As I’ve written about in some of my postings this past year (2009), I was fortunate to have been invited to not one, but two extraordinary events this year related to diabetes. Notably, in July, I was able to attend a diabetes social media summit hosted by Roche in Indianapolis, and then in November, I was asked to attend the Diabetes Research Institute’s Diabetes 2.0 Conference at the DRI’s homebase in Florida, including a guided tour through their facilities. Both were great for different reasons.
Of course, I also have a full-time job, so the mere fact that I was able to fit both of these events into my schedule was no small task! But as I thought about these events and how much the diabetes online community has evolved since I first began in 2005, I also thought about how my own role has also evolved over the past few years. After all, now there are others effectively competing for research news, whereas when I first began, I was one of the only one’s doing that. That certainly isn’t a bad thing, but it means that the world has evolved and I’ve had to change with it.
For example, When I began blogging back in the Fall of 2005, blogging was still kind of in it’s infancy, and there were only a handful of other self-proclaimed diabetes bloggers, among them Scott K. Johnson, Kerri Sparling (she was known Kerri Morrone back then), Allison Blass, Gina Capone, Bernard Farrell, David Edelman and perhaps a few others. But as the Diabetes OC (online community) has grown, so too has the competition for readership. Although I write mainly because I like to do so, there are now hundreds of eyes looking for any new diabetes stories out there, so sharing a breaking story isn’t the same as it was back in 2005, nor should it be.
I have tried to remain true to the integrity of my blog’s content, with a few occasional diversions. I don’t often tell a lot about myself because that’s not the reason I began blogging. I like to keep my personal life to myself.
Today, my blogging role is somewhat different. For example, today, I can help to bring the type of content that was once out-of-reach directly to people with an interest in diabetes research.
A case in point: In September, the 2009 World Stem Cell Conference took place in Baltimore, Maryland. Although I did not attend that event (I was offered an “invitation” – one which would have cost me several hundred dollars, not to mention travel expenses not paid by someone else), but along with that invitation, I also got updates letting me know that much of that content is now available online, albeit buried and not so easily accessible. There were several very interesting presentations, including ones featuring several prominent individuals from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as well as the Diabetes Research Institute.
By making those presentations available online, and delivering it via a blog posting, today, millions have access to that content from their computers, and I’m playing a role as helping to deliver some of that content to the masses. To me, that’s very rewarding. I took the initiative to add these video links to my blog, as well as several of the online communities I’m involved in, including here at TuDiabetes.org, plus DiabetesTalkFest.com and Living Out Loud With Diabetes. As you may recall, this summer, I did something similar with a posting regarding the JDRF YouTube Channel I’d discovered, along with some other sites I felt were worth sharing.
So, without further delay, let me share some recorded content with my readers. As I’ve noted, this contains some content from the 2009 World Stem Cell Summit held in Baltimore, MD from September 21-23. There’s a few links related to the 2009 conference worth sharing with you. First, a report. To access these (and the presentations, you’ll need to provide a name, e-mail address and answer 2 questions). Most notable from this event was the fact that the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s (JDRF) CEO Alan Lewis gave one of the keynote speeches, and several other senior executives from JDRF, including Dr. Robert Goldstein and the Diabetes Research Institute’s (DRI) Dr. Camillo Ricordi who appear in one of the video segments on a “panel” discussion related to stem cell research and specifically how that pertains to diabetes in one video segment.
In addition, there is also some transcript from JDRF’s Larry Soler on why the JDRF supports stem cell research, and of course, Alan Lewis elaborates somewhat on this theme in his speech, addressing how the JDRF’s role regarding stem cell research has also evolved in recent years.
First, here is the transcript for Larry Soler’s speech (alas, a video of this does not seem to be available), which can be read and/or downloaded on the host scribd.com, which is a social publishing site for documents, spreadsheets and presentations among other things) below:
Next, I will present the Alan Lewis keynote presentation, which provides a good background (see here):
Another diabetes researcher, Diabetes Research Institute’s Juan Dominguez-Bendala gave a speech which was not video recorded, but the transcript from that speech is entitled “Stem Cells and Diabetes: New Trends and Clinical Prospects” and can be read (or downloaded) here:
Finally, below is the interesting panel discussion, which includes the DRI’s Dr. Camillo Ricordi, as well as JDRF’s Dr. Robert Goldstein and a patient advocate from the Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission named Margaret Conn Himelfarb:
What does all this mean?
Well, first and foremost, all seem to acknowledge that the issue on stem cell research has evolved (see also here) from a situation where voters and politicians alike once needed education on what was at stake to one where public opinion on the subject, by and large, supports with relatively few restrictions on this type of research. That means these charitable organizations can focus on other areas. Today, researchers are more focused on the problem of how to address recurring autoimmunity, and how best to facilitate addressing that not-so-small problem, as well as encouraging industry to pick up some part of the work by de-risking it as much as possible.
Still, the fact that this content is readily available to patients is a sign of progress not just on where the research has gone, but also increasing transparency on progress, milestones, etc. The latter being one milestone that those of us considered diabetes “veterans” can look upon and say we had a role in helping to make possible!