Background and overview 

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune condition caused by the immune system attacking and destroying the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. This results in a life-long dependence on carefully titrated exogenous insulin. Breakthrough T1D estimates that approximately 1.4 million people in the US and around 20 million globally are affected by this condition. 

As the leading global type 1 diabetes research and advocacy organization, Breakthrough T1D helps make everyday life with type 1 diabetes better while driving toward cures. We have come a long way toward our goal of cures with the availability of automated glucose measurement and management systems, improved insulins, and a promising pipeline of therapeutic candidates that have the potential to modify the course of the disease and reduce insulin dependence. However, there is still a long way to go. 


Our research strategy has two pillars: curing T1D and improving the lives of individuals with T1D. Breakthrough T1D research prioritizes projects with the highest likelihood of accelerating the delivery of therapies to cure (and prevent) T1D while maintaining strategic gap-filling funding in research that improves the lives of people with T1D.

We will focus on the following over the next five years: 

Develop and execute a global universal T1D early detection strategy that reduces DKA at diagnosis, identifies high-risk individuals for early detection, accelerates the evaluation of disease-modifying therapies, recognizes individuals who will be eligible for approved preventive treatments, and develop cost-benefit analyses of screening for payer assessment.

Accelerate the development of disease-modifying therapies that delay, stop, or reverse the development and progression of T1D, enable clinical testing of these therapies, and facilitate the development of business models to support T1D drug development and commercialization. 

Accelerate the development of first-generation beta cell replacement products, demonstrating at least 6 months of reduction in insulin requirements, potentially with the use of local immunosuppression. 

Improve overall outcomes in people with T1D (and potentially a broader population of individuals with insulin-requiring diabetes), reduce disease burden and complications, and reduce barriers to the adoption of newly approved life-changing breakthroughs. 

Foster a community of T1D researchers and clinicians through training awards and networking activities, and bridge the gap between endocrinologists, transplant surgeons, psychologists, and immunologists. 


The guiding principles that support our mission: 
  • Enable progression of therapies through the R&D pipeline with a line of sight to product development and reduce the barriers in product development and commercialization throughout the process. 
  • Support innovation to fill knowledge gaps and create potential for novel treatment paradigms and product development. 
  • Make ‘big bets’ to aggressively drive new research opportunities and promising initiatives. 
  • Create and sustain partnerships with global funders and stakeholders, such as the National Institutes of Health, Helmsley Charitable Trust, other foundations, and government funders that leverage resources and complement strengths to fill gaps and remove barriers. 
  • Cultivate multi-disciplinary teams (consortia, public-private projects, coalitions, others) to address specific scientific challenges. 
  • Influence via thought leadership to guide activities of T1D stakeholders (academic, private sector, government) to achieve our goals. 


Our success is defined by the availability of affordable therapies that improve the lives of people with T1D and have the potential to help others too, including those with T2D and other autoimmune disorders. We achieve this by supporting a diversified portfolio of academic and industry research that can successfully transition from early discovery research to clinical trials and product development. We dedicate funding and other resources to both early-stage and clinic-ready projects to accelerate advancements toward our mission in both the long and short term.

Complete Breakthrough T1D strategy to cure T1D

Complete Breakthrough T1D strategy in improving lives

See the scientific and clinical challenges to cure T1D and its complications and apply for funding.

See where Breakthrough T1D’s nearly 500 active grants are driving progress.

Learn about our two core research objectives: curing T1D and improving lives.