Media Releases

New Network Launched to Address Diabetes Complications

March 31, 2016

Partnership unites nine institutions in fight against diabetes

Toron­to, ON — A new nation­al research net­work was launched today to trans­form the health out­comes of indi­vid­u­als with dia­betes and its relat­ed com­pli­ca­tions. It will be led by two of Canada’s top researchers in the field and includes researchers con­duct­ing lead­ing-edge health and bio­med­ical research at nine insti­tu­tions across the coun­try.

“Dia­betes is a huge bur­den to our health sys­tem right now. One in four Cana­di­ans have dia­betes or pre-dia­betes and it’s cost­ing us $16-bil­lion per year to treat. By 2020, we antic­i­pate that more than 3 mil­lion Cana­di­ans will have dia­betes. We have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to har­ness the tremen­dous research being done in Cana­da to find bet­ter solu­tions,” said Pro­fes­sor Gary Lewis, Direc­tor of the Bant­i­ng and Best Dia­betes Cen­tre at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to and a Senior Sci­en­tist with the Uni­ver­si­ty Health Net­work.

Lewis will lead the new Strat­e­gy for Patient-Ori­ent­ed Research (SPOR) Net­work in Dia­betes and Relat­ed Com­pli­ca­tions – with Pro­fes­sor Jean-Pierre Després, Sci­en­tif­ic Direc­tor of the Car­di­ol­o­gy Divi­sion of the Que­bec Heart and Lung insti­tute, Direc­tor of Sci­ence and Inno­va­tion at Alliance san­té Québec and a Pro­fes­sor of Kine­si­ol­o­gy at Uni­ver­sité Laval.

Today, Fed­er­al Health Min­is­ter Jane Philpott announced fund­ing from the Cana­di­an Insti­tutes for Health Research (CIHR) for five SPOR Net­works in Chron­ic Dis­ease. “These net­works will pro­duce the inno­va­tions that improve health of Cana­di­ans and posi­tion Cana­da as a glob­al leader in research on these chron­ic dis­eases,” said CIHR Pres­i­dent Dr. Alain Beaudet.

Each SPOR Net­work will receive $12.45-million from CIHR to be matched by part­ners. The SPOR Net­work in Dia­betes and Relat­ed Com­pli­ca­tions has part­nered with the Cana­di­an Dia­betes Asso­ci­a­tion, JDRF, the Michael Smith Foun­da­tion for Health Research, Research Man­i­to­ba, Alliance san­té Que­bec, New Brunswick Health Research Foun­da­tion, as well as pri­vate sec­tor con­trib­u­tors includ­ing Mer­ck Cana­da Inc., Astra-Zeneca Inc., Capri­on Pro­teome Inc., and Win­San­Tor Inc., for a total five-year invest­ment of an addi­tion­al $19-mil­lion for the SPOR Net­work in Dia­betes and Relat­ed Com­pli­ca­tions.

“JDRF is proud to be a SPOR part­ner, as we great­ly val­ue Cana­di­an researchers work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly to accel­er­ate dia­betes research. This gives patients hope for a bet­ter world, a world with­out type 1 dia­betes (T1D) and this research will move us there faster,” said Dave Prowten, Pres­i­dent and CEO of JDRF Cana­da.

“Our net­work will facil­i­tate mean­ing­ful con­nec­tions between pri­ma­ry health­care providers, their patients and rel­e­vant spe­cial­ists to achieve improved care and sig­nif­i­cant cost sav­ings with­in our health sys­tem,” said Després.

“I have been liv­ing with T1D for 49 years, and have expe­ri­enced how dev­as­tat­ing dia­bet­ic relat­ed com­pli­ca­tions can be; I lost my eye­sight 25 years ago. Last week my 14-year-old nephew was diag­nosed with T1D. This dis­ease con­tin­ues its dev­as­tat­ing path, which is what com­pels me to fight back and be a mem­ber of this SPOR Net­work,” said patient advo­cate Deb­bie Siss­more. “I am delight­ed to rep­re­sent and advo­cate for the Cana­di­ans that need help in the pre­ven­tion and treat­ment of dia­betes relat­ed com­pli­ca­tions.”

A focus for the net­work will be the impact dia­betes has on vul­ner­a­ble groups, includ­ing Indige­nous peo­ples, immi­grants, women and low­er socio-eco­nom­ic groups. “We know that dia­betes has a dis­pro­por­tion­ate impact on these groups, but there is still much more research to be done on why and how to deliv­er appro­pri­ate and cul­tur­al­ly sen­si­tive treat­ments,” said Lewis.

The net­work will be based in Toron­to at the Uni­ver­si­ty Health Net­work and Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to. The oth­er part­ner orga­ni­za­tions are Uni­ver­sité de Sher­brooke, Uni­ver­sité Laval, Uni­ver­sité de Mon­tréal, Uni­ver­si­ty of Alber­ta, Uni­ver­si­ty of British Colum­bia, Uni­ver­si­ty of Man­i­to­ba, and the Uni­ver­si­ty of New Brunswick.

You can learn more about the SPOR Net­work in Dia­betes by vis­it­ing their web­site:


For more infor­ma­tion:

Liam Mitchell
Asso­ciate Direc­tor, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
Temer­ty Temer­ty Fac­ul­ty of Med­i­cine, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Tel: 416–978-4672