The highly respected Diabetes UK RD Lawrence Fellowship has been presented to a researcher from the University of Exeter.
The competitive career development fellowship has been awarded to Dr Pia Leete for her research into morphological changes of the pancreas in type 1 diabetes.
Established in 1976, the fellowship helps expand the career development of remarkable postdoctoral researchers, allowing them to gain independence in diabetes research.
As part of the fellowship, Dr Leete will receive £525,000 in funding over the next five years to further develop her research into diabetes care.
She said: “I am both overwhelmingly humbled, and completely thrilled to receive the RD Lawrence Fellowship from Diabetes UK.
“I will be using this incredible opportunity to build a small multidisciplinary team dedicated to understanding how the pancreatic pathology varies between people living with type 1 diabetes, with the specific aim of ultimately informing routes to more personalised care.”
Dr Leete’s research has shown that there at least two distinct forms of type 1 diabetes, namely type 1 diabetes Endotype 1 and 2, which each affect the pancreas differently.
“It is increasingly clear that type 1 diabetes doesn’t progress along the same trajectory in all people,” noted Dr Leete.
She added: “We currently know that the age a person is diagnosed can profoundly impact the severity of the disease and the later development of complications, but understanding what drives these differences, and how to treat them, will have a profound impact on personalised patient care.
“Therefore, over the next five years, my team and I will be dedicated to further revolutionising our understanding of the pancreatic pathology in type 1 diabetes.”
She concluded: “I am deeply grateful for the faith and support of all my colleagues here at the University of Exeter and I’m excited to continue on this journey in collaboration with Diabetes UK as we strive to improve outcomes for all people living with type 1 diabetes.”
Dr Elizabeth Robertson, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: “Diabetes UK is committed to investing in exceptional scientists and supporting them on their journey to be world leaders of diabetes research, so we are delighted to award Dr Leete Diabetes UK’s RD Lawrence Fellowship.
“We are proud to support Dr Leete’s pioneering research, which will give us the most detailed picture to date of what happens in the pancreas as type 1 diabetes develops, and how this can differ from person to person.”
She added: “These discoveries could help scientists to develop new, tailored treatments that take us closer to stopping or preventing type 1 diabetes.”