JDRF announces funding for clinician-researchers dedicated to type 1 diabetes 

August 15, 2022

The 2022 recipients of JDRF’s Rebecca Davies Clinician Research Fellowship have today been announced, awarded to Dr Jennifer Snaith from St Vincent’s Hospital and Dr Keely Bebbington from the University of Western Australia.   

The funding provided by the Fellowship is designed to create dedicated research time for active clinicians who are pursuing a career in type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, whose proposals have a strong potential to make significant progress toward finding a cure and improving the lives of people with T1D.  

This year’s recipients have clinical practice areas spanning physical and mental health and are passionate about making improvements for people with T1D, inspired by their patients who are living with condition.  

Dr. Jennifer Snaith, consultant Endocrinologist at St Vincent’s Hospital

The first recipient, Dr Jennifer Snaith, is a consultant Endocrinologist at St Vincent’s Hospital and PhD scholar at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. She is a promising clinician-researcher with several accolades for excellence in research and medical training and has a particular interest in adjunctive therapies and solutions to better manage T1D.  

During her fellowship, Dr Snaith aims to determine if an adjunctive therapy to insulin that has been effective for improving metabolic control and cardiac health in other disease areas, including type 2 diabetes, will have similar results in adults with T1D.  

Dr Snaith says that “People living with type 1 diabetes experience many day-to-day challenges, but the major issue that shortens lives is cardiovascular disease. In my work caring for people with diabetes, I’ve witnessed the discovery and roll out of ground-breaking medications for people with type 2 diabetes that can help improve blood sugars but also reduce heart disease risk. There is huge potential to repurpose these readily available medications for people living with type 1 diabetes.  

“The JDRF Rebecca Davies Fellowship will support an essential research project that will examine how a simple once-a-week injection, given in addition to insulin, can address these problems in type 1 diabetes. The overall mission of my career and my team is to improve the lives of people living with type 1 diabetes by addressing cardiovascular health and this fellowship will help us greatly in achieving this goal.” 

Dr. Keely Bebbington, Clinical Psychologist from University of Western Australia

The second recipient, Dr Keely Bebbington, is a Clinical Psychologist with a PhD from the University of Western Australia, who leads mental health and wellbeing research with the Rio Tinto Children’s Diabetes Centre (a JDRF Global Centre of Excellence) at Telethon Kids Institute.  

Dr Bebbington wants to better understand and improve mental health and psychosocial functioning in young people with T1D and their families, with a particular interest in helping them adjust to living with T1D. This funding will enable her to investigate if supporting caregivers to strengthen their relationships with their children can help to prevent the onset of anxiety in children with the condition.  

This is a largely unmet need for the T1D community, with the burden of the chronic condition and ongoing management contributing to poorer mental health outcomes, including heightened anxiety levels in a disproportionate number of people with T1D and their parents.   

Dr Bebbington says that “anxiety is a significant problem for young people living with type 1 diabetes and is associated with a range of negative mental and physical health outcomes later in life. I’m thrilled that JDRF are supporting this program of work that aims to prevent the onset of anxiety in children with the condition.  

“I plan to work with caregivers of children living with T1D to develop a program that aims to support them to raise healthy, confident children and reduce the burden of living with this condition.”  

The funding for the Rebecca Davies Clinical Research Fellowship is made possible through The JDRF Australian Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network (T1DCRN), which provides a national framework to support the most promising T1D research and clinical trials in Australia.  

The T1DCRN was initiated with the goal of positively impacting the lives of people with T1D through the support and translation of research and it has a strong track record of accelerating strong clinical outcomes aligned with JDRF’s research goals. 

Dr Snaith and Dr Bebbington’s Fellowships will commence this month (August 2022) and continue over the next three years. Progress and updates on their research findings will be provided as their research advances. 

For more on JDRF’s research goals, visit the research section on our website.  

For more information on Dr Jennifer Snaith, click HERE

For more information on Dr Keely Bebbington, click HERE.  

About the Rebecca Davies Clinician Research Fellowship (previously Mentored Clinician Researcher Fellowship)

This Fellowship is named in recognition of the invaluable contribution of Rebecca Davies, AO FAICD, for tirelessly representing the voice of the T1D community. She is a highly successful corporate lawyer, experienced director, chair, committee member and volunteer leader with JDRF. She has played an instrumental role in transforming JDRF’s strategy and governance to accelerate progress for the T1D community, has served on Research Committees and Boards for JDRF in Australia and the USA. She is continuously championing medical research through her appointments on several committees and Boards of medical research institutes. 

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Emma Shipley, Communications & Sponsorship Manager / 0434 623 510