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Commentary: Coming together to fight diabetes*

July 23, 2013|By Greer Wylder | By Greer Wylder

This story has been corrected. Please see below.

Can an intense, five-day scientific conference, the American Diabetes Assn. conference in Chicago, bring hope to a worried mom of a Type 1 diabetic?

Thanks to those who have committed their lives to finding a cure, the short answer is, yes. I just returned from the 73rd Scientific Sessions diabetes conference, which brings the world's foremost academic and private researchers to share their works with upward of 17,000 attendees.

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Under one giant roof was the epicenter of the who's who in the diabetes world, the rock stars of science who are devoting their lives to prevent diabetes, find a cure, provide better treatments and care for millions of people who are living with complications. They showcased cutting-edge science to colleagues and fellow health care professionals who are in this fight together.

I don't have a science background, save for a Biology 101 class I took in college 20 some years ago, so this heavy-duty, science-laden conference would be an unlikely event for me to attend. However, I'm equally in this fight to end diabetes for my son, Tristan, 21, who was diagnosed seven years ago with the life-threatening autoimmune disease Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 can strike anyone at any time and leaves its victims insulin-dependent for life.

Types 1 and 2 diabetes are epidemics, and unless you have a loved one or family member with either, chances are you don't know the difference between the two corrosive illnesses that are extremely costly. Type 2 is a metabolic disorder, patients are insulin resistant, and the cause is usually associated with lifestyle. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease, meaning cells in the pancreas are attacked and stop producing insulin.

Diabetes-related costs in the U.S. exceed $218 billion. To do my part in raising awareness and funds for a cure, I joined the board of JDRF, an organization that is fighting for Type 1 research, five years ago, and I also became the executive producer of a documentary, "The Human Trial," which is following three research teams on their quest to cure Type 1 diabetes, hopefully culminating in a history-making clinical trial.

The documentary will visually capture why a cure is urgently needed. The film caught the attention of world-renowned graphic design artist, Shepard Fairey (a Type 1 diabetic), who generously donated his talents to create the film poster. Proceeds from signed, limited edition posters will help support the making of the film.

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