Well over 3,000 kids, families and adults with type 1
diabetes gathered in Orlando
earlier this month for the 12th annual Children
with Diabetes (CWD) Friends
for Life (FFL) Conference.
JDRF has been participating in this event for the last nine years, and
had a strong presence once again this year.
The event, hosted annually by the CWD group, offers a unique
chance for members of the type 1 diabetes community to get together,
participate in a variety of educational sessions and family activities, and
make and strengthen life-long friendships.
Opportunities for the kids included face painting, playing sports and games
at the various exhibitor booths and having fun with arts and crafts. The conference this year brought together many
first-timers as well as people who have been attending for years. FFL participants also had the chance to meet celebrity
guests like Kendall
Hewitt and Crystal Bowersox!
For this year’s meeting, JDRF provided sponsorship for the
science and research-related speaking sessions.
Dr. Barbara Araneo,
JDRF Scientific Program Director of Complications Research, presented as part
of a session on eye care for people with type 1 diabetes. Dr.
Araneo discussed both new and existing treatments for diabetic retinopathy,
as well as research currently being conducted in the area. Dr. Araneo talked about how adolescence is a
risk factor for microvascular complications such as retinopathy, and that JDRF
is funding a study in the UK,
Australia, and Canada to learn
more about this. In speaking about the
treatment side, Dr. Araneo discussed VEGF blockers, which are injected into the eye, as an earlier intervention
to prevent diabetic retinopathy. She mentioned
study in which approximately half of the people received
this treatment, in combination with laser therapy, had an improvement in vision
of at least two lines on an eye chart after one year. VEGF blockers are
currently approved in Europe, but not yet in the U.S.
Another notable session featured an Artificial Pancreas update
from two JDRF-funded researchers, Dr.
Stuart Weinzimer from Yale and Dr. Edward Damiano from Boston University. During the talk, Dr.
Weinzimer spoke about closed loop trials his team has been conducting using a
new algorithm and Dr. Damiano discussed his research using a bi-hormonal closed
loop system that delivers both insulin and small doses of glucagon. It is hoped
that together, insulin and glucagon, could help individuals with type 1
diabetes more easily manage their blood sugar levels.
in the FFL exhibit hall this year proved to be very exciting as well. Carol Oxenreiter, JDRF’s National Volunteer
Outreach Chair, was among the group of special guests at the JDRF booth. Ms. Oxenreiter spoke directly with families to
answer questions about outreach and support
programs and services. Dr. Araneo also
spent time at the booth answering questions about research. Ms. Oxenreiter and Dr. Araneo could both be
found near the kids table, where they assisted those who dropped by to “bling”
their glucose meters and insulin pumps with stickers and other
A more extensive overview of the speaking sessions and
exhibit hall activities is available on our live
Juvenation blog. The blog includes
entries from attendees who stopped by the JDRF booth to share their thoughts
and feelings about the conference, and photos that capture some of the
excitement from this year’s FFL.
As always, this
year’s Friends for Life provided a great opportunity to connect with people of
all ages and stages of type 1 diabetes.
JDRF looks forward to continuing its partnership with Children with
Diabetes and joining the type 1 diabetes community at this unique event.
Last week, JDRF staff and volunteers had the opportunity to join the T1D community at another successful