The history behind World Diabetes Day
Every year since 1991, the world observes World Diabetes Day (WDD) on November 14. WDD was initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) in response to the growing number of people with diabetes. In 2006, WDD became an official United Nations Day . WDD is on November 14 because it is the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, the scientist who, together with John Macleod and Charles Best, discovered insulin.
Aims of the World Diabetes Day campaign
World Diabetes Day is an awareness campaign to address the burden of diabetes to the world and provide a better understanding of the disease. Diabetes is a global health issue. Unified and coordinated action to address the issue is necessary to counteract the growing prevalence of diabetes worldwide. Each year, WDD campaigns focus on different themes. For 2021-2023, the theme is “Access to Diabetes Care”.
History of diabetes and diabetes research
Diabetes has been a long-known disease and descriptions of the disease can be found in ancient Indian and Chinese medical documents, in Egyptian papyri and in the documentation of the work of ancient Greek and Arabic physicians.
The term “diabetes” was coined around the 2nd century AD by Aretaeus of Cappadocia, a celebrated ancient Greek physician. Later in the 17th century, the term “mellitus” was added to the name of the disease by Thomas Willis, an English medical doctor. In 1921, Frederick Banting, John Macleod and Charles Best opened a new direction for the treatment of diabetes. In their research works, insulin, isolated from pancreatic islets, was administered to people affected with type 1 diabetes. This proved to be a ground-breaking discovery for diabetes treatment  and went on to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology of Medicine in 1923.
Some global statistics on diabetes
Some statistics that help us understand the dimensions of diabetes and its impact on public health:
- About 1 in 10, or some 537 million adults (between the ages of 20-79 years) have diabetes. This number is predicted to go up to 783 million by 2045 .
- At least 3 in 4 adults with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries .
- The prevalence of diabetes has been rising more rapidly in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries .
- In 2019, diabetes and kidney disease due to diabetes caused an estimated 2 million deaths .
When it comes to chemistry research funding, national research funders usually come to mind. In addition to the national funders, many learned societies and foundations around the world support chemists and chemistry research.
Why is diabetes research necessary?
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are serious diseases with long-term health complications and high healthcare costs. For example, in the U.S., care and treatment for a person with diabetes cost an average of around 17,000 USD per year . Research on diabetes prevention, treatment and possible cure, is necessary to offer a better future for the people affected by diabetes. Researchers worldwide are working towards finding new ways of diabetes treatment.
Dedicated diabetes research funders
On this World Diabetes Day, let’s take a look at some funders advancing type 1 and type 2 diabetes research. Alongside numerous organizations investing in biomedical research, there are a few foundations and associations that are dedicated to diabetes research.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), based in the U.S., is one of such dedicated global diabetes funders supporting type 1 diabetes research. The Foundation provides extensive funding mechanisms for researchers worldwide, including research grants, fellowships and conference-organizer grants for diabetes researchers. JDRF also has affiliate foundations in the UK and Australia.
The European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes (EFSD), a non-profit organization, funds all areas of diabetes research for researchers in Europe and associated countries. The foundation’s travel grants are open to diabetes researchers worldwide. The foundation funds research grants in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies, including a collaboration grant for researchers in low and middle-income countries to work with researchers in Europe on projects that improve the care of people living with diabetes.
For researchers in Denmark, the Danish Diabetes Academy (DDA) funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation (NNF) supports the training of PhD students in diabetes and also funds the recruitment of international PhD students, postdocs and visiting professors to Denmark. Novo Nordisk Fonden also supports endocrinology research, in Denmark and in other Nordic countries. The Foundation also supports the recruitment of international biomedical researchers to Denmark.
Novo Nordisk also supports researchers in the U.K. Novo Nordisk UK Research Foundation supports fellowships in clinical diabetes for U.K.-based MD students. Another major supporter of U.K.-based diabetes research is Diabetes UK, which offers an extensive funding portfolio of research grants and PhD scholarships. Diabetes UK also supports the recruitment of international talent to the U.K. Fellowship holders requiring a visa to work in the UK are eligible to apply for a Global Talent Visa under the fast-track process of endorsement.
For diabetes in developing countries, the World Diabetes Foundation is a Denmark-based charitable funder, dedicated to supporting diabetes research projects that improve diabetes care and prevention in low- and middle-income countries. Projects should be formulated and conducted locally.
Another multinational diabetes research funder is the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation (DWRF), which supports researchers in the U.S., Sweden, Norway, U.K. and Finland with its research grants.
For researchers in Australia, in addition to JDRF Australia mentioned earlier, the Australian Diabetes Society (ADS) is another prominent Australia-based diabetes research funder. The Society provides extensive funding opportunities throughout the year, including early-career prizes and travel grants.
For diabetes researchers in Canada, Diabetes Canada supports annual research grants with applications due in July.
Also related to diabetes research is the Society for Endocrinology, which supports scientists, clinicians and nurses who work with hormones. The Society funds endocrinology-related research and education through various grant schemes and supports early career researchers in endocrinology.
We help you keep track of diabetes research funding
The number of people affected by diabetes is increasing worldwide. Diabetes causes not only a toll on physical health but also has a substantial impact on mental health. Alongside this, the world has also witnessed new research approaches that paved the path for prevention and treatment of diabetes. This year on this World Diabetes Day, we highlight our list of funding opportunities for diabetes research, which is continuously updated to provide researchers around the world with the latest funding information. Bookmark this page, sign-up for our grant alerts or our monthly newsletter and stay updated with research funding information, in diabetes and beyond.
 History of World Diabetes Day, World Diabetes Day Official Website, accessed November 7.
 Marianna Karamanou, Athanase Protogerou, Gregory Tsoucalas, George Androutsos, and Effie Poulakou-Rebelakou , History of Diabetes Mellitus, World J Diabetes. 2016 Jan 10; 7(1): 1–7.
 Diabetes Atlas, IDF Diabetes Atlas Official Website, accessed November 7.
 Diabetes Statistics, WHO Official Website, accessed November 7.
 Diabetes healthcare costs, Diabetes Journals Official Website, accessed November 9.