies being used because you can find all that out on your own at and since I’m no scientist, I’d probably fudge up a lot of it anyway. Instead, I’m going to focus on the people that I met and the culture of the Diabetes Research Institute because you can’t read about that on any website, and 99.9% of you, unfortunately, will probably never have the opportunity to meet the people working day in and day out to cure your disease.

Let me start off by saying that if my high school science teachers exuded as much excitement about their work as these people did, I think there is a very good chance that medicine and science would have been my chosen career. It is extraordinary to hear scientists and engineers sharing knowledge with me with the kind of enthusiasm for a Cure that I have only witnessed in other people with diabetes.

You know when you’re sharing a story with friends and you simply can’t hold back a smile because you’re so excited to have them hear it? Those same smiles were on the faces of EVERY SINGLE employee. It gave me goosebumps just listening to them. I can only describe it as witnessing greatness. These are some of the top scientists, engineers, and physicians in the world. For them to tell me about their accomplishments and ideas was something I had been looking forward to for a long time. But to hear them share these thoughts with me with such excitement was something that, quite frankly, I was not expecting.

In my previous life on Wall Street, I dealt with a number of scientists, researchers, and professors who were involved in conducting trials for research. In fact, one scientist concentrated solely on Type 2 diabetes. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that every single conversation I had with these people included, in one way or another, complaining about the amount of grant money they were (or rather were not) receiving. That’s just the nature of the beast. At the DRI, these feelings, while I’m sure shared, were not mentioned and not focused on.

It is my belief that focusing on negativity like “Why is grant money being pulled?” or “This economy is really screwing me” is totally counter-productive, yet I’ve seen it be the main focus of so many scientists’ minds. It is simply not the case at the DRI.

Another thing I have never experienced on Wall Street, except from friends at Goldman Sachs, is a true love for the company you work for. Every single person we were introduced to was so passionate about the Diabetes Research Institute that the sentiment seeped out of their pores. There was a sense of morale in the air that many of the top businesses in the world would be envious of. In particular, the DRI has many different focuses, including stem cells, islet harvesting, and auto-immunity drugs, that are all working towards a Cure…just in different ways. The thing that separates the DRI from any other Institute that I know of is that most of this work is being done under the same roof. That creates a mecca of knowledge and expertise in different but complimentary fields.

The results are fantastic. Geniuses from different fields are constantly meeting, brainstorming, and helping each other. Imagine the headquarters of Google, Apple, NASA, GE and Facebook were all in the same building and all these companies were working towards one united goal, and no one was competing. Imagine the results!

A Company’s “people” is its biggest asset. Based on this notion, I would value the Diabetes Research Institute as a zillion dollar company. Personally, I will be dedicating a lot more of my time raising funds for the foundation. You should, too.

Also, do yourself a favor, take a few minutes out of your day and watch this Brian Williams report on stem cells.

An islet implant is just a bit larger than a quarter.

This state of the art microscope allows scientists to see how effective islet transplants are through the eyes of a mouse...literally. This new process allows scientists to measure effectiveness exponentially faster than ever before.

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Very interesting. With so much it would be nice to a cure in my life time. We’ll keep praying, while these people work so hard to get us there.

Gives me even more hope! thanks for sharing

Many readers here will probably want to check out some of the clinical trials that DRI is conducting. Perhaps the greatest interest would be in checking out some of their islet cell implantation investigations, particularly the various immunosupressant (sp?) medications they are trying out. You can see them at .

You got me inspired! The link needs fixing (the tudiabetes link is mistakenly combined with the dri part).

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback! I’m glad you are all enjoying my experience as much as I did.

(I’ve fixed the link, as well)

The post is wonderful. Thank you so much. I am hopeful that scientists can find the cause as much as the cure. I was not aware of this group and it is wonderful to be educated.

rick phillips

It is so exciting to see how the biology of islet cell transplantation is going high tech and combining with computer technology to advance the field. The encapsuling of the islets to hide them from the immune system seems to be a promising direction. Thanks for posting this and the pictures are great!

I have just spoken to a recruiter at the Institute about possibly participating in their islet cell transplant project. At this stage, I don’t know if I’d be a candidate or how I feel about the proceedure. I am going to start a forum discussion about my concerns with taking the immune supressants… I am anxious to hear everyone’s thoughts.