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National Diabetes Week 2023: Translating research into every-day life

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Published on 12 June 2023

Matthew Campbell
Matthew Campbell

The University of Sunderland is now an established global player in type 1 diabetes (T1D) research leading on several international studies designed to improve the quality of life for those living with the disease.

Our research spans basic discovery in the laboratory to improved patient care in clinics and the community. Through this work we are finding out why some people with diabetes go on to develop complications and have poorer outcomes, and, which interventions work best for certain people. This research has informed international healthcare policy and changed clinical practice both in the UK and abroad.

Now the University is unveiling a new collaboration with the world’s leading T1D charity and funder of world-class medical research - JDRF - to highlight how science at Sunderland is benefiting the T1D community.

The University has partnered with JDRF to bring this year’s Type 1 Diabetes Sport Discovery Event to Sunderland (July 1, City Campus). This event brings together world-leading researchers, inspirational athletes, and the wider T1D community to hear how to translate the latest research into everyday life. This event is aimed at families affected by T1D, as well as adults living with, or support those with the condition, providing an opportunity to learn more about how the body is impacted during and after exercise.

Athletes will be available to talk about living with diabetes and how they manage their condition when exercising. Children can also take part in a range of different activities led by coaches and supervised by healthcare professionals who work with young people with TD1.

Leading the event, is the University’s Dr Mattthew Campbell, a Principal Investigator in Human Metabolism. Matthew has published extensively in the area of diabetes and is funded by Diabetes UK on research which recently found global acclaim after establishing that simply taking short breaks from sitting can help people with T1D better manage their blood sugar levels.

He says: “The Diabetes Sport Discovery Event is the only one of its kind in the UK and we are delighted to have teamed up with JDRF to be able to deliver it to the people of Sunderland and the surrounding areas. It’s a great chance to meet and learn from experts – scientists, clinicians, and those with extensive lived experience – how to better manage T1D around exercise and physical activity.”

Matthew added: “New data reveals a stark widening inequality in diabetes outcomes and access to diabetes technology in the north-east of England. Although this problem is a complex multi-stakeholder challenge, we are committed to fulfilling our civic duty in doing what we can now to ensure that the University’s community is equipped with information from the latest developments in diabetes research and technology.”

Professor Michael Young, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, responsible for the University’s academic portfolio, including the delivery and quality of programmes, teaching and learning and research, says: “Dr Campbell’s research is a powerful example of how the University’s commitment to applied and ambitious research can make a real difference to peoples’ lives and benefit communities in the north-east.

“We’re delighted to be working with JDRF to bring this event to our city.”

As part of the day-long event, attendees will have the opportunity to visit the Technology Exhibition and discover how the latest advancements in diabetes technology and wearable devices can help improve the management of T1D.

All adults and children living with, or those with a connection, to T1D are welcome from 9.30am at the campus at Gateway Building, Chester Road.

Sarah Davis, JDRF Community Events Officer, said: “We are delighted to be bringing this event to Sunderland in partnership with the University. JDRF is the leading global charity funding type one diabetes research.


“This is an ideal opportunity for the people of and around Sunderland to hear more about our work, how to deal with type 1 diabetes when doing physical activity, and to meet and build connections with other people within the T1D community.

“We are also very excited to be bringing more of a focus to how the body is impacted during and after exercise when living with the condition.”

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Diabetes is characterised by increased blood sugar (glucose) levels, which contribute to complications including kidney, foot, eye, heart and stroke disease. There are two main types: in T1D the body stops producing insulin while in type 2 diabetes (T2D), insulin is still produced but is less effective due to resistance of the body to its action, termed insulin resistance (IR). Overweight T1D individuals can also develop IR, displaying both insulin deficiency and resistance, a group described as having ‘double diabetes’ (DD). People with DD are more prone to diabetes complications, for reasons that are still being investigated.

A major component of diabetes care is physical activity and diet. However, self-managing T1D around activity and diet is extremely challenging.

The University of Sunderland has a portfolio of internationally-renowned research in diabetes, exercise and diet which is helping people with T1D exercise safely, improve diabetes management, and identify new and novel therapies.


National Diabetes Week (June 14-20)

Diabetes Week is an annual UK-wide initiative devoted to raising awareness of diabetes and raising money to help fund research into the condition.

Set up by British charity group Diabetes UK, this special week is now the annual focal point for all of the charity’s diabetes awareness, campaigning and fundraising activities.