Professor Christiane Ferran, Lewis Thomas Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School (HMS), and a 1983 graduate of the Faculty of Medicine (FM) at Saint Joseph University of Beirut (USJ), received the first Blavatnik Therapeutics Challenge Awards (BTCA) at HMS.
Professor Ferran’s project, with its outstanding promise to provide new therapies, will receive $1 million over two years to advance type 1 diabetes research efforts. Fellows will also receive active support and guidance from the HMS Translator, a recently launched program to advance drug discovery efforts at HMS.
Type 1 diabetes results from the destruction of pancreatic beta cells, which can no longer produce insulin, a crucial hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Insulin deficiency leads to life-threatening complications, which can only be resolved through improved and sustained blood glucose control.
The approach of Professor Ferran and her colleagues is to develop a gene therapy approach that could be one of the first alternatives to insulin therapy. By targeting a mechanism of action independent of insulin, they aim to ensure long-term glycemic control without increasing the risk of dangerous hypoglycemia for patients with type 1 diabetes.
Administered by Harvard Medical School and funded by the Blavatnik Family Foundation, the BTCA program aims to accelerate therapeutic research at HMS and its affiliated hospitals, help researchers navigate the intricacies of intellectual property development and licensing, and stimulate the creation of new companies.