Theresa May to become diabetes charity ambassador

Former prime minister Theresa May is to become an ambassador for a diabetes charity to champion its global research.

Mrs May was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was home secretary in 2013 but has always refused to let it hold her back.

Now, having returned to the back benches after stepping down as PM, she will work with diabetes research charity JDRF to promote its Connect Immune Research initiative.

Announcing her decision to take up the role, she said: “Type 1 diabetes is a serious condition that requires a carefully managed routine, whether you are a 12-year-old school child or a prime minister standing at the despatch box.

“But since my own diagnosis, I have seen the progress that JDRF’s international research programme has made.”

The Connect Immune Research initiative brings together researchers from across autoimmune conditions to uncover the common threads in their work – meaning reduced costs, and more new treatments, faster.

Scientists know there are similarities in the genetic risk factors for many autoimmune conditions, but their research typically operates in disease-specific silos.

Connect Immune Research has the potential to transform the lives of four million people in the UK who live with an autoimmune condition, JDRF says.

Mrs May said: “Connect Immune Research is an example of the pioneering innovation that makes our UK scientific research community so globally renowned.

“It represents a different way of working across research disciplines, collaborating over shared goals.

“Innovative approaches like this will help the medical research sector adapt to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.”

Karen Addington, UK chief executive of JDRF, said: “We are delighted to welcome Theresa May as a JDRF ambassador.

“Theresa has committed to championing our cause, bringing to life the seriousness of the condition, and raising the profile of type 1 diabetes and JDRF’s research.”

Mrs May’s support comes at a challenging time for JDRF, as the coronavirus crisis hits the charity’s ability to fundraise via marathons and other public events.

The charity is predicting an income shortfall of £1 million by the end of June as a direct result of Covid-19 and has therefore launched an urgent appeal for donations, to help it protect its research to find new treatments and cures for type 1 diabetes.

– To donate to JDRF’s appeal, please visit: www.jdrf.org.uk/donate

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