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SEATTLE - (April 6, 2011) — Srinath Sanda, MD, clinical investigator at Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI) was awarded the first JDRF Mark Pescovitz Early Career Patient-Oriented Diabetes Research award, representing a five-year grant from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Sanda will be using the more than $700,000 grant to study immune modulation in Type 1 diabetes. Named for the late Dr. Mark Pescovitz, the award signifies the importance of supporting young clinician scientists dedicated to finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

"I am proud and honored to be selected as the first recipient of the research award named in Dr. Pescovitz's memory," says Sanda. His research will investigate whether modulating inflammatory proteins such as interleukin 1β and specific immune cells called monocytes affects the body's ability to secrete insulin.

"One of our goals for children and adults newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes is to find a way to save their insulin producing cells," says Sanda. "When a person is first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, they usually have some functioning insulin producing cells. We've found patients who keep these remaining cells longer have a lower rate of complications and better management of their diabetes."

Sanda's research focuses on the diabetes autoimmune process. In addition to participating in the diabetes clinical trials at BRI, Sanda collaborates with bench scientists on translational immunology related to Type 1 diabetes through the JDRF Center for Translational Research at BRI.

"Dr. Sanda is committed to translating novel scientific insights into therapies to prevent and cure Type 1 diabetes," said Richard Insel, MD, chief scientific officer for JDRF. "His commitment to clinical investigation models the career of the late Dr. Pescovitz, whose pioneering research helped to create a new understanding of the role of the immune system in Type 1 diabetes."

The JDRF Mark Pescovitz Early Career Patient-Oriented Diabetes Research Award provides support to an investigator who plans to pursue a career in diabetes-related clinical investigation. This award is given to talented young scientists focused on clinical diabetes research to help them become independent clinical diabetes investigators. 

Pescovitz, a JDRF-funded investigator, professor, visionary organ transplant surgeon and research scientist at the Indiana University School of Medicine, died from a tragic car accident on Dec. 12, 2010. His invaluable scientific contributions included advancing the translation of immunology into clinically meaningful improvements in preventing organ rejection after transplantation.

About Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason
Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI), founded in 1956, is an international leader in immune system and autoimmune disease research, translating discoveries to real-life applications. Autoimmune disease happens when the immune system, designed to protect the body, attacks it instead. BRI is one of the few research institutes in the world dedicated to discovering causes and cures to eliminate autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and many others. Visit BenaroyaResearch.org or Facebook/BenaroyaResearch for more information about BRI, clinical studies and the more than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases.

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