Why we’re putting your views at the heart of Type 2 diabetes research – by Faye Riley

This week we announced the Top 10 priorities for Type 2 diabetes research. To reach this point we asked people with Type 2, their carers and healthcare professionals: what matters most to you when it comes to research?

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to check out the list. What do you reckon? There are probably some you agree with and some you’re less sure of. But after a lot of hard work, with an incredible response from thousands of people with different viewpoints, we can be sure the Top 10 gives a voice to those on the front line of Type 2 diabetes.

Giving people with diabetes a louder voice

When it comes to deciding what to research, and what to spend research funding on, people with diabetes (and those who treat them) can often be left out of the equation. Instead, scientists and organisations that fund research usually make the decisions.

As part of our research strategy, we’re committed to changing this. We want to give people with diabetes a louder voice in research. After all, you’re the reason we fund research and scientists do it.

We know that people living with diabetes are experts in their own right. You’re the ones with first-hand experience of the condition, who can tell us what new knowledge and developments could really make a difference to your lives.

That’s why we’ve made sure to include people with diabetes in our research funding process. We have a Grants Advisory Panel, where people with diabetes tell us what they think of the hundreds of research applications we receive every year. We also have people with diabetes sitting on our Clinical Studies Groups, which are helping to create a road map for future diabetes research.

And, of course, another crucial element is to ask you directly: what’s important to you? Which is exactly what we did to find your priorities for Type 2 diabetes.

This process was also carried out for Type 1 diabetes in 2011, but until recently people with Type 2 hadn’t had a chance to have their say.

Why is knowing your priorities so valuable?

People with Type 2 diabetes and healthcare professionals working to agree on the Top 10

Throughout our 80 year history, we’ve funded pioneering research that has really made a difference to people with diabetes. This includes developing the first ever hand-held blood glucose meter, helping to reduce sight loss through a retinal screening programme and paving the way for new technologies, like the artificial pancreas.

So that we can continue to radically improve the lives of people with diabetes, we need to make sure research is as relevant as possible to those living with the condition. Knowing your priorities will help us do just that.

We’ll use your priorities when we’re making decisions around what research to fund. And we’ll work hard to make sure they’re widely seen, and considered, by researchers and other organisations that fund diabetes research.

By putting you at the heart of research we hope diabetes research will thrive.

Having your say

It’s been inspiring hearing from people who helped us find the Top 10 priorities.

John has Type 2 diabetes

John Turner, who lives with Type 2 diabetes, told us: “I wanted to make sure the opinions of people with Type 2 diabetes count, and to help scientists focus on the issues most important to us.

Rachel is a healthcare professional and at high risk of Type 2 diabetes herself

I left the process feeling empowered, confident in the future of research and full of hope. And I think this process will enthuse the thousands who got involved.”

Rachel Armstrong, is at high risk of Type 2 diabetes and cares for people with Type 2 diabetes in her job as a Community Matron. She explained: I thought it was important to come together with a diverse range of people, with different insights, to create a shared vision for the future of research. I hope these important priorities will go on to be seized by the research community to help millions of people with, and at risk, of Type 2.

Continue to help us shape research

Now we have this important list, we need as many people to know about it as possible. You can help us get the ball rolling. Tell your mates, doctors, fill those awkward silences at the hairdressers and get tweeting about the #Type2Top10.

If you’re feeling inspired to get involved in research, have a look if there are any studies taking place near you. We’ll also be recruiting for new members of our Grants Advisory Panel next year, to help us make our funding decisions.

I can’t end without saying a massive thank you to the Type 2 diabetes community for their honesty, openness and passion during our quest for the Top 10. Thanks to you we have a real chance to drive forward research that can make a genuine difference in our fight against diabetes.

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