Leisa Zigman

Leisa Zigman, 2013 recipient of JDRF's Living and Giving Award 

JDRF and its supporters will celebrate their commitment to a cure for Type 1 diabetes (T1D) with the annual Dream Gala, It's Black and White—A Cure is in Sight, on May 4 at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch.

The elegant event will feature an elaborate dinner, surprise entertainment, and live and silent auction items, such as a stay at an Italian villa, high-end shopping sprees and private jet flights.

Last year’s gala drew 450 guests and $1.1 million for JDRF research and education, and executive director Marie Davis expects an even larger crowd of 600 and $1.2 million this May. “JDRF is an active driver in pursuit of a cure for T1D and its complications,” she notes. “We develop new and better treatments to improve the lives of people who have T1D, and keep them as healthy as possible until we can cure the disease.” And JDRF helps not only juveniles with the disease, but also adults. “At the time JDRF was founded in 1970, we served families of children who had T1D. Now, research tells us that 50 percent of all new cases of T1D are diagnosed in people 18 and older.”

Like JDRF, Dr. Alan Permutt was committed to a cure for T1D. The late Washington University physician and researcher spent his career tirelessly working for answers to the disease, which plagues 3 million Americans. “He had T1D, so he had a real passion for researching the disease,” Davis notes.

With funding from JDRF—the largest global non-governmental supporter of T1D research--Permutt became a leading diabetes researcher, directing the Diabetes Research and Training Center at Washington University School of Medicine, with a focus on investigating the genetic and physiological bases of the disease, and even discovered a rare form of the illness, Wolfram syndrome.

JDRF will recognize Permutt’s lifelong dedication to diabetes research during the gala. Proceeds from the event also will support the newly created Alan Permutt Career Development Award, which will encourage young doctors to seek specialties related to diabetes research.

The gala also will honor the next generation of JDRF supporters, including KSDK reporter and cancer survivor Leisa Zigman. “I am incredibly humbled and honored to receive the JDRF Living and Giving Award," Zigman says. "When you are a part of something much bigger than yourself, where service to the community can hopefully help lead to cures for horrific diseases like cancer and diabetes, then it is a life worth living." Christina Shasserre, head of discovery and development solutions at EMD Millipore, will be recognized with the Diabetes Champion Award. "EMD Millipore's longstanding history of  supporting scientific research is well aligned with JDRF's mission to find a cure for T1D," Shasserre notes. And Dr. John Pieper, president of St. Louis College of Pharmacy, also will be honored with a Diabetes Champion Award for serving as corporate chairman during the 2012 annual JDRF Walk. “Pharmacists are important partners with patients and their families to help control T1D,” Pieper says. “I know the college’s involvement with JDRF has made an impact on the lives of those with the disease, and it has drawn our students closer to their future patients.”

A family also will share their journey with diabetes during the Fund a Cure portion of the gala. “The excitement of our gala is the outpouring of people giving to research and sharing their stories,” Davis says. “It won’t leave a dry eye in the house.”


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